November 19, 2020
“Are They Listening?”
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) – In 2018, without involvement or engagement of First Nations in Manitoba or the AMC, the Province of Manitoba unilaterally passed “The Advocate for Children and Youth Act” that expanded the scope and authority of MACY. As part of their expanded mandate, the MACY is now able to publicly report on the government’s progress regarding recommendations made in various reports. From 2018 to 2020, MACY identified 23 recommendations to improve government services as it pertains to children and youth. However, the compliance rate to implement these recommendations is significantly lower.
“Many of the recommendations in these reports were informed by the tragic loss of First Nations children and youth who were chronically underserved by government systems. Our First Nations children are grossly overrepresented in these systems including 90% of First Nations children in the provincial foster care system, and 80% of Indigenous youth in the Manitoba youth justice system,” stated Chief Francine Meeches, Chair of the AMC Women’s Council.
In addition to the lack of compliance, the report identified that due to the lack of comprehensive youth-focused mental health supports, the province has been utilizing Child and Family Services and the justice system to intervene in crisis situations. It was further identified that front line workers in the child welfare system are not adequately equipped to respond to high-risk interventions; as a result of a lack of training in the implementation of the provincial minimum standards under the Child and Family Services Act. “This is an issue of deeply rooted systemic racism in the Province of Manitoba, coupled with what appears to be strategic underfunding of preventive care needed to support these vulnerable children. The province of Manitoba needs to do more than perpetuate the status quo,” concluded Chief Francine Meeches.
Three critical barriers to the implementation of recommendations:
- Publicly release and take action on existing reviews into child serving systems, including the youth justice system review and the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education review
- Release an action plan with timelines to implement the youth-specific recommendations issued in the government’s 2018 Improving Access and Coordination of Mental Health and Addiction Services: A Provincial Strategy for all Manitobans (also known as the Virgo Report). In addition to an action plan and timelines, the government of Manitoba needs to commit appropriate resources to eliminate service barriers and improve mental health outcomes for children and youth, and
- Ensure that the four child and family services authorities and the Department of Families engage their respective legislated roles and responsibilities to ensure that training for workers and supervisors is adequately resourced, accessible, and monitored. Further, they must ensure that minimum service standards are clarified and effective, and that a quality assurance framework is developed and used to verify that all families receive the standards of service to which they are entitled. This is of particular importance during a time of significant transition with the coming- into-force of federal CFS legislation.
November 13, 2020
“Are They Listening?”
Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth – Issued “Are They Listening?” her first public compliance report summarizing the provincial government’s responses to the Advocate’s recommendations issued in 2018 and 2019. “While there is movement, it is disappointing to note that over a period of two years, only two recommendations for service improvements have been implemented fully, and less than half (43%) of recommendations have achieved positive compliance assessments.
Of all the government departments monitored by the Advocate, compliance levels are as follows:
Justice: Partially compliant at 50%
- Significant improvements overseeing pepper spray use and communicating victim services benefits to eligible children and youth.
- Significant work remains on the issues of segregation and solitary confinement use in youth custody facilities.
Education & Training: Compliance limited at 38%
- made some improvements and taken early steps to address chronic absenteeism, suspensions, and expulsions.
Families: Mid-level compliance at 35%
- made investments to comply with recommendations on child and youth sexual exploitation,
have only taken early steps to address improvements to the quality assurance of child welfare services.
- Additional areas that remain concerning include staff training and knowledge as well as outdated service standards.
Health, Seniors and Active Living: low compliance rating averaging 25%.
- Improving mental health and addiction services lag behind and have not progressed significantly since they were issued.
