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Review of Inuit children in care finds N.L. system lacking in cultural respect

Jackie Lake Kavanagh, Newfoundland and Labrador's child and youth advocate shown in a handout photo, published a report Wednesday on Inuit children in the province's care. She called for greater respect and involvement of Inuit communities in caring for children in the system. .
Jackie Lake Kavanagh, Newfoundland and Labrador's child and youth advocate shown in a handout photo, published a report Wednesday on Inuit children in the province's care. She called for greater respect and involvement of Inuit communities in caring for children in the system. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Office of the Child and Youth Advocate

An independent review of Inuit children in Newfoundland and Labrador’s child protection system says the current system is “crisis-oriented” and lacks respectful involvement of Inuit families and culture.

Jackie Lake Kavanagh’s report, A Long Wait for Change, was released on Wednesday. It reviews case files and literature on Indigenous children in care and features interviews with people affected by the system.

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The report found “pervasive” mistrust and fear among Inuit people towards child protection authorities and reported that separation of children from families resulted in a disconnect from culture, making transitions home more difficult.

Lake Kavanagh says there is untapped potential for community-based care. She recommends the province actively recruit care workers in Inuit communities and focus on crisis prevention rather than reaction to better keep families together.

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She also recommends the provincial Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development complete its own audit on out-of-community placements.

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The study was launched in 2018 at the request of the Nunatsiavut Inuit government in Labrador following concerns over the number of Inuit children being placed outside their communities.

As of December 2018, about 30 per cent of the province’s 1,005 children in care were Indigenous, and 150 of those children were Inuit. Of those children, 65 resided in homes on the island of Newfoundland and 85 in Labrador.