February 9th, 2024 – Kuujjuaq, Quebec – In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the federal Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families (often referred to as C-92), marking a significant victory for Nunavik Inuit.
Reacting to the decision, Pita Aatami, President of Makivvik stated, “This decision represents a major victory for Inuit and the well-being of our families, children, and youth. The decision reflects what we have always said and known, which is that we have an inherent right to self-determination, especially as it concerns child and family services. Today’s ruling reinforces the importance of implementing Indigenous rights and respecting our jurisdictions.”
The ruling upheld Canada’s affirmation of the Indigenous right of self-government over youth protection and the framework for implementing Indigenous child and family laws. It also validated the application of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and highlighted the rights of Indigenous peoples over their children. Further, it determined that the national standards set out in C-92, such as keeping children connected with their culture, apply throughout Canada. This decision is a significant step towards ensuring the well-being of Inuit families and communities, and continuity of Inuit culture.
C-92, which came into force in 2020, was designed to address the crisis in youth protection for Inuit, First Nations, and Métis peoples. The Act contains three main elements: (1) an affirmation of the Indigenous inherent right of self-government in relation to child and family services, (2) a framework to implement the legislative authority of Indigenous Peoples over child and family services and give it priority over provincial and territorial laws, and (3) national standards for the provision of child and family services to Indigenous peoples.
President Aatami further emphasized, “Inuit have long upheld a tradition of responsibility and care for our children and youth within our extended families and communities. Today’s ruling will not only impact youth protection law as it applies in Nunavik but reaffirms every aspect of Inuit jurisdiction and our right to self-determination. Our right to raise our children within our language, culture, heritage, communities and land in accordance with our laws is a pivotal moment in our ongoing journey towards self-governance.”
While there are positive aspects of today’s decision, Nunavik Inuit still face many challenges, including the lack of culturally relevant youth protection services as well as little access to basic services and opportunities within Nunavik. Makivvik will now work to fully implement today’s decision with the aim of improving the lives of Nunavik Inuit children and families. Makivvik remains committed to continuing self-determination negotiations with Quebec and Canada and to advocating for the rights and well-being of Nunavik Inuit.
Director of Communications
Makivvik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivvik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivvik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.