- Child death reviews and investigations continue to see this as an area with significant gaps for children, youth, young adults, and their families
The 23 recommendations were issued in the first four special reports under The Advocate for Children and Youth Act, which came into force in spring 2018. The 23 recommendations were from:
- Documenting the Decline: The Dangerous Space Between Good Intentions and Meaningful Interventions (2018) – Circling Star,
- In Need of Protection: Angel’s Story (2018) (38% compliant)
- Learning from Nelson Mandela: A Report on the Use of Solitary Confinement and Pepper Spray in Manitoba Youth Custody Facilities (2019) (42% compliant)
- A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine (2019). (45% compliant)
November 4, 2021
“Finding the Way Back”
Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth – “Finding the Way Back: An aggregate investigation of 45 boys who died by suicide or homicide in Manitoba” between 2009 and 2018 is a special report structured to reflect the wisdom of the medicine wheel, with four chapters representing the four directions and stages of life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood. The aggregate investigation revealed common and modifiable risk factors for the young men who died, 78% of whom were identified as First Nations youth and 49% of whom lived in northern Manitoba. Risk factors included:
- living in poverty;
- experiencing racism and discrimination; witnessing caregiver substance use and intimate partner violence between adults;
- involvement with the justice system;
- poor attendance in school; and
- problematic substance use.
- Gang involvement was also a commonality among many of the young men who died by homicide.
Advocate makes 4 recommendations to address systemic inequities experienced by First Nations children, youth, and communities:
- Coordinate between government and child and family services authorities to include evidence-based and culturally safe supports for parents with substance use disorders in their homes with the goal of reducing apprehensions.
- Continue work on an Indigenous Inclusion Strategy that includes culturally appropriate school engagement initiatives tailored to Indigenous boys to help close the achievement gap and increase high-school completion rates.
- Demonstrate development or continuation of sustainable initiatives in anti-racist education for all students, administrators, teachers, and support staff.
- Collaborate with the Government of Canada and consult with Manitoba communities to update, fund, and implement a provincial youth gang prevention strategy.
March 25, 2019
Child and Youth Protection in Nunavik
The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse raised concerns about the lack of progress on the implementation of recommendations from their 2007 report on child and youth protection services in Nunavik, a follow-up report in 2010, in 2014 and again in 2016. In March 2018, the Commission presented these findings to the “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress“. (The Viens Commission)
“The Commission reiterates the urgency to act in order to create favourable conditions for these communities so they can finally ensure real protection for their rights through the implementation of concrete support measures, in particular by allocating sufficient resources to solve urgent problems related to housing, education, drug addiction and access to health and social services in the field of youth protection.” Philippe-André Tessier, President, The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse
January 19, 2021
Detained: Rights of Children and Youth under the Mental Health Act”
CityNews 1130 – BC Child and Youth Advocate report “Detained: Rights of Children and Youth under the Mental Health Act” found involuntary detentions of B.C. youth rose 162 per cent between 2008 and 2018. In fact, B.C. is the only province in Canada where a capable, involuntary patient has no right to make psychiatric treatment decisions. The unique significance of how First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous people experience mental health detentions is also considered in this report, given the multitude of ways in which the rights and freedoms of Indigenous peoples have been limited and interfered with throughout colonization, residential schools and the child welfare system. Although the involuntary detention of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous children and youth under the Mental Health Act may be intended for their safety and protection, it can be seen and experienced as another link in a long chain of oppression imposed by the state on Indigenous peoples. Of concern to the Representative is the racism experienced by First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous children and youth in hospitals, as documented in the recent report In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care, and the absence of culturally safe and relevant services and supports.
This report found that the number of children and youth who are receiving involuntary mental health services has increased alarmingly. In the 10 years between 2008/09 and 2017/18, these admissions rose from 973 to 2,545 – or 162 per cent. This raises troubling questions about the adequacy of the voluntary, community-based system of care and treatment and its ability to avoid unnecessary involuntary detention. Clearly, the time has come for government to devote special attention to how the Mental Health Act can be improved in its operation and administration to better protect and respect the voice and the interests of children and youth it affects in such profound ways.
The report identifies 14 specific recommendations, a number of which apply specifically to First Nations, Métis and Inuit children and youth.
