Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik March 13, 2018 - 9:39 am

To help Nunavik youth, build more housing, Quebec commission hears

The next thing to fix is education, witnesses say

More housing in Nunavik is by far the biggest need in the region, says Camil Picard, acting president of Quebec’s human rights and youth rights commission. He spoke on March 12 to the commission looking at the relationship between Quebec’s Indigenous groups and the province’s public services. (SCREEN SHOT)
More housing in Nunavik is by far the biggest need in the region, says Camil Picard, acting president of Quebec’s human rights and youth rights commission. He spoke on March 12 to the commission looking at the relationship between Quebec’s Indigenous groups and the province’s public services. (SCREEN SHOT)

Build more houses and Nunavik will have less need for youth protection.

That’s what youth protection commission staff told the Viens commission in Montreal yesterday.

The commission, looking at the mistreatment of Indigenous people by Quebec public services, will produce recommendations on how improve services in Nunavik and other Indigenous communities this November.

Yesterday’s session on youth protection services and Indigenous peoples at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal—the first day of two weeks mainly devoted to health and social services—pointed to several ways on how move ahead in Nunavik.

Chief among these is to build more housing in Nunavik, where there is a reported deficit of about 800 housing units.

Housing is by far is the biggest need, said Camil Picard, acting president of Quebec’s human rights and youth rights commission.

“For me, it’s obvious,” agreed former Quebec Superior Court Justice Jacques Viens, who is presiding over the commission, which was created last year in response to allegations of police brutality against First Nations women in Quebec.

The next thing to fix is education, Picard said during a day-long discussion at the hearing that focused mainly on Nunavik. He added that “through education, that is how we will succeed,” praising the new generation of educated leaders in Nunavik.

Yet another issue must be dealt with: addictions, which is linked to work and school absenteeism, and made worse by overcrowded housing.

“It’s tragic,” said Louise Sirois, an investigator with the human rights and youth rights commission, in her testimony, noting that in Nunavik, drug and alcohol abuse also makes it harder for Inuit families to foster children or even pass on traditions to their own children.

As an example of the plight many face, the commission heard about a Nunavik infant who was given up in a traditional adoption after his birth by his mother, who had substance abuse issues, to the mother’s friend.

Within a month, the baby, who had health issues, was given up to youth protection. And, by the age of two months, he ended up being in 11 foster homes before he was handed like “a parcel” to a foster family in the South for years.

That foster family received little support. They wanted to adopt him but couldn’t, because the biological mother was trying to rescind the traditional adoption. That was finally straightened out in ruling by a Quebec judge, which paved the way for the child’s adoption by his foster family.

There is still a long list of children under five in Nunavik who need services, Sirois said. When profit-sharing cheques from the Raglan mine are handed out in Nunavik, some youth protection workers have ended up looking after as many as seven babies, all in need of urgent care, she said.

The commission asked that the practice of handing out profit-sharing cheques to families be changed, but that hasn’t happened, she added.

Some possible recommendations for action, raised during Monday’s session, were more administrative in nature: such as gaining more help from Quebec’s Education Ministry to make it easier for Inuit youth who are under youth protection care in Montreal to attend English schools in the city.

Others included finding more Inuit and Indigenous foster families and providing more structure for non-Inuit or Indigenous foster families to provide cultural input to the children in their care.

And, for social services, there’s a need to increase the percentage of Indigenous staff within youth protection.

Picard said he has seen slow but encouraging progress in Nunavik since the creation of partnership committees that followed a damning 2010 report on youth protection in Nunavik.

Inuit are not against the youth protection principles which are based on the rights of children, but there are problems with the processes, and often these are not well understood, he said.

So, there are probably “other methods we need to think about,” which put communities in charge of children, he suggested.

Picard pointed to the recent change in policy to allow Nunavik parents to go with their children on the Quebec ambulance jet as an example of possible change.

Makivik Corp. appeared before the Viens commission last June in Val d’Or, and called for “an Inuit-specific approach” to services delivered in Nunavik.

Since then, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services and Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association have also travelled to Val d’Or to participate.

Tuesday’s session in Montreal was scheduled to take place behind closed doors, but you can follow the open proceedings online on the commission’s website or check the schedule of witnesses.

