This week, the Native Women’s Shelter is asking the Quebec Human Rights Commission to launch an inquiry into systemic racism in employment at Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre. Indigenous children represent 52.5% of the children within the foster care system. Yet Indigenous children make up only 7% of the youth population in Canada – identifying how Indigenous children are greatly overrepresented within this system.
Montreal does not have statistics of Indigenous youth within the local foster care system, but multiple reports have identified that Inuit children are being failed within this system. There have been specific failures highlighted by the media and individuals at Batshaw Youth and Family Services, a foster care centre located in Westmount. An episode of Local 514 released this summer highlighted the issues at Batshaw, not only how children and families are affected by the foster care system in Montreal and the treatment of Indigenous children at Batshaw specifically, but also how Batshaw has closed the door on communication with the Native Women’s Shelter.
The Native Women’s Shelter once had a collaboration agreement with Batshaw. It was signed in 2013 to improve services Indigenous children and families received from Batshaw Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter, said this collaboration ended when Batshaw merged with the CIUSSS.
In an episode of Local 514 released this summer, Nakuset has highlighted that the Women’s shelter has tried to continue work and communication with Batshaw, but she says Batshaw has shut her out. As a result of multiple reports in the last years highlighting mistreatment of Indigenous children and systemic racism within employment and services, this week Nakuset announced the Native Women’s Shelter is asking the Quebec Human Rights Commission to launch an inquiry into systemic racism in employment at Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre.
CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal responded to Local 514’s media request after the broadcast, stating: “We regret that Nakuset has chosen to withdraw from our Indigenous Needs Awareness Committee. The door will always remain open to her return as we continue to work with other community partners. We currently have two positions open for Indigenous liaison officers and are working in close collaboration with our partners from Indigenous communities for recruitment. These openings have been posted for several months but have yet to be filled due to a shortage of candidates. These postings were developed in conjunction with our partners and were distributed through their respective networks in an effort to maximize our hiring opportunities. We are pleased to be able to count on the support of Makivik Corporation in this regard. Rest assured that if the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse chooses to launch an investigation, they can count on our full cooperation. Our continuous improvement approach to cultural safety is deeply entrenched throughout the organization, both at the ground level and among our executive management. This issue is at the heart of our concerns. Cultural safety and diversity, along with inclusion, are guiding principles for our teams and are an integral part of every decision we make. The CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal is committed to providing care and services adapted to meet Indigenous needs, to ensuring such care and services is provided in an environment where Indigenous youth feel safe in every way, and to increasing Indigenous representation within our organization.”