March 29, 2022
Discriminatory practices in Indigenous child Welfare funding
NationTalk – British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) is calling upon the provincial government through the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to end discriminatory funding practices and adopt Canadian Human Rights Tribunal principles for Indigenous child welfare funding in B.C. in a report released today.
The report, “At a Crossroads: The roadmap from fiscal discrimination to equity in Indigenous child welfare“, which sought to map child welfare funding and service delivery in B.C., highlights funding practices by MCFD that, at the federal level, have already been deemed discriminatory through a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling. It also points out the need for the ministry to update its fiscal management system so that public funds allocated to First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous child welfare can be aligned with stated spending objectives and declared government and ministry priorities regarding reconciliation.
“The findings of this report are troubling,” said Representative Jennifer Charlesworth:
- “First, the level of child welfare services a First Nations, Métis, Inuit or Urban Indigenous child or family receives depends on where they live – on- or off-reserve, due to differing funding sources – and who they are served by. This leads to gaps and inequities that have no place in a province committed to reconciliation.
- “Second, MCFD’s system for allocating funding is so broken that it is not possible to link ministry funding with the commitments to reconciliation government has made or to outcomes for kids. Without knowing how much money is spent on Indigenous child welfare and what the outcomes of those expenditures are, how can any assessment be made of how well First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous children and families are being supported in B.C.?”
The intent of the report was to map the fiscal ecosystem of funding to services in order to reveal gaps and to create a comprehensive picture of how – and how much – money is being spent on First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous compared with non-Indigenous child and family services, how that spending translates into services being delivered, and what kinds of outcomes are being achieved for young people.
From the data gathered, the Representative made two startling findings:
- first, that resource allocation to a young person depends on where they live – on- or off-reserve. This is because funding sources differ depending on residency. Funding for on-reserve child welfare services for those First Nations who work with Indigenous Child and Family Service (ICFS) Agencies comes from the federal government which, as a result of the 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling, funds services – including culturally rooted, needs-based prevention services – at actual costs.
- For off-reserve services, funding comes from the provincial government for child welfare and does not include prevention services. It is funded at lower rates and is also not based on needs.
- A third category of funding exists for on-reserve services for those First Nations who do not have their own ICFS Agencies. For these children, the federal government provides funding for services, but it relies on a different methodology that pre-dates the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling and the funding is transmitted through MCFD, which cannot definitively say how much of it reaches the First Nation.
- First Nations on-reserve served by MCFD, as well as First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous children living off-reserve are at the greatest disadvantage because provincial funding for services for them is much less than for their counterparts living on-reserve.
“These funding differences put ICFS Agencies who support First Nations, Métis or Urban Indigenous children and youth residing off-reserve at a significant disadvantage because they do not receive any benefit from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling,” Charlesworth said. “Some Agencies serve both on- and off-reserve children, and for them, the funding differences are most starkly visible. Those Agencies receive funding from both the federal and provincial governments depending on where each child resides. Different children are allocated different levels of funding based on residence. This is fiscal discrimination, and it needs to end.”
The Representative makes three key recommendations to address these findings:
- that MCFD adopt the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal principles of funding and provide funding models that are culturally based and needs-based, that provide for substantive equality for all First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous children, and that prioritize culturally based community wellness and prevention services
- that MCFD update its ministry-specific fiscal management tools and reporting practices to align public funds allocated to First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous child welfare to stated spending objectives and declared government and ministry priorities
- that MCFD incorporate the Grandmother Perspective, as described in the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner’s 2020 report on disaggregated data collection, to collect disaggregated race-based data to understand the diverse and greater needs of the First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Indigenous populations it serves.
March 2, 2021
Infant Mortality and Youth Suicide
The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth (MACY) and the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba – submitted a report that discusses “the international and national human rights framework as it relates to structural inequalities and Indigenous children’s right to continuous improvement of health with a particular focus on infant mortality and youth suicide in Manitoba, Canada. Specific issues raised for discussion include …the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person, access to justice (preamble, and articles, 6, 7, 8, 22 and 43) and non-discrimination, health, housing (as part of the right to an adequate standard of living and non-discrimination), culture, and education (articles 14, 17, 21)”. The focus on Manitoba includes:
- one in two First Nations children, one in four Métis, one in four Inuit, and one in six non-Indigenous children in Manitoba live in poverty, all higher than in Canada overall.
