Arabnews24.ca:Monday 5 June 2023 01:10 PM: 16.1 Honour all socio-economic commitments as defined in land claims agreements and self-government agreements between Inuit and the Crown. Articles 23 and 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and commitments by governments to provide for the housing and economic needs of Inuit, must be fully complied with and implemented.
Between 1975 and 2005, land claims agreements were signed in all four Inuit regions — Inuvialuit (Northwest Territories and Yukon), Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunatsiavut (Labrador) and Nunavut.
Those land claims agreements grant Inuit title to certain blocks of land and, according to Statistics Canada, “cover a wide range of issues, such as land title, fishing and trapping rights, and financial compensation.”
Articles 23 and 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, for example, deal with Inuit employment within government and ensuring Inuit firms can compete for government contracts.
However, a 2019 report found that almost 26 years after the Nunavut Agreement was signed, Inuit were still underrepresented in the territory’s government workforces, contrary to Article 23, which says that all three levels of government in Nunavut — federal, territorial and municipal — should have a workforce that reflects the population of Inuit in Nunavut.
According to a Nunavut government employee survey, the proportion of Inuit government employees had increased from 52 per cent in 2016 to 57 per cent in 2021. However, that number was still well short of reflecting the proportion of Inuit in Nunavut, which was roughly 80 per cent at that point.
In June 2022, the federal government announced what it called an “important step forward in building towards a representative public service in Nunavut” with the launch of a new cohort of the Inuit learning and development program, a job training program focused on building skills for government employment.
The program supports Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement, according to the federal government, which said eight Inuit Nunavut residents who participated in the 2021 cohort accepted full-time work with the government.
However, the training program is not new — it was first launched in 2013.
Meanwhile, in April 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami — the national organization representing Inuit in Canada — endorsed the Inuit Nunangat Policy, which recognizes the distinct culture of Inuit and their right to self-govern.
It also recognizes Inuit Nunangat — the Inuit homeland, which includes the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and urban places where Inuit live — as a distinct geographic, cultural and political region.
The goal of the policy, according to the federal government, is “socio-economic and cultural equity between Inuit and other Canadians.”
It also includes a commitment to “fair and equitable access to federal procurement activity in Inuit Nunangat,” which Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement calls for.
But for the most part, the policy contains only commitments that have not been implemented, particularly in regard to housing and the economic needs of Inuit.
16.2 Create laws and services to ensure the protection and revitalization of Inuit culture and language. All Inuit, including those living outside Inuit Nunangat, must have equitable access to culture and language programs. It is essential that elders are included in the development and delivery of these programs.
The Indigenous Languages Act, passed in 2019, is intended to support efforts to reclaim and strengthen Indigenous languages.
However, Inuit leaders slammed the act as inadequate, saying it excluded Inuit-specific content and was created without Inuit consultation.
In November 2022, the federal government promised almost $40 million in funding to support Indigenous language revitalization in the territories.
It was not clear, though, whether elders will be included in the development and delivery of the programs the funding will support.
16.3 All governments with jurisdiction in Inuit Nunangat must recognize Inuktut as the founding language, and it must be given official language status through language laws. Inuktut must be afforded the same recognition and protection and promotion as English and French within Inuit Nunangat, and all governments and agencies providing services to Inuit must ensure access to services in Inuktut.
Furthermore, all government and agency service providers must be culturally competent and educated in Inuit culture, laws, values and history.
While Inuktitut (one of the languages that makes up the broader Inuktut language group) is an official language of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, it is not an official language of Canada, despite repeated calls to make it one.
Critics say recognizing Inuktitut as one of Canada’s official languages is essential to ensuring schools receive guaranteed support and funding to teach in that language, and that essential services, including health care, are made available in the Inuit language.
With respect to the cultural competency call, there are some federal Indigenous learning programs available.
But they are not specific to Inuit culture and history, and not all government employees and agency service providers are required to be culturally competent and educated in those areas.
