Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 15, 2017 - 10:00 am

Child and Family Services Act conflicts with Inuit culture, MLA alleges

Quttiktuq MLA Isaac Shooyook wants removal of words that deter physical discipline

Quttiktuq MLA Isaac Shooyook says that words in the Child and Family Services Act that say “parents should use methods other than force by way of correction towards their children or in the discipline of their children” are in conflict with Inuit culture and should be removed. (FILE PHOTO)
Quttiktuq MLA Isaac Shooyook says that words in the Child and Family Services Act that say “parents should use methods other than force by way of correction towards their children or in the discipline of their children” are in conflict with Inuit culture and should be removed. (FILE PHOTO)

Quttiktuq MLA Isaac Shooyook wants the Government of Nunavut to remove words from the Child and Family Services Act that say “parents should use methods other than force by way of correction towards their children or in the discipline of their children.”

Shooyook raised the issue with Family Services Minister Johnny Mike in question period March 9, asking if he would remove the words, saying they conflict with Inuit culture.

“I am of the firm belief that the wording in this section should be removed from legislation because our cultural beliefs dictate that children have to be lovingly corrected with a small slap, which I have advocated, but only in the context of traditional Inuit child disciplining laws and cultural practices,” Shooyook said.

The words that Shooyook objects to occur in a section that states the law’s basic principles.

Shooyook has made statements on child rearing and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit several times over the course of the legislature’s winter sitting, delivering two statements prior to questioning the Family Services minister.

In a statement Feb. 28, Shooyook recommended the assembly recognize “the good aspects of Inuit customary child rearing techniques and counseling practices,” arguing that the immediate resolution of conflicts can contribute to better lives.

“If we practice some of the child rearing techniques and resolution practices, perhaps Inuit society challenges we face today, although not immediate, would allow our lives to be easier,” he said.

Days later, on March 6, Shooyook rose to clarify what he meant in his previous statements on the disciplining of children, and he defended slapping young children on the hands.

“What I am trying to clear up here is the age at which Inuit children were slapped on the hands. This slapping of the hands only occurred around the ages of four, five, and six where the children are learning social skills,” he said in his statement.

He added that “it seems our fellow residents who aren’t Inuit and understand Inuit culture misunderstood the gist of my comments about children and discipline. It was meant towards the fathers and mothers and the traditional disciplinary actions.”

But he said he doesn’t want children to be abused.

“I don’t want any older children to be beaten or to be disciplined with any type of stick or lash. Instead, the discipline I reference is specific to the ages I mentioned, as they have to know how to socialize and to respect others.”

In his reply to Shooyook’s March 9 question on the Child and Family Services Act,  Mike replied that his department must deal with different cultures that hold different views on disciplining children.

“Nonetheless, what can seem to be a difference between cultures is the need to protect the child who may be at risk, and due to the need to protect children, it sometimes clashes with Inuit cultural values and seems foreign to many Inuit,” Mike said.

Any amendment to Nunavut’s Child and Family Services Act could only occur after extensive legal research and other work, Mike added.

Shooyook also complained that many Inuit struggle with the Child and Family Services Act because there is no Inuktitut version of it.

“Can the minister elaborate on the reasons why such a critical piece of legislation has not been translated into Inuktitut?” he asked.

Mike promised Shooyook that he will look into the issue.

Nunatsiaq News contacted the Nunavut Representative for Children and Youth office for comment on the issue, but did not receive an immediate reply.

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(16) Comments:

#1. Posted by Do your work on March 15, 2017

This MLA would rather talk at length about the intricacies of slapping children than talk about Grise and Resolute Bay. Those residents are the ones who get slapped in the face by being under represented.

#2. Posted by jimmyy on March 15, 2017

#1 ?

#3. Posted by monty sling on March 15, 2017

its culture #1, done for correction, not hate. other cultures cut off hands and heads, lethal injections, etc etc etc, and blah blah blah….I have seen to many spoiled brats in my day and incarceration centers are full of them. sorry for the blunt reply but that’s the way the cookie crumble.