- Indigenous infants account for between 20-30% of live births in Manitoba between 2009 and 2018, but represent at least 57% of sleep-related infant deaths
- Only 24 of 63 First Nations communities in Manitoba have maternal-child health programs, some of which are ‘pilot’ programs that lack permanent or sustainable funding
- 20 of 22 suicides of female youth between 2012 and 2019 and who were involved with the child welfare system were Indigenous
- while approximately 26% of the child population in Manitoba are Indigenous, they account for approximately 90% of children in the care of child and family service agencies
- 78% of children, youth, and young adults served by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth through ongoing advocacy supports during the 2019/20 fiscal year were Indigenous.
- A study of the overlap between Manitoba’s child welfare and justice systems found that close to one-third of children in care were later charged with a crime as a youth (age 12-17). This study confirmed that the child welfare system in Manitoba serves as a ‘pipeline’ to the youth criminal justice system
- Indigenous youth in Manitoba are 16 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous youth
- In 2016, only 48% of Indigenous students graduated high school “on-time”, compared to 86% of their non-Indigenous counterparts
ONE: Take steps to include the voices, experiences, perspectives, and testimony of Indigenous children and youth to the largest extent possible in any decision or work that may affect them, as enshrined by Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
TWO: Acknowledge the ongoing work towards reconciliation and the fulfillment of Indigenous children’s rights in Canada by evaluating and commenting on the Government of Canada’s compliance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Actions designed to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation in Canada and recommendations made in Honouring the Truth, Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
THREE: Recognize the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples by highlighting Indigenous-led initiatives to fulfill the rights of Indigenous children including maternal- child health programs and youth suicide prevention programs that provide children with the culturally appropriate services they are entitled to receive.
FOUR: Through the development of this study, create opportunities for Indigenous practitioners and advocates around the world to come together to generate connections, and share information and best practices.
FIVE: In order to understand the differential experiences of Indigenous children and youth, the challenges they face, as well as existing gaps in the social determinants of health, it is imperative that governments systematically collect data on Indigenous ancestry, with attention to the principles of ownership, control, access, possession (OCAP®) and principles of Ethical Métis Research. Currently, this gap in information prevents a full understanding of the structural inequalities facing Indigenous children and youth.
SIX: Ensure ethical considerations are upheld and respected in all aspects of this study and any research or data collection involving Indigenous Peoples, and Indigenous children in particular, conducted by governments and other parties. Ethical considerations concerning research for and by Indigenous Peoples should involve free prior informed consent on a collective and individual basis; principles are followed to ensure Indigenous ownership, control, access, and possession of their own data and information; and all research should be respectful and benefit Indigenous Peoples.
SEVEN: Examine the role of fiscal policies that continuously underfund services for Indigenous infants, children, and their families (including schools, mental health services, and prenatal and postnatal supports) as a barrier for the realization of Indigenous children’s right to health.
EIGHT: Recognize the centrality of addressing Indigenous child poverty at the national level as a necessary condition of fulfilling Indigenous children’s right to non- discrimination and health.
NINE: Prioritize analysis of the role of the child welfare system and ongoing apprehension of Indigenous children from their families as this is in direct violation of the right of Indigenous children to a family life, to health, to culture, and to a future.
March 11, 2021
Still Waiting: Investigating Child Maltreatment after the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry”
Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth – released a new special report, “Still Waiting: Investigating Child Maltreatment after the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry” that examines the lives of 19 children who died after being severely maltreated while under the age of five. Roughly seven years after the final report from the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry “Still Waiting” from the Acting Manitoba Advocate tracks the province’s progress on Hughes’ 62 recommendations and in her report makes five more recommendations for child safety and system change.