16.4 Given that the intergenerational transfer of Inuit knowledge, values, and language is a right that must be upheld, we call upon all governments to fund and support the recording of Inuit knowledge about culture, laws, values, spirituality and history prior to and since the start of colonization.
Further, this knowledge must be accessible and taught to all Inuit, by Inuit.
Libraries and Archives Canada offers funding to selected recipients through a program called Listen, Hear our Voices to contribute to a digitized collection of Indigenous history, culture and language.
The program is not Inuit specific, though, and most projects funded thus far are not specific to Inuit culture or history.
It is also not taught to all Inuit, by Inuit.
16.5 Given that reliable high-speed internet services and telecommunications are necessary for Inuit to access government services and to engage in the Canadian economic, cultural and political life, we call upon all governments with jurisdiction in Inuit Nunangat to invest in infrastructure to ensure all Inuit have access to high-speed internet.
In March 2023, Canada’s auditor general released a report that found access to internet services, particularly in remote or rural communities, is falling behind.
In April 2023, a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing on telecommunications in the North heard testimony about slow and spotty internet connections, prolonged outages, high prices and few options for service providers.
In August 2021, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami released a research brief on internet access that found broadband access in Inuit Nunangat “lags behind the rest of Canada as well as behind many other Arctic jurisdictions.” It also evaluated the infrastructure required to bridge the digital divide between Inuit Nunangat and the rest of Canada.
In May 2021, the federal government announced $6.9 million in federal funding for Northwestel and SSi Micro to bring high-speed internet to over 9,800 underserved households in all 25 communities of Nunavut.
And in April 2023, InukNet — a new Inuit-owned telecommunications company in Nunavut — said it plans to offer commercial services to all 25 communities in the territory, with “state-of-the-art internet service made possible by advances in satellite technology.”
Meanwhile, although satellite services have promised faster internet access for remote communities, some renters in Nunavut have said the territory’s largest landlords are obstructing access to that service.
Neither the Nunavut Housing Corporation, which manages more than 1,700 government staff housing units and nearly 5,700 public housing units, nor Northview, a major residential landlord in Nunavut, were allowing tenants to install Starlink satellite dishes without permission, a December 2022 CBC report said.
EPLS Group of Companies, which owns several properties in Rankin Inlet and Arviat in Nunavut, was also not allowing tenants to put up Starlink dishes at that point.
16.6 Ensure that population numbers for Inuit outside of the Inuit homeland are captured in a disaggregated manner, and that their rights as Inuit are upheld. These numbers are urgently needed to identify the growing, social, economic, political and cultural needs of urban Inuit.
In September 2022, Statistics Canada released census data that measured, in part, the migration of Inuit outside their homeland.
But while the data revealed that just under four-fifths of Inuit in Canada reported that they were enrolled under or were a beneficiary of an Inuit land claims agreement, the data also revealed that their rights as Inuit are not being upheld in areas like housing and child welfare.
The Statistics Canada census found that in 2021, about two-thirds of the 70,545 Inuit living in Canada lived in Inuit Nunangat.
But the census also revealed that the Inuit population living outside Inuit Nunangat grew at a faster pace (24 per cent) than the population within the Inuit homeland (three per cent).
The census data also said the housing crisis there had improved little over the past five years and, in some cases, had worsened. Almost a third of the nearly 49,000 Inuit in Inuit Nunangat were living in dwellings in need of major repairs, an increase of 1.2 per cent since 2016.
Overall, about 53 per cent of Inuit in Inuit Nunangat were living in crowded housing in 2021, a decrease of 1.2 per cent since five years prior.
The census also found that Indigenous children (including Inuit) were more likely to be in foster care than non-Indigenous children (3.2 per cent versus 0.2 per cent).
16.7 Ensure the availability of effective, culturally appropriate and accessible health and wellness services within each Inuit community. That includes Inuit midwives; community wellness, health and mental health services; and trauma and addictions treatment and healing options in each Inuit community.
