There’s a crisis of child sexual abuse in the territory and the government isn’t doing enough to stop it, says Adam Lightstone, MLA for Iqaluit-Manirajak.
“In my opinion, the Government of Nunavut’s failure to raise its concern over the high rates of child sexual abuse is guilty by association of allowing the victimization of children to continue,” Lightstone said in the legislative assembly on Thursday, adding that Nunavut’s rates are highest per capita in Canada, if not the world. “I do not understand why our government has yet to publicly recognize child abuse in this assembly.”
Lightstone said he was recently informed by the Justice department that there are more than 600 registered sex offenders in Nunavut, a sharp rise from 500 when he inquired last year.
Premier Joe Savikataaq said the departments of Family Services and Justice work closely with the RCMP on this issue, but the problem persists.
“I’m not sure what the solution is. We know it’s there and we’re doing our best to deal with it,” said Savikataaq. “I don’t have an answer for the member in terms of exactly what to do to stop it… there should be no child sexual abuse in Nunavut. There shouldn’t be. It’s unacceptable, but sadly it’s a fact that there is.”
Lightstone said it’s going to take “every organization, every department, every individual, and every community to band together to say enough is enough.” He asked the premier if he considers child sexual abuse in Nunavut to be a crisis.
Savikataaq replied that crisis can be interpreted in different ways. He referred to the situation as a problem.
“All I can say is that we’re working on it,” Savikataaq said. “Sometimes when you read in the media that such-and-such a guy got a sentence of this and you look at it at times and say, “Well, was that sentence fitting or not?” That’s beyond our capability here, but as a government, and I’m sure I can speak on behalf of all of us as MLAs here, that child sexual abuse is absolutely unacceptable and should not be acceptable to anyone anywhere.”