Judge reserves decision on whether Nunavik class action suit can go forward

Lawsuit alleges discriminatory and unlawful underfunding of child welfare services in Quebec

A public hearing for authorization of a class-action lawsuit based on how child welfare services treated Nunavik Inuit youth was heard on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 in the Superior Court of Quebec. This is the early stage of determining how the suit proceeds. (File photo by Sarah Rogers)

By David Lochead

A judge has reserved her decision on whether a class-action lawsuit alleging discriminatory and unlawful underfunding of child welfare services in Quebec will go forward.

Justice Marie-Christine Hivon heard arguments on whether the suit would be authorized as class action in Superior Court of Quebec on Monday and Tuesday.

“[It] went well,” said William Colish, who is part of the legal team presenting the suit.

Sotos Class Actions filed the suit with two other law firms, Kugler Kandestin LLP and Coupal Chauvelot s.a. in Montreal.

The lawsuit was put forward by two petitioners who went through the child welfare system in Nunavik. Both the Canadian and Quebec governments are named in the lawsuit.

By allegedly failing to provide child welfare, health services and social service to Inuit at a level that any other child receives, both governments have breached the members’ constitutional right to equality, the lawsuit alleges.

All Inuit Nunavik youth impacted by child welfare services since 1975 are eligible to join. All off-reserve First Nations and Métis youth through Quebec who have been removed from their homes dating back to 1992 can also join.

“The problem is well known, it’s been well documented,” Colish said of the allegations.

“And yet, nothing substantive has changed over the years.”

Colish said the legal team for the suit brought forward multiple arguments that come down to one basic point on the legal arrangement between the federal and provincial governments on providing family services.

That point is: “The service in the youth protection system that is being provided is simply not up to the demand and hasn’t been financed in a way that is to the needs of the family and children in Nunavik [particularly] and for off-reserve children and for Métis,” he said.

During the public hearing of the authorization of the suit, online viewers voiced their displeasure at a lack of translation services for the part of the proceeding that was in French.

It is lawful to speak French during the proceeding because of the Official Languages Act, Colish said. He added that during this stage of a class-action lawsuit, translation services typically are not provided.

“But it is possible that later on in the proceedings that translation services are something that could be [provided],” he said.

“Especially given that a good segment of the class [in the suit] may not understand French.”

It is difficult to predict when the judge will make a decision on whether the hearings proceed, Colish said.

Lawyers for the Quebec and federal governments did not respond to a request for comment for this story.


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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by ..So they can fill their own pockets on

    Dyp, grouphome, shame shame.. and the only one not profiting for themselves is foster families.

    Look at the benefits these youth welfare service employees get.

    Look at the many leisurely items broken once unboxed because of the children’s anger issues.

    As if spending money for your employees and on non educational or non therapeutical items will rehabilitate a child.

    Meanwhile they send the child back, more broken than before, to an abusive family with a substance problem.

    Round two? Anyone?

    Now let’s talk about the foster families with little to no background checks. Making nothing off of the children they foster and even go into debt.. forcing the child once again to be sent back into an abusive family with a drug problem.

    Defund dyp salaries, defund unnecessary budgets for leisurely items, that will be wasted anyway, and see how much you save.

    I suggest using that 1,000,000 some
    odd dollars youth welfare
    services spend on a console, tv, JUNK FOOD, travel benefits, cargo benefits, gas slips, every few months per community on some sewing machines and wood or metal crafting supplies that these kids could be proud of once the end result is accomplished. Toss some of that to the struggling local foster parents or even their own distant family forced to take them in while you’re at it.

    Yes, I said JUNK FOOD. You ever go see what they eat? It’s just a little less disgusting than the greed that child welfare workers show.

    • Posted by See, that’s what happens on

      I was thought by my grandmother that if I don’t live my family, chances are no one will love them like I’m capable of. That’s the story of kids in Nunavik. They’re not loved by the families that are abusive to them, therefore someone else steps in , like dyp, foster homes, group homes. They are then treated like numbers, not people. I’m thankful and proud of my family values, what about you ?

      • Posted by … so they can fill their own pockets on

        Yes, I share a similar story. I know first hand of that. I always thought what it was like to be a happy family. There is no such thing. The thing is that dyp will force Inuit to make a false statement against the other parent with malice, at times, too(ie, if you don’t tell us what happened during your argument, we will take the kids away from you.). Then one of the parents takes the fall, causing more than many issues that disrupt the whole community, and losing that bond.

        All so they can fill their own pockets.

        • Posted by ..So they can fill their own pockets on

          When I state there is no such thing as a happy family.. every family has its troubles. Every family has its arguments. Every family drives to be happy but every family will never truly be happy. It’s life and putting DYP at the forefront to bring Justice to petty arguments, only to disrupt the family bond, the community is also affected. With all the back talk about “This person is that.” Or “this family is that.” Causes a lot of distrust which then causes pain to those who hear it and is passed down like the virus it is to other community members.

          I remember the days DYP wasn’t even in existence. Trust was a lot more and the community had others backs. DYP came in and took that all away.

    • Posted by You got lots to say on

      You got lots to say, but you should be saying it to the people around your community. There will be no need for dyp, foster homes, if people love their children. You should tell people around you about that. And I’m sure you’re a good example , when it comes to buying and caring for family, like food and rent before booze. People make their own troubles in life. Look at the wars and destruction around the world, aren’t you happy to wake up to peace? Loving children comes naturally to loving parents and communities. What’s going on in your community?

  2. Posted by Self government. on

    Inuit and self government? Nope. How can there be self government, when kids are not even looked after ? Don’t hear much about that self government (want to be) in recent news. Maybe someone is starting to realize that if we can’t even look after our children, how will we look after a government? All this child mess starts at the ground Zero areas of home and community. Maybe the judge will see that clearly, and realize that the system is broken, but the Nunavik family is also broken from within, not without.

  3. Posted by Andrew on

    Shame. The church brought shame to young people. Forcing “hell’ onto every consequence. It is okay to get abortions. Church also allowed the pedos to do what they do. Abuse, go church, get forgiven and abuse some more. I know a bunch of women who were shamed for wanting abortions after sexual assaults. Also, we do not have couples counselling. Some individuals in relationships don’t know how to deal with trauma making it difficult on a relationship. I know its a difficult subject, but how can we help new parents stay stable, scheduled, paid (working income), involved and engaged? Parenting classes? Lobby against the church? Couples therapy? Court ordered forced sterilization? Put something in the water? What do we do? We know the problems, as they are presented as facts in the data. What factual systems can be implemented? Don’t just give opinions, give policy examples, give real transpired documented stories or examples. No more of this he said she said.

    • Posted by Forcing hey? on

      They forced shame, they force me to drink. What’s the problem here? Somebody is always forced into something. I’m not buying into this ridiculous idealism. It’s fake, it’s cheap, and it gets you nowhere. Grown men and women where I came from would not accept any force from NOOne. And would died to protect children.

    • Posted by Church for stupid people on

      Church has done well for itself on stupidity in the people that follow and just lead into what the church says. I grew up with the church, it was a system, but I wasn’t going to be stupid enough to have religious rule my life, or my family as I became more aware of the sickness of religion. But there are still people, stupid people still singing and sining with the same tune., there no hope for them. If it’s not religious doctrine, it’ll be other BS from their perception of somebody trying to control them.

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