In the summer of 2020, the government of Nunavut suspended birthing services in Rankin Inlet after the two Inuit midwives working in the region resigned six months apart, leaving Iqaluit’s medical centre as the only place available for non-emergency births in Nunavut. All others must happen outside the territory.
According to Pauktuutit — a national non-profit organization representing Inuit women in Canada — “Inuit women’s sexual and reproductive health is compromised by regulatory limitations that are neither trauma-informed nor culturally appropriate for Inuit.”
Pauktuutit advocates for the integration of Inuit midwifery in health-care services and for the establishment of midwifery education programs in communities across Inuit Nunangat.
Also, most Inuit communities do not have Inuit-led and operated mental health and/or addictions treatment options — although the 2019 federal budget committed funding for a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility in Nunavut. That centre is not expected to open until 2025, however. Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer or early autumn 2023, according to a federal government spokesperson.
Currently, there are no such facilities in neither Nunavut or the Northwest Territories. Most seeking treatment need to travel to the Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa, the closest Inuit-specific treatment centre.
Meanwhile, the Mental Health Commission of Canada offers Mental Health First Aid — Inuit, a course designed by Inuit, for Inuit and those who work with Inuit.
16.8 Invest in the recruitment and capacity building of Inuit within the medical, health and wellness service fields, with training and competency in both contemporary and Inuit medical, health and wellness practices.
There are few programs that focus on recruiting and training Inuit community members in the fields of medical, health and wellness services.
In May 2022, the University of Ottawa’s medical school announced a partnership with the government of Nunavut to reserve two spots specifically for Nunavummiut in its program, beginning in September 2023.
But it will not offer Inuit medical, health and wellness practices.
Meanwhile, the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Mental Health First Aid — Inuit, while designed by Inuit, is not mandatory. It is also only a nine-hour course, and it is not specifically designed to increase Inuit representation in the health-care field.
Currently, there is just one Inuktitut-language counsellor-training and mentorship program in Nunavut, blending Inuit and southern healing methods. It is run through Ilisaqsivik, a non-profit, Inuit-led organization for residents of Nunavut.
Meanwhile, Tungasuvvingat Inuit — an Inuit-specific not-for-profit Ontario service provider that offers employment and education assistance, among other services — has a two-year training and work experience program intended to increase Inuit representation in the social services workforce.
However, the training program requires participation either in-person in Ottawa or online — which would require internet access that is not readily available or reliable in many Northern communities.
16.9 Establish and resource an Inuit healing and wellness fund to support grassroots and community-led programs. This fund must be permanently resourced, administered by Inuit and independent from government.
In November 2022, the federal government announced $7 million in funding for construction of an Inuit-led community health and wellness hub in Iqaluit.
However, this is not ongoing healing and wellness funding.
16.10 Develop policies and programs to include Inuit-led healing and health programs within educational systems to provide resources to teach Inuit children Inuit-appropriate socio-emotional coping skills, pride and capacity.
The federal and some provincial governments do support some Indigenous cultural and language programs for children — which are designed, in part, to teach pride. But the funding is limited in terms of programming, and most of the programs are not Inuit-specific.
16.11 Given that healing occurs through the expression of art and culture, governments within Inuit Nunangat must invest in Inuit artistic expression in all its forms through the establishment of infrastructure and by ensuring sustainable funds are available and accessible for Inuit artists.
In June 2022, the Inuit Art Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts announced a new national, Inuit-specific funding pilot program — but the funding is limited and not yet sustained, and artists must apply for it.
The Canada Council is funding the foundation as it works with communities throughout Inuit Nunangat and the south to co-develop a multidisciplinary granting program that will distribute over $100,000 in its first year.
Applications for funding closed in March 2023 and the funding, at this point, is for just one year.
16.12 Ensure that Inuit men and boys are provided services that are gender- and Inuit-specific to address historic and ongoing trauma they are experiencing.
