Long-awaited Quebec legislation to recognize Inuit custom adoptions

One in five newborns in Nunavik adopted under traditional practices

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Makivik Corp. executives sit in on Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s annual general meeting in September. The Nunavik Inuit birthright organization says it has lobbied for years to have Quebec recognize the status of Inuit involved in customary adoption practices. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)


Makivik Corp. executives sit in on Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s annual general meeting in September. The Nunavik Inuit birthright organization says it has lobbied for years to have Quebec recognize the status of Inuit involved in customary adoption practices. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Nunavik leaders say they welcome long-awaited changes to Quebec legislation that will recognize the status of Inuit involved in traditional adoptions.

Bill 113, tabled in Quebec’s National Assembly Oct. 6, includes new provisions that will recognize Inuit custom adoption, to ensure the constitutional and treaty rights of adopted children and their parents are respected.

Bearing the lengthy title, “Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regard adoption and the disclosure of information,” the new law would require that a unique birth certificate be issued to reflect an adopted child’s new lineage.

Makivik Corp. President Jobie Tukkiapik said his organization is happy to see the changes, which “encompass the long-due legal recognition of the effects of Inuit customary adoptions on the civil status of Inuit adoptees, their parents and puukuluit (biological mothers) in the respect of this important customary institution for Nunavik Inuit,” in an Oct. 6 release.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services says that one out of every five newborns in Nunavik is adopted under traditional Inuit adoption practices.

The new provisions introduced in Bill 113 were put forward following consultation with Makivik, the NRBHSS, and other Aboriginal groups in Quebec.

Nunavik organizations say they’ve been lobbying for changes to Quebec’s legislation since the 1990s, including through the 2012 report of the province’s Working Group on Aboriginal Customary Adoption in Quebec.

Two legislative bills were introduced with provisions in both 2012 and 2012, but never passed due to provincial elections being called.

Elisapi Uitangak, chair of the NRBHSS, called the tabled legislation “a giant step towards action based on community members’ involvement and on the traditional Inuit cultural system to empower Nunavimmiut,” in an Oct. 6 release.

Officials with both the health board and Makivik Corp. said they renewed a commitment with their Quebec counterparts Oct. 6 to implement the new legislation, once passed.

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