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Child Welfare (1-5)

‘When am I coming home?’: Vulnerable Nunavut kids face loneliness, despair as millions spent sending them south

March 4, 2024

Global News: Iqaluit, Nunavut — Connie MacIntosh was working as a social service worker in Pond Inlet, a tiny hamlet in Nunavut, when her phone rang.

On the line was a representative from a company operating group homes for youth in southern Ontario, more than 3,000 kilometres away.

She said the caller had a request: they wanted kids from Nunavut.

“They would call up and go like, ‘We’ve got three empty beds,’” said MacIntosh, who was a supervisor for Nunavut’s Department of Family Services between 2012 and 2017 and is now retired.

A months-long Global News investigation has found that amid a backdrop of what workers describe as aggressive targeting and recruitment efforts, Nunavut was billed 53 per cent more per day, on average, for a child to live in an Ontario group home compared with what children’s aid societies in Ontario paid.

Click to play video: 'The New Reality: The Business of Indigenous Kids in Care'

43:34 The New Reality: The Business of Indigenous Kids in Care

The government of Nunavut is responsible for placing kids into group or foster care arrangements. Over the last four years, it spent millions sending its youth outside the territory.

Despite that, Global’s investigation found that some kids and teens received inadequate care when sent south, according to internal government emails, group home inspections, and interviews with more than 45 former group home workers, former government staff and other Inuit child-welfare experts.

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