Programming for men and boys that is available to address trauma is often limited in resourcing, or is not Inuit-specific or Inuit-led.
In August 2021, the government of Nunavut and the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre announced plans to create a healing and wellness program by and for Inuit men, to be delivered in each community in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region.
To get it started, the friendship centre hosted a five-day training session to help determine what the program would include.
But the programming is not accessible to Inuit men throughout Nunavut, nor is it available to boys.
16.13 Implement the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy with Inuit nationally and regionally, through Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
The National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy was launched in 2016, identifying specific objectives and actions to prevent suicide in six priority areas, such as creating social equity and ensuring access to a continuum of mental wellness services for Inuit.
In October 2022, the federal government and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami announced a further $11 million in funding to support the strategy.
But that funding was a continuation of funds previously announced in the 2019 federal budget, which promised $50 million over 10 years and $5 million per year following.
It is also unclear if the strategy has been successful.
16.14 Review and amend laws in relation to child and family services to ensure they uphold the rights of Inuit children and families and conform to Inuit laws and values. Inuit parents and guardians must be provided access to Inuit-specific parenting and care-giving teachings and services.
Bill C-92 — An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families — was passed in 2019. The legislation cedes jurisdiction over Indigenous child welfare from other levels of government to Indigenous peoples so that they can care for their children in a culturally appropriate way.
However, Quebec has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing the legislation infringes upon provincial jurisdiction. Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories have joined the challenge as interveners, also arguing it infringes on their jurisdictional rights.
Meanwhile, in April 2022, Yukon lawmakers unanimously approved legislation that officials said will better protect First Nations children taken into care.
Bill 11 includes several amendments to the territory’s Child and Family Services Act, including a requirement that when a child is the subject of a “protective intervention,” the child’s First Nation be notified, along with their parents’ First Nation and associated Indigenous governing bodies.
The First Nations and governing bodies then have the right to be involved in case planning and court proceedings related to the child, and must also give consent to a child in care being adopted.
16.15 In light of the multi-jurisdictional nature of child and family services as they currently operate for Inuit in Canada, we call upon the federal government, in partnership with Inuit, to establish and fund an Inuit child and youth advocate with jurisdiction over all Inuit children in care.
While most provinces and territories have a child and youth advocate or ombudsman, as of June 2023, most have not created specialized units for Indigenous children and youth.
As well, the federal government has not established an Inuit or national child and youth commissioner — despite repeated calls to create such a role.
16.16 Enumerate and report on the number of Inuit children in care. This data must be disaggregated and the reports must be shared with Inuit organizations and Inuit child and youth advocates.
While Statistics Canada tracks the number of Indigenous children in foster care, it does not specifically enumerate or report on the number of Inuit children in care.
Statistics Canada’s most current data regarding children in care, released in September 2022, says 54 per cent of all children in foster care were Indigenous — up slightly from the 2016 census, at which point 52 per cent of children in care under age 14 were Indigenous.
But it does not distinguish between First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
16.17 Prioritize supporting Inuit families and communities to meet the needs of Inuit children, recognizing that apprehension must occur only when absolutely required to protect a child. Placement of Inuit children with extended family and in Inuit homes must be prioritized and resourced. Placement outside of their communities and outside their homelands must be restricted.
Some governments have expressed a commitment to restrict the placement of Inuit children in care outside their communities and homeland, but that practice still happens.
In 2019, the federal government passed Bill C-92, which gives Indigenous communities — including Inuit — the right to manage their own child and family services.
Following that, in November 2021, new legislation was signed by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation — which represents the interests of western Arctic Inuit in the Northwest Territories — to help keep Inuvialuit youth in child and family services in their home communities.
However, Bill C-92 is being challenged in a Supreme Court of Canada case by Quebec, which argues sections of it infringe on provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The Northwest Territories has joined Quebec in that challenge.
