Child Welfare (1-5): Current Problems

City of Montreal

April 19, 2022

Government and Institution Issues

Indigenous Youth Care in Montreal

NationTalk: Exactly six months after it asked the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to launch an inquiry on its own initiative into systemic racism in employment and service delivery at Batshaw Youth and Family Centers, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) still has not received any response.

The silence is treated as the Commission’s failure to live up to its national commitment on Reconciliation and the Viens Commission’s calls to action on access to justice for Indigenous people. Last week, NWSM called on Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière and the Minister responsible for Youth Protection, Lionel Carmant, to intervene.

On October 19, 2021, NWSM in cooperation with CRARR asked that the Commission examine barriers to the equitable representation of Indigenous people in all job categories at Batshaw and the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, which manages Batshaw. NWSM has been concerned about staffing practices that discriminate against Indigenous people, such as filling designated Indigenous positions with non-Indigenous people, and job requirements that exclude Indigenous candidates.

NWSM also asks that the Commission examine systemic racism in services for Indigenous families at Batshaw, including problems with accurate data collection on Indigenous status resulting in misidentification of Indigenous clients; racial profiling of Indigenous children and mothers, and perpetual lack of culturally adapted services.

In November, NSWM’s request received official support from Quebec Native Women and the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL). In fact, AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard wrote to the Commission Chair Philippe-André Tessier himself in support of the request.

Six months later, the Commission has yet to respond. In the meantime, other incidents involving Batshaw’s treatment of Indigenous children continue to raise concerns.

Despite CRARR’s request for an update on March 17, 2022, the Commission has never replied.