Nunavik gets a first look at a new intervention plan for the region
Its goal: to stop violence and lower crime
KUUJJUAQ — Faced with rising levels of drug and alcohol-fueled crime, increased numbers of men and women in jail, and youth who are crippled by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, people in Nunavik have a choice.
They can watch their communities and citizens crumble. Or they can consider supporting a bold new community action plan, introduced Sept. 11 at the Kativik Regional Government meeting in Kuujjuaq.
There, longtime educator Lizzie Aloupa and Minnie Grey, a former head of Nunavik’s regional school board and chief self-government negotiator, explained the broad outlines of an alternative intervention plan for Nunavik communities.
For now it’s a only a vision, they said.
But it’s one that Nunavimmiut can choose to embrace at a regional prevention conference scheduled for next month in Kuujjuaq.
And if they support the plan and its goal to restore social peace, keep adults out of jail and give children safer, healthier lives, a pilot project in one community could start as early as this December.
As its base, the plan involves the transformation of the justice system, to strengthen what already exists, change some services, and, when necessary, offer new services.
The idea is to increase efforts made to keep people out of the overloaded justice and corrections system by offering them alternatives, such as rehabilitation, along with more programs to stem the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
That’s nothing new, but to date in Nunavik there’s never been such an elaborate plan as this one, with its detailed, bilingual organizational charts.
The plan would be aimed at offenders, abusers, victims, families and people “who have not been criminalised but are facing problems” — in short, just about everyone in Nunavik.
And it would involve leaders, concerned residents, community services and every level of government.
In practice, the plan would mean that when police arrest someone, a mobile intervention team will size up the problem, and the person, and according to the nature of the crime, look at other options such as detox and rehabilitation.
People would be given “the opportunity to get help,” said Aloupa.
That appealed to regional counsellors like Matiusi Iyaituk of Ivujivik, also a renowned artist. Iyaituk spoke about how the elders of his youth used to meet together to help people who got into trouble in Ivujivik.
“This doesn’t exist in our community anymore because the police took over,” he said.
Maggie Emudluk, the chairperson of the KRG, lamented the large numbers of Nunavimmiut who are in jail. Their absence disrupts municipal services like the delivery of water in the community as well as families, she said.
Kangiqsujuaq’s mayor Mary Pirlutuut, a member of the KRG executive, said she’d welcome the proposed intervention plan in her community, adding that “as a mayor, I am tired — we need assistance.”
At the KRG meeting Grey also spoke at length about the regional partnership committee formed in 2007 to tackle the region’s social problems, which came into the public eye after the investigation by Quebec’s human rights commission first revealed that the region’s social network failed to give children and youth the protection to which they are legally entitled.
Supported by the Ungaluk safer communities program, the regional protection committee strives to support positive social change, based on Inuit culture, language, history and values, and see what works, said Grey, the committee’s chair.
That’s what it’s tried to do in the three Nunavik communities of Salluit, Inukjuak and Kuujjuaraapik, where the local committees have supported such events as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder workshops and breakfast programs.
The committee has also travelled around the region with elders to discuss the need for communities to address social problems.
It’s also worked on the intervention plan report — which carries the unwieldy title of “reconstructing social regulation” in English (Inillatirigiatsianiq Inuuqatigiit in Inutittut).
Grey and Aloupa said they don’t want just to discuss the plan, they would like to see action — although that will be for the communities to determine, they said.
To that end, the two will participate in an elders and leaders retreat in Kuujjuaraapik Oct. 10 to Oct. 11, which will be followed by the regional prevention conference Oct. 15 to Oct. 19.
If the intervention plan is supported, then the next task will be to find money to cover putting it into practice.