Meanwhile, in January 2022, the federal government and First Nations leaders announced a $40-billion agreement-in-principle to compensate young people harmed by Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system and reform the First Nations child welfare system.
The agreement included a commitment to fund the National Assembly of Remote Communities to develop a model “to estimate the increased costs associated with remoteness and in relation to providing child and family services in remote communities across the country.”
However, the compensation under that agreement did not apply to First Nations children and families in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, because child and family services in those territories are not funded through the First Nations Child and Family Services Program — the specific federal program at issue in the complaint that eventually led to the settlement.
And in October 2022, the Ontario-based Inuit service provider Tungasuvvingat Inuit, in collaboration with Ottawa-based Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families and the Inuit community in Ontario, announced development of an Inuit-specific foster-care program, which would include kinship care (meaning care by family members).
The Sapujjijuit program aims to increase the number of Inuit family and community placements for Inuit children and youth who are unable to remain safely at home. The program’s website says there were plans to launch and test an Inuit-specific caregiver assessment and training program in the winter of 2023.
16.18 Respect the rights of Inuit children and people in care, including those who are placed in care outside of their Inuit homelands. Immediately invest in safe, affordable and culturally appropriate housing within Inuit communities and for Inuit outside of their homelands, given the links between the housing crisis and violence, poor health (including tuberculosis) and suicide. Immediate and directed measures are required to end the crisis.
In addition to the initiatives noted above on children in care, there have been funding commitments regarding what has been deemed a housing crisis in Inuit Nunangat.
In March 2022, a member of Parliament referred to Nunavut’s housing crisis as a “colossal humanitarian failure,” after a federal government committee was told about issues with environmental damage, like erosion and mould, and overcrowding in public housing in the Northwest Territories.
Also, in 2022, Statistics Canada data indicated there had been little improvement in the housing crisis in Inuit Nunangat over the preceding five years, and in some cases, the situation had worsened.
Data from the 2021 census showed almost a third of the nearly 49,000 Inuit in Inuit Nunangat were living in dwellings in need of major repairs, an increase of 1.2 per cent since 2016. About 53 per cent of Inuit in Inuit Nunangat were living in crowded housing in 2021, a decrease of 1.2 per cent from 2016.
In December 2022, the latest annual report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation found that “poor conditions around affordability, adequacy, and suitability persist across all major centres” in the territories.
The 2022 federal budget included $845 million for housing across Inuit Nunangat over seven years.
That led to a November 2022 announcement of more than $23 million of joint funding to create 63 units of affordable rental housing for at-risk individuals in Yellowknife.
However, in December 2022, federal housing advocate Marie-Josée Houle said “the current levels of federal investments are not adequate to remedy the human rights violations caused by the housing shortage” facing Inuit communities.
16.19 Develop and fund safe houses, shelters, transition houses and second-stage housing for Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people fleeing violence. These houses and shelters are required in all Inuit communities and in urban centres with large Inuit populations. Shelters must not require full occupancy to remain open and to receive funding.
As of June 2023, most Inuit communities do not have a safe or second-stage shelter, although the federal government has committed funds to build some.
According to Pauktuutit, the national non-profit organization representing Inuit women in Canada, more than 70 per cent of Inuit communities across the Arctic do not have a safe shelter for women and children experiencing family violence.
What’s more, there is no second-stage housing available.
In May 2023, the federal government announced $103 million in funding to build and support at least 178 shelter spaces and transitional houses across Canada for Indigenous women, children and 2SLGBTQ people fleeing gender-based violence. Funding was included for 22 projects in 21 communities across the country, including in the North.
Sen. Michèle Audette, a former commissioner for the MMIWG inquiry, told CBC the money is a step toward fulfilling the inquiry’s recommendations, but said “for me, it is an ongoing call for justice.”
In November 2022, the federal government committed $2.7 million to convert three existing properties into new transitional housing buildings for vulnerable Inuit women and children in Iqaluit.
