Nunavik children in foster care outside region not offered tutoring in Inuktitut
Nunavik’s school board has offered tutoring service since 2014
Nunavik children in foster care outside of the region aren’t getting access to Inuktitut-language tutoring, though the service is available.
Nunavik’s school board recently hired a new Inuktitut-language tutor to work with children who are in the care of Quebec’s department of youth protection outside of the region, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq commissioners heard at council meetings last week.
Kativik Ilisarniliriniq does not have a mandate to educate Nunavimmiut students who live outside of the region, but the school board has had a tutoring service available for those children since 2014.
It’s up to youth protection to request that service, however, and the department has yet to ask for it in recent years, the board said.
“We don’t know yet how many students need this Inuktitut tutoring,” school board commissioner Betsy Annahatak told school board on March 17.
“It’s not meant to teach as much as it’s to refresh their speaking and writing skills,” she said.
The lack of access to academic support, in Inuktitut or other languages, was first flagged in a 2019 report commissioned by Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, which found Inuit children were falling behind academically while in care.
Batshaw oversees English-speaking children who are taken into the care of youth protection, which typically includes Inuit children, given that English is the dominant second language in Nunavik.
The report noted that Nunavimmiut children are not able to attend Montreal-area schools in English due to Quebec’s language restrictions, which would require them to hold an English eligibility certificate.
As a result, the report found that many don’t attend school at all.
Nunatsiaq News contacted the Montreal health and social services agency that oversees Batshaw to ask why the centre has not requested tutoring for the Inuit children in its care, but the agency referred the newspaper to the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services.
The Nunavik health board then referred Nunatsiaq News back to the Kativik school board.
The health board said it did not have access to data on the number of Inuit children in foster care outside of the region.
In the meantime, Quebec’s human rights commission is doing its own investigation of the educational services provided to Inuit children staying in centres managed by Batshaw.
The investigation is now its final stages. It won’t be made public unless there are “systemic aspects” the commission can report, spokeswoman Meissoon Azzaria told Nunatsiaq News in an email Thursday.
The commission’s work did prompt the Kativik school board to sign an agreement with the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services in 2020, the school board said, to help better define each organization’s role in supporting the continued education of Inuit children in the care of youth protection outside the region.