“What Manitobans will see in our independent report is not nearly enough change has occurred within public systems and child-serving organizations to protect kids. This should be among our highest priorities as adults,” said Ainsley Krone, the Acting Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth. “Children are still dying of maltreatment similar to what Phoenix Sinclair experienced and what is clear is that systemic inequities and social determinants of health are contributing factors in these deaths,” she continued.” More resources and improved supports for families and communities in Manitoba are needed to help them with preventing child maltreatment. Too often, help still arrives after a child’s death, when what families need is help much earlier in establishing safety so children are protected.”
In Hughes’ inquiry report from 2014, he laid out 62 recommendations to better protect Manitoba children after the death of five-year-old Phoenix in June 2005. Despite his recommendations for sweeping changes and repeated acknowledgements by the provincial government in years since that improvements are underway, the Advocate’s latest investigation found that progress has been slow. According to the Advocate’s analysis, 55 per cent of Hughes’ recommendations have been completed so far, seven years after the release of his report. At the current rate of progress, it will be 2028 before all of the recommendations are completed.
Some major changes have occurred in Manitoba’s child welfare system in the past 15 years, including the continued devolution of the system, new child welfare agencies being established, and, more recently, federal legislation aimed at ensuring children can be looked after by their home communities, with sovereign systems for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples. While these large-scale changes alter jurisdictions, legal mandates, stakeholder responsibilities, and other structural factors, the Advocate’s office continues to question whether outcomes and safety for children are improving.
Seven years after the conclusion of the public inquiry, the provincial government has yet to proactively release a complete status report on the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry’s recommendations.
Krone’s five recommendations made to the provincial government and child welfare authorities are:
RECOMMENDATION ONE (System Level): The Government of Manitoba must implement the outstanding recommendations from the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry.
RECOMMENDATION TWO (Community Level): Consistent with Call to Action 5 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Government of Manitoba must work with First Nations and Metis governments and community stakeholders to ensure access to evidence-informed and culturally-safe parenting programs and resources for caregivers of children under the age of five across Manitoba, with attention to rural and remote communities.
RECOMMENDATION THREE (Organization Level): Each child and family services authority must develop and provide the necessary resources to implement a culturally-appropriate reunification policy within their agencies.
RECOMMENDATION FOUR (Direct Service Level): Each child and family services authority must ensure their agencies complete case reviews for every child in care under age five, for whom reunification is planned.
RECOMMENDATION FIVE (Direct Service Level): The Department of Families, through the Joint Training Team, must develop and administer mandatory training for front line workers and supervisors on the risk and protective factors of child maltreatment and best practices for reunification.
October 28, 2021
The Overlap Between the Child Welfare and Youth Criminal Justice Systems:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs – AMC remains concerned regarding the continued lack of supports in place to ensure that youth in care successfully transition after aging out of the Child Welfare system in Manitoba.
First Nations children and youth make up approximately 80% of the number of children in care in this province. With the lack of existing supports, the reality is that many First Nations children aging out of care will become homeless and/or become involved with the justice system. This is documented in several studies, most recently, the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) report, The Overlap Between the Child Welfare and Youth Criminal Justice Systems: Documenting “Cross-Over Kids” in Manitoba, which found significant evidence that involvement in the CFS system is a strong risk factor for contact with the youth criminal justice system.”
The report found that more than one-third of youth in care were charged with at least one crime and by age 21, almost one-half had been charged with a criminal offence. The study also found that First Nations children and youth were greatly over-represented in both the CFS and criminal justice systems. Additionally, according to the 2018 Winnipeg Street census, at least 50 per cent of homeless people surveyed were involved in the CFS system with two-thirds of those having become homeless within the first year of aging out of care.
Young women who have aged out of care are also identified as being more vulnerable to being assaulted, murdered, or going missing. In 2018, First Nations Family Advocate Cora Morgan testified to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and said, “I think it’s really critical for us to be able to have that voice recognized – that there is a direct link between MMIWG and the child welfare system.”
