Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 20, 2016 - 11:45 am

Inuk elder MLA says Nunavut Family Services department traumatizes families

“We are going to see a disintegration of the family”

JIM BELL
Isaac Shooyook, the MLA for Quttiktuq, said Oct. 19 that the child apprehension practices of the Family Services department traumatizes families. (FILE PHOTO)
Isaac Shooyook, the MLA for Quttiktuq, said Oct. 19 that the child apprehension practices of the Family Services department traumatizes families. (FILE PHOTO)

Quttiktuq MLA Isaac Shooyook, a passionate believer in the traditional Inuit ways he absorbed growing up on the land, used question period and a member’s statement Oct. 19 to protest the child apprehension policies of the Department of Family Services.

“We are going to see a disintegration of the family under the current system,” Shooyook said in a member’s statement.

And he said that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is “totally non-existent” in the work of Family Services and the RCMP.

That’s because GN bureaucrats seize children arbitrarily, sometimes without informing their families.

When such children are put into foster care, the children and parents alike are traumatized, Shooyook said.

“We have lost our authority and power over our children and this is disintegrating the family,” he said, speaking entirely in Inuktitut.

This isn’t the first time that Shooyook has complained about the GN’s neglect of Inuit culture.

In March 2015, he staged a one-person walkout from the legislative chamber to draw attention to what he called the absence of Inuit traditional knowledge within the Nunavut government’s policies and practices.

Though it’s not entirely clear from the English interpretation of Shooyook’s statement, it appears that the MLA’s complaints were sparked by the recent apprehension of two children in his constituency, an action he alleged was done without the knowledge of the parents.

“I have been told by many people that children were apprehended without the parents being informed,” Shooyook said.

Family Services Minister Johnny Mike said, “this is the first I’ve heard of it,” in response to a question about the situation.

But Mike said he would look into Shooyook’s complaint, and he said Family Services staff try to work closely with families to resolve child welfare problems.

“I totally agree with you that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit should be used,” Mike said.

 

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