Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic September 11, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Ottawa, ITK create interim health care help for Inuit children

Inuit-specific child-first program available everywhere in Canada

Federal ministers stand with Inuit leaders in Inuvik, N.W.T. on June 27, where they met as part of the Inuit–Crown Partnership Committee and decided to create an Inuit version of Jordan’s Principle. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
Federal ministers stand with Inuit leaders in Inuvik, N.W.T. on June 27, where they met as part of the Inuit–Crown Partnership Committee and decided to create an Inuit version of Jordan’s Principle. (HANDOUT PHOTO)

The families of Inuit children, no matter where they live in Canada, may now get federal government help in gaining access to essential but expensive health and social services, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said yesterday.

Ottawa is doing this through interim measures that will be used until Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Department of Indigenous Affairs and provincial-territorial governments finish work on an Inuit-specific child-first policy through the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee.

Within that Inuit-specific child-first policy, ITK and Indigenous Services will create an Inuit version of Jordan’s Principle.

Jordan’s Principle is a concept intended to protect First Nations children when federal, provincial and territorial governments can’t agree on who should pay for expensive health care treatments.

It’s named after Jordan River Anderson, a boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who died of a rare muscular disorder while Canada and Manitoba fought over who should pay for his home care.

Philpott and ITK President Natan Obed announced their intention to create an Inuit-specific version of the child-first policy this past July, at a meeting in Inuvik.

And, yesterday, ITK and Indigenous Affairs confirmed that the parents of Inuit children may now use interim measures under the policy.

Those interim measures are explained on this web page.

“This announcement allows Inuit families to access key health, social and education-related services now, under the existing Child First Initiative framework, while an Inuit-specific framework is being developed. For Inuit families, these services are life-changing and long overdue,” Obed said in a news release.

To gain access to those services, the parents or guardians of Inuit children may contact regional representatives designated for each province and territory.

That list of regional representatives is available here.

To be eligible, a child must be recognized by an Inuit land claim organization, and under the age of majority in their province or territory of residence.

Requests may be submitted by:

• parents or guardians caring for a dependent Inuk child.
• an Inuk child older than 16 years of age, on their own behalf.
• an authorized representative of the child, parent or guardian, if written or verbal consent is provided by the parent or guardian.

Here are some examples of health and social services that could be funded under the Inuit-specific child-first policy:


• wheelchair ramps
• addiction services
• cultural services from elders
• mental health counselling
• assessments and screenings
• medical supplies and equipment
• therapeutic services (speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy)


• land-based activities
• specialized summer camps
• respite care programs based on cultural beliefs and practices


• tutoring services
• educational assistants
• specialized school transportation
• psycho-educational assessments
• assistive technologies and electronics

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share Comment on this story...

(5) Comments:

#1. Posted by Norrthern Guy on September 12, 2018

So here in Nunavut, Inuit residents are already supposed to have access to most of these services(especially the health and education-related ones)through funding provided to the Territorial government. Does this new agreement mean that Inuit will now have priority access to these services or does Canada envision setting up parallel service delivery models? Neither option really makes much sense given the fact that Nunavut has a public government funded by the Feds to deliver most of these programs unless they envision setting up service delivery streams which I as a taxpayer would have an issue with.

#2. Posted by JR on September 12, 2018

Rah rah tax dollars rah… my eyes are about to roll out of my head. Inuit pay taxes and don’t get access to the programs they fund.  Ontario has the same problem - all the services in the world - doesn’t mean Indigenous kids have access to them. Did you even read the article? I mean - I’m questioning if you understand what your commentary is on. It’s a human rights issue about EQUAL access to services. So no need to worry… nobody’s gonna butt in your line.

Supposed to… yeh. So good luck getting an educational assessment anywhere in Nunavut, speech therapy or any developmental assessments. If your kid has a disability like autism or GDNS you don’t even have access to a diagnosis let alone any therapy.

This is life changing for children and youth who are getting no help! Thank you ITK for making this happen for our most vulnerable children.

#3. Posted by Northern Guy on September 13, 2018

#2 You seem to think that the barriers to care and services you note are unique to INUIT kids?!?! Every family I know that lives in Nunavut, Inuit and non-INUIT alike have the same difficulty accessing the specialized services you identify. So what happens to the non-Inuk kids that need these services do they get suddenly shoved farther down the wait list because all of a sudden the feds are going to pay Nunavut extra to get Inuit assessed first!?!?! Sounds like a two tiered system to me and as tax payer it stinks and its illegal under the Canada Health Act.

#4. Posted by Dorothy Gibbons on September 13, 2018

My name is Dorothy, my brother was mauled and killed by a polar bear in early July in Arviat, NU.  His 2 children (age 5 and 12) along with his daughter’s best friend age 13 and our nephew (young adult) watched the mauling and killing of my brother.

I have talked and emailed numerous people in, I thought, appropriate authority to try and get trauma mental health assistance in counselling for the children.  I have talked to nurses in Arviat, mental health workers in Arviat and Rankin, RCMP, Agnico Eagle Mine personnel (as my late brother worked at the AEM MB), both Arviat MLA’s and people I think that might be able to help the children to receive counselling.  Everyone has been eager to give names of persons that can assist the children but still no counselling provided to them.

I did not want to resort to writing on media of any kind to get help for the children but this may be the only and best way to receive assistance for the children.

I can be contacted for the kids betterment.

#5. Posted by Caroline Anawak on September 13, 2018

Dorothy, some other kids who have witnessed unacceptable things have gotten help through the Centre For Sexual Abuse and Childhood Trauma, in Ottawa.

It is a real shame you will have to fight very hard to get this level of treatment for the children, but be prepared to do so.

I studied under the Centre there and they are top notch!

I realize not every nurse, mental health worker or social worker has significant training in Childhood Trauma.

Much good luck to you!

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?