But the announcement came months after critics said that prior financial commitments to create women’s shelters were never realized.
In January 2021, the federal government committed funding for shelters for Inuit women and children in response to Pauktuutit’s previous request for the construction of five new emergency shelters — one in each of the four regions of Inuit Nunangat and one in Ottawa, which has the largest population of urban Inuit in Canada.
That funding commitment was part of the federal government’s $724 million violence prevention strategy, first announced in 2020. But as of 2023, much of that funding has not been spent.
In December 2022, the federal and territorial governments announced up to $972,000 in funding for Tahiuqtiit Women’s Society in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., which said it would use the funds to work toward creating a family shelter, and Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre in Iqaluit, which had previously discussed intentions to build a community wellness hub in the city.
And in February 2023, the Council of Yukon First Nations said it is planning to build a new 15-unit/32-bed shelter in Whitehorse specifically for Indigenous women and children. The project has $9.28 million in capital funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and will get $1.22 million in annual operating costs from Indigenous Services Canada.
16.20 Support the establishment of programs and services designed to financially support and promote Inuit hunting and harvesting in all Inuit communities. All governments with jurisdiction in Inuit Nunangat must immediately increase minimum wage rates and increase social assistance rates to meet the needs of Inuit and to match the higher cost of living in Inuit communities. A guaranteed annual livable income model, recognizing the right to income security, must be developed and implemented.
An April 2022 report by the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre on food insecurity in the North determined that while Inuit organizations continue to call for hunting to be recognized as a paid profession, that work continues to go largely unpaid.
The same report repeated the centre’s call for a basic guaranteed income.
In July 2020, the federal government announced grants to support community hunting programs in Indigenous communities, including Inuit communities. In Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik, which has a community hunting program, was allocated nearly $14.9 million over five years.
But funding through that program has to be applied for, on a yearly basis, and it is not available to all Inuit communities.
Regarding minimum wage, the Yukon government raised its minimum wage in April 2023, from $15.70 to $16.77 — currently the highest minimum wage in Canada.
In April 2020, Nunavut raised its wage from $13 per hour to $16. However, the wage has remained flat since then.
Minimum wage in the Northwest Territories has been $15.20 since 2021. An April 2022 report from the non-profit Alternatives North determined that is well below a livable standard in the territory’s largest communities.
However, the territory says starting in September 2023, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually using a formula based on the percentage change in the consumer price index for Yellowknife and the percentage change in the average hourly wage in the Northwest Territories for the preceding calendar year.
16.21 Ensure equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities and outcomes from early childhood education to post-secondary education within Inuit communities. Further, all governments must invest in providing Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people with accessible and equitable economic opportunities.
Access to high-quality education is not equitably available within all Inuit communities, nor are equitable economic opportunities.
According to the non-profit Pauktuutit, nearly 60 per cent of Inuit in the Arctic region have less than a high school education.
Inuit youth also lack equal access to post-secondary education and the necessary supports to get them there, Pauktuutit says. Most must leave their communities to pursue an education elsewhere.
The federal government’s 2019 budget committed almost $126 million over 10 years and about $22 million ongoing for the Inuit post-secondary education strategy, which aims to “close the post-secondary education attainment gap between Inuit students and non-Indigenous students in Canada through distinctions-based and regionally delivery strategic support.”
But the funding is not equitably accessible. Only designated organizations are eligible to apply for funds. They then determine the mechanisms to distribute the funding. What’s more, funding is not necessarily sustainable and only offered on a yearly basis.
16.22 Fund programs for Inuit children and youth to learn about developing interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, Inuit children and youth must be taught how to identify violence through the provision of age-appropriate educational programs like the Good Touch/Bad Touch program offered in Nunavik.
The Good Touch/Bad Touch program, which teaches children how to talk about abuse and personal body-safety rules, is now offered in Nunavut, and in the Inuktitut language.