June 24, 2021
Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children
The Honourable John G. Abbott, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, in collaboration with the Honourable Lisa Dempster, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and Labrador Affairs tabled the “Report on Child Welfare Services to Indigenous Children, Youth and Families 2019-20”. This report is in response to Recommendation 33 of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s report “A Long Wait for Change: Independent Review of Child Welfare Services to Inuit Children in Newfoundland and Labrador (2019)”. As the first comprehensive public reporting of information about child welfare services to Indigenous children, youth and families, it sets the baseline from which the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development and Indigenous Governments and Organizations will continue working together to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care.
Among other findings, the report details an overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care, at 36 per cent, when the Indigenous population is 12 per cent. It also notes that while 70 per cent of Indigenous children and youth entering care were placed within their communities or culture, 30 per cent were not. Collectively, actions are being taken to improve these findings. Early positive results show a 42 per cent reduction in the number of Indigenous children and youth coming into care since 2018. The Report provides information to aid in understanding Indigenous client demographics and reasons for child welfare involvement.
June 10, 2021
Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation today announced the appointment of retired Provincial Court Judge James Igloliorte as Chief Commissioner for the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System. The Chief Commissioner will be joined by Anastasia Qupee of Sheshatshiu, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, and Dr. Mike Devine, retired Associate Professor of the School of Social Work, Memorial University, who are appointed as Commissioners of the Inquiry.
The Commission of Inquiry is guided by a shared commitment of the Innu Nation, the Mushuau Innu First Nation, the Sheshatshiu First Nation, and the Provincial Government to ensure the safety and well-being of, and to act in the best interests of, Innu children and youth. The Inquiry will involve a range of processes, including: reviewing relevant documents and records, considering the need for specialized research, and conducting community sessions and hearings. The Provincial Government allocated $4.2 million in Budget 2021 to establish the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System this year.
June 15, 2020
Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate Newfoundland and Labrador – issued a Statement of Concern – “Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children in the Child Protection System”. The Innu are still waiting three years after the Provincial Government made a commitment to establish a formal Inquiry into the treatment of Innu children in the child welfare system.
The report contained 33 recommendations and was entitled ‘A Long Wait for Change.’ The title was carefully chosen and reflected the extraordinary and unacceptable amount of time for changes to be made for these vulnerable children. In part, the report documented decades of work to identify issues and recommendations for Indigenous children and their families and communities, and which included various Inquiries, Commissions, legislation, and reviews. It is troubling that many of my findings were neither new nor unique to this province. However, it put many issues in one place, and in a local context.
April 29, 2022
Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children: Inquiry officially launched
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation today announced the launch of the Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System.
The Commission of Inquiry has been ordered as a Part II Inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act, 2006. The Provincial Government and the Innu have agreed on a Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, which can be found online here. The mandate of the Commission is to examine the treatment, experiences and outcomes of Innu children, youth and families in the child protection system, and to identify recommendations for change. The Inquiry will also include investigations into the particular circumstances leading up to the deaths of three youths.
Commissioners of the Inquiry are retired Provincial Court Judge James Igloliorte, who is Chief Commissioner, and Anastasia Qupee of Sheshatshiu, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, and Dr. Mike Devine, retired Associate Professor of the School of Social Work, Memorial University.
The Commission of Inquiry is guided by a shared commitment of the Innu Nation, the Mushuau Innu First Nation, the Sheshatshiu First Nation, and the Provincial Government to ensure the safety and well-being of, and to act in the best interests of, Innu children and youth.
The Provincial Government allocated $4 million in Budget 2022 to establish the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System.
“With the release of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the treatment of Innu children and youth in care, we can now consider that this long-awaited Inquiry has officially begun. It is an important undertaking to understand the scope of impact that the child welfare system has had on Innu people. We are hopeful that this process will continue a path towards healing and that it will inform how we can best move forward in the future to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. Innu Nation fully supports this independent Inquiry and will work with all involved throughout the process.”
Grand Chief Etienne Rich