Quebec’s anti-racism task force flawed without Inuit voices: Makivik

Makivik Corp. calls on province to reform Nunavik’s justice and policing systems

Makivik Corp. President Charlie Watt, left, Quebec Premier François Legault and Ungava MNA Denis Lamothe gather for a photo together in 2018. Quebec’s anti-racism task force has extended an invitation to Makivik Corp. to meet with its members in the coming weeks. (Photo courtesy of the Coalition Avenir Québec)

By Sarah Rogers

The Quebec government has announced the creation of a task force to counter racism in the province, and Makivik Corp. has a suggestion for where to start—Nunavik’s justice system.

Although Quebec Premier François Legault has denied there is systemic racism in the province, his government announced on Monday, June 15, the creation of a new “action group” tasked with coming up with ways to combat racism.

The group is composed of seven Coalition Avenir Québec ministers and MNAs, including Lionel Carmant, Quebec’s minister of health and social services; Minister of Indigenous Affairs Sylvie D’Amours; and Ungava MNA Denis Lamothe, who is Nunavik’s representative in Quebec’s legislature.

Legault has asked the group to look at priority areas, such as public security, justice, education, housing and employment in Quebec, and to consider the specific realities of racialized and Indigenous communities.

But Makivik Corp., which represents Inuit in Nunavik, says the group is already flawed without the representation of Inuit or other Indigenous groups.

“The protests taking place around the world highlighting systemic racism inside the justice systems is alive and well in Nunavik and it sickens me,” said Makivik President Charlie Watt in a June 17 statement.

“A systematic overhaul of the administration of the justice system and policing is long overdue. Report after report has called for an overhaul. Study after study has highlighted the deficiencies in both systems and Inuit are suffering discrimination from both systems in all levels from education to health care and the administration of communities.”

Among its demands, Makivik said that Nunavik in particular should have an Inuk chief of the Kativik Regional Police Force.

Makivik also called for a revamp of the region’s youth protection services to reflect Inuit culture and a justice system that is based in the region, rather than one that relies on a circuit court and southern lawyers.

Makivik pointed to a handful of reports and inquiries that have already exposed issues of racism and inequity in Nunavik and within other racialized and Indigenous communities throughout Quebec.

Just last year, Quebec’s Viens Commission—which looked at what barriers Indigenous people face when accessing certain government services—released its findings, along with 142 recommendations.

“The pandemic, and the demonstrations related to systemic racism within police forces, are bringing these issues to the forefront, and we want to work with you to get to the bottom of the problems of policing and the justice system in Nunavik,” Watt said, in a comment directed to the government.

For its part, the task force has been mandated to come up with a series of recommendations to be tabled this fall.

“We were all deeply touched by what happened in the United States,” said Premier Legault earlier this week, referring to incidents of police brutality against Black Americans and the anti-racism protests that have followed.

“We must avoid importing this climate of confrontation here. The majority of Quebecers are not racist. But there is racism in Quebec. We must no longer tolerate acts of racism in Quebec. We must take action.”

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Who’s in charge? on

    Oh yes I agree with Charlie Watt, Nunavik needs lots of consideration when it comes to racism. But I’m not tuning into some of Charlie’s suggestions. Like the chief of police should be Inuk. I got a little problem with that idea, given the history of the police force with Inuit officers. Jobie Epoo was chief of police and we all know how he didn’t handle it well. Maybe Charlie should keep suggesting anyway, like why not have inuk doctor, nurses, director of public health. Why only suggest inuk for KRPF ? What about those other professions? It’s like a chief for the police force, according to Charlie doesn’t need much qualifications, other than being inuk. Not good Charlie. Plus why don’t Charlie help the kids of Nunavik by keeping them into good homes? Yes good homes. I’ll leave up to the imagination of what that means, good homes. Inuit need education. Charlie Watt needs to gain insight of the real grass roots causes, not just make it look good, without solid foundation. Education Charlie, keep stressing that.

    • Posted by Concerned on

      What education though? If the education is from this system, we’re back to square one. Inuit had systems, long before colonists showed up. Time to get them back.

      • Posted by What systems? on

        Education is education. The real educated , the real motivators seeks education like a hungry person for food and water. As a matter of fact many people seek education so profoundly that a teacher is not even needed, but is only an asset. When it comes to opportunity that’s a different thing. Inuit today have abundance of not only opportunities but funds to pave the way. So many people would love that Kind of opportunity. If Inuit are not getting an education, it’s ones own fault, don’t blame any one or any system for that. And if Inuit did have systems in place before, they’re were not very solid, to be able to let others take it away, no time fight or protest needed. Look how many don’t finish the course. Quitting before giving themselves a chance. No one is stopping Inuit from achieving. The society needs to clear itself of drugs and alcohol abuse first and foremost.

      • Posted by Square one on

        When you’re on square one , you must make an effort to continue to square two , and so forth, and so on. Don’t expect anyone to get you to the next square. And please don’t blame anyone if you continue to stay on square one.

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