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