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February 9, 2024
Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) is very pleased with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to uphold the federal Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.
This decision confirms the legal framework in the Act through which provinces and territories are bound by laws IRC creates. This is an affirmation that IRC can exercise its inherent jurisdiction and pass laws in relation to child and family services. Both the federal government and provincial and territorial governments are bound by the Act’s legislative recognition of this.
This decision is a major win for Indigenous self-determination in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized Indigenous government’s inherent right to make laws for their people. For Inuvialuit, it reaffirms what we already knew: that Indigenous communities should be the ones who decide how their children are cared for.
IRC intervened at the Supreme Court on this case, given its importance to Inuvialuit and the special situation of the territories.
In November 2021, the IRC Board passed Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat, the Inuvialuit Family Way of Living Law.
Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat has four principles:
a) To ensure cultural continuity for each Inuvialuit child and youth, which is essential to wellbeing, and which includes serving each child and youth in their home community to the greatest extent possible;
b) To enhance the supports available to enable Inuvialuit families to thrive, reducing the need for intervention;
c) To improve information sharing for fully informed service provision, advocacy, and decision-making; and
d) To grow the exercise of Inuvialuit jurisdiction in child and family services at our own pace, in our own way.
Since then, IRC has been in discussions with the governments of Canada, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon on coordinating services. IRC is also working to provide more supports to Inuvialuit involved in the Child Welfare system wherever they may be.
IRC will work with all Governments to ensure this decision is respected. While there is much work still to do, this is a major victory for Inuvialuit and Indigenous communities in Canada.
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photo: IRC Chair and CEO Duane Ningaqsiq Smith reviewing a summary of the historic Supreme Court decision with counsel
For questions regarding the Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat, please visit https://irc.inuvialuit.com/childwellbeing.
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