But not all governments are funding and supporting culturally and age-appropriate programs for Inuit children and youth to learn about developing interpersonal relationships.
There are some programs available, but they’re neither universally accessible nor offered equitably throughout the territories.
Meanwhile, there are some educational toolkits available to help educators teach children about violence. But they are also not equitably offered or fully accessible.
For example, the non-profit Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre in Iqaluit offers the Inunnguiniq program — a parenting program based on Inuit child-rearing principles.
However, it is not accessible across the territories. As of June 2023, it was only offered as a drop-in program in some Nunavut communities and two high schools, according to the program’s website.
16.23 Work with Inuit to provide public awareness and education to combat the normalization of domestic violence and sexualized violence against Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people; to educate men and boys about the unacceptability of violence against Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people; and to raise awareness and education about the human rights and Indigenous rights of Inuit.
The federal and Nunavut governments have funded research that identified a need for this programming, but as of June 2023, not all governments have provided equitable and accessible programming and/or education.
A 2020 report by the non-profit Pauktuutit recommended that governments enhance community education about domestic and gender-based violence.
The report, which was funded in part by the federal government, said that women in Nunavut are the victims of violent crime at a rate more than 13 times higher than that for women in Canada as a whole, and that women in Nunavut have a risk of being sexually assaulted that is 12 times greater than the provincial/territorial average.
One of the report’s key recommendations for governments was to improve gender-based violence prevention and education efforts, which it said “could be accomplished through the police leading specialized workshops, campaigns, and programs focusing on encouraging victims to report abuse.”
Regarding education and programming for Inuit men and boys, a December 2022 research study on suicide among young Inuit men and boys pointed to a “lack of gender-specific services for boys and young men.”
“The impact that the absence of services has on men’s suicidality could be severe,” said the authors of the study, which was funded by the Nunavik Health and Regional Board.
Also, in March 2021, the Law Society of Nunavut and Pauktuutit launched a public campaign to help raise awareness of different forms of abuse and where to get help, including legal, social and health options for those experiencing family violence. It was created with Inuit input from the ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre.
However, the campaign was neither long-term nor sustained. It was funded for one year as a stand-alone project.
16.24 Support programs for Inuit children and youth to teach them how to respond to threats and identify exploitation. This awareness and education work must be culturally and age-appropriate and involve all members of the community, including 2SLGBTQQIA Inuit.
The previously mentioned Good Touch/Bad Touch program is age- and culturally appropriate, and has been adapted specifically for Nunavik by a committee involving Inuit and non-Inuit from several different organizations.
There are other educational toolkits and programs available for educators and children, but they are not mandatory curriculum for all educational service providers. Most are not specifically designed for Inuit, nor do they explicitly involve all members of the community.
For example, BRAVE Education, a national organization, has developed age-appropriate curriculum for educators, primarily for youth ages eight to 18 years old, on the issue of grooming for exploitation. But it is not specific to Inuit children and youth, nor is it equitably accessible, particularly where internet access is limited. It is also not mandatory.
Regarding services related to sexual trafficking awareness, in May 2019, the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking — a national, non-profit advocacy organization — launched the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, which connects victims and survivors of human trafficking with law enforcement, emergency shelters, transition housing, long-term supports and counsellors. It offers support in 200 languages, including 27 Indigenous languages. The hotline was funded in part by the federal government, which pledged $14.5 million over five years to get the project off the ground.
In September 2019, the federal government announced the launch of a new national strategy to combat human trafficking. However, as of June 2023, most of the initiatives laid out in the new strategy have not been completed or implemented.
16.25 We call upon all educators to ensure that the education system, from early childhood to post-secondary, reflects Inuit culture, language and history. The impacts and history of colonialism and its legacy and effects must also be taught.
Most educators must now include a curriculum about the history of Indigenous Peoples, including wrongs committed against them, but they do not necessarily specifically reflect Inuit culture, language and history.
