Inuvialuit Regional Corpoation's Board at the time of the bill's signing, with Chair and CEO, Duane Smith, in centre. Submitted by the IRC.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has begun a letter writing campaign calling on the Northwest Territories government to drop out of a court challenge of a federal law on Indigenous-led child and family services.
The territory joined the legal challenge of Bill C-92, launched by Quebec in the Supreme Court of Canada, as an intervenor last year alongside Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba. That bill allows Indigenous governments and organizations to develop their own child and family services laws with the aim of reducing the number of Indigenous children in care.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation became the first to do so in the NWT in late 2021. It has been in talks with the territorial and federal governments to implement its law, called Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat, for more than a year.
The corporation also joined dozens of Indigenous governments and organizations in backing Canada’s defence of Bill C-92 in the supreme court.
In its new campaign, called Children in Our Care, the corporation says the territory is “standing in the way” of a coordination agreement, preventing it from unlocking federal funding and delaying implementation of its child welfare law. It claims everyday the territory does not sign the agreement, the corporation loses $131,000 in funding.
“Inuvialuit children continue to be taken away from their families, homes and communities, denied their culture and most basic rights,” Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, chair and chief executive officer of the corporation, said in a statement.
“To date, the GNWT has used every stall tactic at their disposal to delay the implementation of the Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat, also known as the Inuvialuit Family Way of Living Law, and Inuvialuit children and families are paying the price.”
In December last year, the premier and NWT’s justice minister defended the decision to join the court challenge, saying they want to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the territorial and Indigenous governments.