Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) has signed an agreement with Family and Children Services of Renfrew County on providing culturally specific supports for Ontario Inuit families involved with child protective services on April 8.

The Ottawa-based not-for-profit offers Inuit-specific social supports, assistance, counselling among other services. It has also been designated by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami as a service agency when dealing with child protective services.

“This agreement is the result of a lot of hard work on the part of staff from both organizations,” said Amanda Kilabuk, executive director of Tungasuvvingat Inuit.

“This protocol agreement sets structure to how child welfare agencies work with Inuit in Ontario and provides recourse for issues and disagreements. It is a critical first step in acknowledging and addressing the harms that the child welfare system has inflicted, and continues to inflict, upon Inuit families in Ontario.”

This further builds on past work TI has done with Renfrew and the Ontario government, said Tauni Sheldon, case manager and cultural advisor for TI’s Kamatsiarniq Program, which was created in 2020 to help Inuit families react when Ontario child welfare services show up.

“With the affects of the histories of child welfare that so many have endured, this first of its kind protocol agreement between TI and the Family and Children’s Services of Renfrew County is groundbreaking.”

“By TI and the child welfare agencies coming together in partnerships, this becomes rooted in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit as well as the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) 94 Calls to Action,” Sheldon added.

The new protocol will allow Kamatsiarniq to commit to working with children protection agencies in ensuring Inuit families are treated as a distinct Indigenous group in Ontario.

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