N.L., Innu agree to in­quiry into treat­ment of Innu chil­dren

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

The New­found­land and Labrador govern­ment and Innu lead­ers have agreed to an in­quiry into the Innu ex­pe­ri­ence in the prov­ince’s child pro­tec­tion sys­tem.

The move fol­lows the death of Thun­der­heart Tshakapesh, the 16-year-old son of Simeon Tshakapesh, the deputy grand chief of the Innu Na­tion. He took his own life in May after be­ing treated out­side the prov­ince for sol­vent abuse.

Simeon Tshakapesh was among Innu lead­ers who signed an agree­ment with Premier Dwight Ball after a meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

They agreed to come up with terms of ref­er­ence and in­quiry lead­er­ship by July 31, 2017.

The in­quiry will look at “the treat­ment, ex­pe­ri­ences and out­comes of Innu in the child pro­tec­tion sys­tem, and to iden­tify rec­om­men­da­tions for change,” ac­cord­ing to the me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing.

The pro­vin­cial and Innu lead­ers said they will ask the fed­eral govern­ment to par­tic­i­pate, with the hope that the in­quiry will be­gin by Sept. 30, 2017.

On Canada Day, Tshakapesh and other Innu lead­ers con­fronted fed­eral Indige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett at an event in Toronto.

A CBC video shows a tear­ful Tshakapesh shout­ing at Ben­nett, ask­ing her to change a sys­tem that sees Innu chil­dren rou­tinely re­moved from their com­mu­ni­ties for treat­ment.

“We are go­ing to change it,” she told Tshakapesh. “It’s un­ac­cept­able.”

In an in­ter­view last month, Tshakapesh said he wanted fund­ing for a mul­ti­cul­tural youth treat­ment cen­tre to be built in cen­tral Labrador.

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