#4. Posted by Blast from the Past on March 15, 2017

IShooyook and JMike from Pang are the next to go.  Their time was up long ago.  It’s time for new representatives for their communities who will actually voice their communities’ concerns instead of being there just for personal reasons.

#5. Posted by Putuguk on March 15, 2017

Shooyook has a point.

It is very clear that Canadian criminal law allows corporal punishment applied in specific circumstances.

Not sure why in Nunavut we would have a stronger stance against corporal punishment than elsewhere in the country.

If people think that corporal punishment is not part of Inuit culture then they are living in lala land as Shooyook well knows.

#6. Posted by Daily NN Reader on March 15, 2017

Good Afternoon

This has my attention, Back in the Days their were Inuit working for the Family Services, Now Today Their all People from Other side of the World, who are staff as a Case worker in the Department, I have not seen one Inuk as a case Worker, Yes there is Assistants Inuk What about Case Worker, What I understand about Mr.Shooyook is trying to say We need More Inuit who are experienced of Our Culture to Understands Us Inuit, Few Year’s back some of Our People were adopted out with out being consulted by their Family, so now the Department has new case worker’s and is has become more Difficult for Children to be united with Family again… Just say my understanding Hope this Help’s !

#7. Posted by Observer on March 15, 2017

There’s nothing wrong with the language in the act. It says “...should use methods other than force…” It doesn’t say “must” or “can’t use force”. Which is entirely appropriate. Force should be the last option used if other methods don’t work.

If a child is doing something wrong, especially if they don’t know it’s wrong, is slapping them the very first thing you do or do you tell them “Don’t do that” first? If two kids are squabbling, is the first thing you do is spank them or do you tell them to knock it off and only escalate if they don’t?

#8. Posted by eff on March 15, 2017

Kids need spanking, it’s a scientific fact.

#9. Posted by the winds of politics on March 15, 2017

#1 the GN run totally by Inuit, then this line of discussion would not have to happen in the first place.

#10. Posted by Ah on March 15, 2017

#9, who would you hire to fill in the daily sick calls and awols?

#11. Posted by no comparison on March 15, 2017

#10 how could you know the outcome when there is no comparison?

#12. Posted by Your Vote on March 16, 2017

Your vote got him in.  Always remember to be wise in marking your X .

#13. Posted by jimmyy on March 16, 2017

You are right #12 we got what we wanted, next time we will have more choice, we did not have much of a choice last time.

#14. Posted by Think about it on March 16, 2017

At least they didn’t blame it on the Raven poop.

#15. Posted by Wannabe on March 16, 2017

Inuit had a system that they called “Inuguqsainiq” which translates “grooming them into being an Inuk”. What Inuit call Inuk is a person who respects and considers other people. If you don’t Inugusai a person no one loves them and don’t bother grooming them for life with other people. Perhap something like those people who can do anything they want to do reguardless if other people want them to behaive in such a manner. Inuit have a saying for child rearings. Making a egg of a person that is bringing up a child without ever being discipline. Implying once grown it will take control of parents and anyone they can without remorse.

#16. Posted by Jeeteetah on March 20, 2017

Shooyook has a point, I hope we parents don’t just tosh it away.

Parental Authority Weakens, some say that a weakening of parental authority began in the 1960’s. when so called experts were urging parents to be more easygoing with their children.  They said: “Be a friend, not an authority figure”.

‘Praise is better then discipline.  “Rather then correct the bad, catch your children in the act of doing good’. Instead of striking a balance between commendation and correction,experts seemed to imply that reprimanding children would damage their fragile emotions and case them to resent their parents later in life.

One Father quoted and put it this way: There is no self esteem movement in the world..If you present a bad report, Your boss is not going to say, “Hey, I like the color paper you chose. Setting kids up like this is doing them a tremendous disservice.With a good old way parenting. “Kids know who the boss was and it wasn’t them.”

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