Following a January 2022 referendum, Yukon established a First Nations School Board, under which Yukon First Nations share authority over education with the Yukon government. Board-run schools will tailor programming to emphasize on-the-land education and experiential learning, a renewed focus on Indigenous languages, and bringing elders into the classroom.
The school board was close to 50 years in the making — the idea was initially proposed in a 1973 document by 12 Yukon leaders presented to then prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
But in Nunavut, amendments to legislation that was supposed to guarantee education in Inuit languages have led to a court battle that is still ongoing as of June 2023.
In November 2020, Nunavut amended its original Education Act, which had guaranteed bilingual education in Inuktut and English at all grade levels by the 2019-20 school year.
Under the amendments, Inuktut — the umbrella term for Inuit languages — will be phased in as a language of instruction over a 20-year period, meaning it would take until 2039 for all students to have Inuktut taught as a first language.
In October 2021, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. filed a lawsuit claiming that the government of Nunavut’s failure to implement Inuktut language schooling amounts to a violation of the right to equality for Nunavut Inuit.
The government tried to have the court dismiss the lawsuit, but a judge denied that request in March 2023. The territory has appealed that decision.
16.26 Establish more post-secondary options within Inuit Nunangat to build capacity and engagement in Inuit self-determination in research and academia. Invest in the establishment of an accredited university within Inuit Nunangat.
While there are some federal commitments to increase post-secondary options within the Inuit homeland, including the establishment of a northern university, those commitments have not materialized into action as of June 2023.
A 2022 federally funded report determined that the “northern K-12 system as a whole is failing to deliver students ready for post-secondary education.”
The system was not properly preparing them for post-secondary success, “allowing students to graduate while still lacking basic literacy, numeracy, social and other academic skills,” according to the report, which was produced by a task force launched in 2020 to examine the state of post-secondary education in the North.
The report noted a range of issues, including the need for better recognition and incorporation of the cultures, languages and learning styles of Indigenous students.
Meanwhile, the federal government’s 2021 budget committed $8 million to help Aurora College in the Northwest Territories transition into a polytechnic university — a change expected to be completed by 2026. The college has previously committed to incorporating Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge into its teaching and research.
In June 2021, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami announced a partnership with Mastercard Foundation to work on a long-planned project to create a university in northern Canada. The creation of a university in Inuit Nunangat was among the recommendations in a 2011 Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami report on Inuit education.
16.27 Ensure ongoing and comprehensive Inuit-specific cultural competency training for public servants in all areas of service delivery, including but not limited to policing, the criminal justice system, education, health and social services.
The federal government, through the Canada School of Public Service, offers its employees a variety of Indigenous cultural awareness and sensitivity programs. But it is not mandatory and participation is low.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said in October 2022 it was working with CSPS to develop mandatory training for public servants.
16.28 Given that the failure to invest in resources required for treatment and rehabilitation has resulted in the failure of Section 718 of the Criminal Code and the Gladue principles to meet their intended objectives, we call upon all governments to invest in Inuit-specific treatment and rehabilitation services to address the root causes of violent behaviour.
This must include, but is not limited to, culturally appropriate and accessible mental health services, trauma and addictions services, and access to culture and language for Inuit.
Section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code is a direction “to use restraint in respect to imprisonment” and use alternatives whenever “reasonable in the circumstances” in sentencing an offender.
Gladue principles, meanwhile, say judges must consider the unique circumstances of Indigenous offenders before they are sentenced.
Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories all have courts that reflect a version of Gladue courts — specialized courts for Indigenous matters.
But none have expanded or strengthened their services since the MMIWG report.
As well, none of those courts indicated they offer any formal training for their judges regarding Gladue principles or the history and culture of Indigenous people, according to a 2013 federal government report.
In 2022, a Carleton University student’s master’s thesis examining the status of Gladue principles determined that not only have national standards not been created, but that not enough research has been done to determine how best to implement them.
As of November 2022, the Northwest Territories was continuing to review how best to implement them.