Nunatsiaq News
COMMENTARY: Nunavut May 18, 2016 - 11:30 am

Legal Ease, May 18

What are Emergency Protection Orders and Community Intervention Orders?


Suppose there is a problem in the family and abuse, say spousal violence, is occurring.

The RCMP can be brought in to lay criminal charges, but there is an alternative designed in Nunavut which is intended to reflect better traditional values.

These are civil orders granted by a justice of the peace intended to make sure that families can stay together through tough times.

In Nunavut, under the Family Abuse Intervention Act, there are two types of orders that can be granted to protect someone in an abusive family relationship: an emergency protection order and a community intervention order.

The emergency protection order is a more powerful remedy. Under the act, a justice of the peace may make an order, without notice to the person being restrained, restraining that person from communicating with or coming close to their family member.

The order is granted only where there is urgency, family abuse has occurred, and there is a reasonable likelihood of repetition of the abuse.

Emergency protection orders are made quickly where the seriousness or urgency is such that it is necessary for the applicant to receive immediate protection.

While the legislation allows the emergency protection order to last a full year, they are generally granted for a 90-day period.

A community intervention order can be made where there has been family abuse.

A community intervention order is designed to assist individuals affected by family abuse where no urgent or immediate safety issue is present.

The order restrains further abuse and can require counselling, often with an elder. In both cases a repetition of family abuse is a breach of a court order and something taken very seriously.

Both types of orders are available to men and women equally. A man who is being abused can get an order to protect himself.

Family abuse can include parents and children. Mental abuse is included in the concept of abuse. Abuse is not just physical – it can be emotional abuse too.

Getting either order requires someone who has faced family abuse to go to a justice of the peace and to explain what is going on.

Usually the easiest way to do this is to go to the local RCMP and to explain that you want to see a justice of the peace for one of these orders.

These orders are not criminal and if granted, do not create a criminal record — although breaching an order can be criminal. The only problem with going to the RCMP is that they may proceed with criminal proceedings if that seems appropriate.

Another approach is to speak to a Community Justice Outreach Worker. Such workers are in pretty well every community and you can find their contact information online here.

One point to emphasize is that if you are being abused and feel in danger and you cannot get in touch with a Community Justice Outreach Worker quickly, go to the RCMP.

Safety must be the most important consideration at all times.

James Morton is a lawyer practicing in Nunavut with offices in Iqaluit. The comments here are intended as general legal information and not as specific legal advice.

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