Quebec youth care agency not serious about fighting racism: Indigenous advocate

MONTREAL-An advocate for Indigenous people says a Montreal-based child and family services agency isn’t serious about improving care for Indigenous youth.

Nakuset, director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, says that while Batshaw Youth and Family Centres has received advice and recommendations from Indigenous communities and the province’s human rights commission, the agency isn’t implementing them.

Her comments are in reaction to an incident in April that was first reported by CBC News, in which an Inuk teenager at a Batshaw rehabilitation centre north of Montreal was allegedly put in isolation despite being in pain and needing emergency surgery.

Nakuset, who uses one name, says that while Quebec’s human and youth rights commission has opened an investigation, the watchdog shouldn’t have waited until after the incident received media attention.

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, a Montreal-based civil rights organization, says he doesn’t think the province or the watchdog is serious about addressing issues at Batshaw.

The watchdog made recommendations to Batshaw after an investigation found that Inuit youth in care were not allowed to speak their own language at timesm but Niemi says the watchdog has admitted to not verifying whether they were implemented.

The health authority that oversees Batshaw said Thursday it has taken action to protect the “cultural security” of the youth under its protection, including by hiring Indigenous staff and rewriting policies to affirm young people’s rights to speak Indigenous languages.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2022.



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