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(9) Comments:

#1. Posted by Between French, inuit and a hard space. on March 13, 2018

Northern Quebec. Noveav quebec. Nunavik. Can anyone remember bill 101, I do. I mean remembering it coming to Nunavik.? It was a bad day. Not going to go near James bay north agreement here, it’s screwed up, just saying. Oh , how life was good then, none of this political , abusive living. A few SQ officers that was not worth their own waste, but we didn’t care about that. It never interfered with our day living routines. A few good nurses, social workers? Not sure if we had them. We , are unfortunately disturbed by the French cultural, that’s it that’s all. It’s time that we start a campaign, called “ your have won a trip to the south, one way by charter”. Gather up the culprits and fly them out, stat, as a doctor would say, Stat. I’m not sure how we could manage thereafter, but I’m sure losing our kids is not that good either. Let’s stand up to these idiots for our children. Your charter is on the runway, waiting for you, go.

#2. Posted by A place for a house on March 13, 2018

Imagine this. Our land to the hydro quebec, with a garrentee deal that every Inuk born thereafter gets a house to live in comfortably on our land. Let’s get that deal.

#3. Posted by Not even on March 14, 2018

#2 Typical entitled attitude one encounters constantly in the north.

“The government owes me this, it owes me that… I am responsible for nothing…”

Round and round it goes.

#4. Posted by Charlie on March 14, 2018

We are turning a blind eye to our younger generation in regards to educating them. Look around your community, all the graduates are doing nothing, more like waiting for the sky to fall.

#5. Posted by C. Stephen on March 15, 2018

A few points on Nunavik life:

Review the police sidearms use, it was a too rushed approval process by the regional government when it was enacted, we now know that disturbed persons with suicidal tendencies confront officers, there are tools other than a 9mm Glock that are available, carrying arms in a cruiser for quick access ought to be good enough in the rare instances when needed. The show of arms in everyday community life is a carry over from the south where more sidearms has increased problems. Strict sidearms regulation for police officers as well as the public ought to be enacted.

The high cost of living is not helped when annual rents in social housing are growing in double digits.

Workers from the south would not be living and working in Nunavik if they had to survive on our wages. Its tough to get by on small wages when a cart of groceries costs $200+.

House design ought to include input by northern residents.

to be continued…

#6. Posted by Lot to improve on March 15, 2018

In Nunavik , like anywhere , there’s work to be done. Fire arm, side arm, all a concerning issues. But our biggest issue is to deal healthy ways with whatever we are not handling well. That includes having more healthy relationship with drugs and alcohol, if that can be possible, but I’m not too sure it can be here in Nunavik. Coping by way of intoxicating is one of our major set backs. We have the traumatic history, but are not coping well, in that we are killing our self, with chemical use. Our children are suffering the most. You know, all the talk about police and side arms , fatal shootings. It’s all the result of our own making. Why do we need some many police? You tell me.

#7. Posted by Weapon of choice on March 15, 2018

Mentally ill and suicidal confrontations with police or the general public with a weapon is very serious, if not life threatening to the one being confronted. Yes, it would be more humane to disable the individual, but it’s difficult for everyone, police are not trained per say, but doing what they can. I’m sympathetic, but I’m also not against the police.

#8. Posted by Not enough educated on March 15, 2018

We are not accomplishing an education. Young people are graduating from school, and ending up in dead end jobs. Even the youth that are in the news as leaders of this and that organization are with little education. Probably high school , plus a tiny exposure to some limited secondary school, and then they’re made out to be role models, no no, that’s not the way. Many youth are graduates and then offered some high positions in an organization, just to stop their educational possibilities right in their tracks. Making and having babies are high on the priority, no insight into the trials and tribulations of raising a family, with challenges, like work, house, good healthy. It’s in the people, not in the house. If you took at look at local people thar are truly qualified for profession jobs, you find hardly none. But opportunity is ten fold compared to other regions of the country.

#9. Posted by Arctic Buzzard on March 22, 2018

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again…Nunavik needs a good dictator to enforce common sense into the mindset of a runaway train of the mental attitudes of ‘we have rights’, ‘we are victims’, we need to start from the elementary level to reeducate the values we hold to which are being smothered by loud alien ways of sigmund fruede’s (although right in many ways) undeniable findings. Adapting through well thought detours, changes, and move forward.  just a thought worth a penny or two.

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