Nunavik children in foster care outside region not offered tutoring in Inuktitut

Nunavik’s school board has offered tutoring service since 2014

A street scene in Kuujjuaq. Nunavik children in foster care outside of the region aren’t getting access to Inuktitut-language tutoring, but neither health nor education authorities can say why not. (File photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Sarah Rogers

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.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Become the change you want to see on

    Instead of blaming government and organizations for aboriginal language loss in children who must be placed in a different region due to lack of foster homes in their own communities, why not instead take it as a wake-up call to stop tolerating so much dysfunction in the communities? Instead of pointing the finger at outsiders who will never be able to provide this and are doing their best to provide what help they can, why not point the finger where it belongs, at the parents who fail their kids, and the communities who tolerate the lifestyles that lead to the kids not being safe and having to be fostered elsewhere?

    Those who aren’t willing to change their own lifestyles and communities so that the kids can be safe, can’t very well blame those who do step in to help for not being able to provide every single feature of the community that they had to leave behind. It will never happen anyway, even if you pour money and resources into it. If you don’t learn your language in your own (preferably safe and nurturing) home, it’s very unlikely you will learn it anywhere else, even in school.

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  2. Posted by Devastating on

    It is so heartbreaking to see small children on the flights every week being taken away. Where they are like stolen and will never know their language, their family and culture. One qallunnaak woman’s knowledge of Inuktitut word was: dabaduuk (bad), and said it to kid every few minutes so already the kid will grow up labeled and having dabaduuk instilled and thinking he is.

    The fostered will probably go back up north when they turn 18, after being disowned when their foster $$$ is cutoff. And having no place in society.

    I wonder how many kids are out of the region being used to pocket nice big dollars.
    The leaders should think of building institutions in the region where the children will keep their Identity and to save them.

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    • Posted by Really about money? on

      For information, the HealthKit board made big changes to encourage inuit parents to become foster family.

      The inuit foster family receive 36 500$ clear every year to take care of one children. They have very low criterias about the housing, the bed room, the follow-up with yp.
      The qallunaaks foster family downsouth receive 9 500$ every year for one children. They have really high criterias to respect, and have visit every week from YP to check on them, budget follow up, to take care of the same children.

      I think this change is a really good way to keep children up north. But please, stop saying qalunnaks are all about money.

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      • Posted by Not true on

        You are wrong about 9500$
        What about 700-1000$ every 2 weeks? It includes clothing, food and it was same for Northern foster families until they said, wait a minute, this is not fair, everything is higher price in the north, unnecessarily when there are so many subsidies. Where and who is getting all the subsidies? Is the big question too. There is no way 9500$ was ever been paid, even if it was, it’s enough for “the child” in need. Stop making other Qallunaak look desperate and “Saviours,” it’s the last thing they need right now when good hearted people are constantly pushed away. Maybe you are one of those, who only sees $$$$$ from each child and forget about the culture. Desperate!

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        • Posted by Really ? on

          I know what I receive.
          25$ per day (25$x 365 = 9 125$) and yes it is enough to take care of one children.
          Just stop your drama, I was saying that Is a really great thing that the Inuit family receive lot more 100$ per day(100$ x 365 = 36 500$)
          It this a really good way to keep them north.

          • Posted by Caring family on

            Hello,
            It is the same for us.
            We live up North for many years.
            We receive also the famous 9,500$.
            And we do, taking ourself Inuktitut classes and our kid having Inuktitut classes with Native Montreal.
            The issue is, that we wanted to stayed affiliated to the Nunavik up north, but the Health board pushed us away, we have no choice got to go with Batshaw.
            The living cost upnorth is higher, but not 4 times more than Montreal.
            And I think if the Nunavik keep the link with the family instead of pushing them away, they will have more power to insure the culture preservation.

        • Posted by Qalunnaaq on

          « Right now when good hearted people are constantly pushed away. Maybe you are one of those, who only sees $$$$$ »
          Did you already foster a kid before ?
          Do you know what happening right now?
          Do you know that many kids are doing more than 10 foster families because the foster parents don’t want to take care of them?
          So what’s your point when a child is completely broken. When he tries more than 10 Inuit foster family – where he has been neglected and sexually abuse. When this 3 years old self-harm himself, stop completely talking, is not able to sleep more than 2 hours in a row because of nightmares and scream and cry a part of the night, developping too lunges conditions.
          Who dare are you to presume that qalunnaks try make money on that boy, putting all energy to heal him. Just don’t comment when you ignore something.

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  3. Posted by Help the parents on

    There are still very caring “Qallunaak” families who take in kids into their homes. I know personally those who go beyond, making efforts to stay connected to the families and offer activities to the kids like they are their own. There are also Cree people taking good care of the Inuit children. And there are also Inuit families who open their homes to care for the children.
    Lack of support to the mothers is also a big root problem. Women are expected to do so much and given very little support from the families. When they are exhausted, when they have bottled up their emotions, they tend to turn to alcohol, start binge drinking as if it’s their time now to be careless. Is postpartum depression and sleep deprivation ever been talked about?
    Mothers are expected to care for their children, pay bills and be there for emotional support to others, and when they need a break, it’s like no no no, you’re a mother, you don’t get to have a day off. Relatives need to step up and not always rely on dyp.
    Instead of putting kids in foster care, maybe it would be nice to build a place where woman can go in to relax. Almost like a daycare, where the parents get to bring their kids in even for a night or the weekend so they can get back to their regular routine refreshed. I think it would be a safer place then leaving their kids alone or with strangers in their house.
    Everybody needs a break sometimes.

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  4. Posted by The saddest on

    This is an Inuit problem, but it need not be a completely total Inuit solution. There’s is help from the province and the country, but. There’s a big but. It’s like this: Inuit must own this problem first and foremost, even though the help to resolve it can be found outside the region. There has to be motivation from within. Yes, Inuit leadership needs reorganization. In this article you can find the regional board of health and social services, and the KI literally blinded by what’s going on with this situation about our kids being taken away. There’s a big lack of knowledge for the numbers of children being taken away, and if you look further you’ll soon find a big lack of knowledge and awareness to the whole situation of why. No insight. There’s hardly awareness to how these kids are doing, other than having someone from outside the region alerting us to the fact that things are not going well. I have no confidence personally that Inuit leadership will ever understand what’s happening. I’m depending on human rights to help Our children. This Nunavik that we all know and live in today Is devastated by abuses, sexual, physically, psychologically, alcohol fuelled and drugs. The whole Nunavik society needs a major wake up. How can children be healthy in an alcohol and drug infestation where abuses are continued and getting worse? What kind of people would hurt kids to the point of having them taking away from them. What makes a society do that, and blame someone else for it all? Kids will grow up to continue the same abuse they are exposed to. The saddest.

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  5. Posted by really on

    They pay $50 a day per child and family services takes forever for the Inuit foster parents to get paid even though all the documents are properly submitted. Sometimes they wait like up to 2 months while the white folks are paid right away. If they would treat everybody the same they would have more Inuit foster parents. They can be so demanding too saying stuff like “no they have to go to your place right now” Also the foster parent have to pay from their pockets to buy clothing, school supplies etc. then get reimbursed from Family Services and that takes forever. Imagine that you have 3 kids of your own and fostering other kids too that adds up quite a bit. Having a heart sometimes gets taken for granted from the system!

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