Missing Indigenous children: a second report since the Law’s enacting
QUÉBEC, April 20, 2023 – Today at the National Assembly, the Minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and the Inuit, Mr. Ian Lafrenière, tabled the second annual report on the application of the Act to authorize the communication of personal information to the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution. This second report presents an assessment of the Act’s enactment for the period between March 1st, 2022 and February 28th, 2023. The Minister, accompanied by colleagues from the opposition parties, will also visit Manawan on April 21 to present it in the presence of the families and take stock of the progress achieved since the submission of the preceding report.
The Act, which began to take effect on September 1st, 2021 aims to support Indigenous families in their search for answers about the disappearance or death of their children following an admission to a health or social service institution before December 31st, 1992. With this law, the Government of Quebec wishes to help families and their communities shed light on their children’s fate. The hope is to better understand the circumstances of the disappearance or death of the children, to know where they are, if they are still alive, or where they were buried.
Upon tabling this second report, the Minister revealed that as of February 28th, 2023, 18 months after the Act came into effect, 80 families had already called on the Direction de soutien aux familles and its partners, the Special Advisor for Family Support, Ms. Anne Panasuk, and the Awacak Family Association, for support, and that research is currently underway for a total of 120 missing or deceased children.
The Government of Quebec is determined to do everything possible to support families in their quest for the truth. In collaboration with the institutions covered by the Act, the Secrétariat aux Relations avec les Premières Nations et les Inuit will continue to support the families in a spirit of respect for their wishes and needs on their path to healing. Moreover, the last Budget doubled funding for the Direction aux familles to satisfy the families’ growing needs, especially in the case of exhumations or research related to Indigenous residential schools.
“It is with great humility that I present the second report on the Act, which came into effect 18 months ago. During this short time, we have made much progress. We are currently seeking information about 120 children, 65 more than at this time last year. The work is far from over, so I am especially glad to say it is being carried out by an exceptional multidisciplinary team, which shows admirable dedication on a daily basis. I would like to recognize the families for their strength, their courage, and the trust they have placed in this process. I hope it will bring them some comfort and peace. To the families who have already called on us, and to all those who hopefully will soon: we are by your side.”
Ian Lafrenière, Minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and the Inuit
- Between 1940 and 1980, Indigenous children evacuated from their communities to a health or social services institution were rarely accompanied by a parent or relative. They arrived alone to receive care. Following these admissions, some families received news of their child’s death. Others were never again notified, and do not know what happened.
- The Act to authorize the communication of personal information to the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution was adopted in response to Call for Justice No. 20 of the of National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ complementary report for Quebec.
- It proposes culturally safe measures to support families in their search for information from a health or social services establishment, an organization or a religious congregation on the circumstances surrounding the death or disappearance of a child following their admission to a health and social services institution.
- A special advisor for family support was appointed by the Minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and the Inuit in June 2021. Ms. Anne Panasuk was mandated to support the Minister in the application of the Act, by ensuring optimal relations and communications between Indigenous families and the Government of Quebec.
- A Direction du soutien aux familles has also been set up to offer direct support services to families and their loved ones in their search for information.
- The Awacack Family Association works with the Direction du soutien aux familles and Ms. Panasuk to ensure that loved ones of missing children are treated with dignity, and with respect for their culture, throughout the process.
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For further information: Source : Magalie Lapointe, Attachée de presse, Cabinet du ministre responsable des Relations avec les Premières Nations et les Inuit, Tél. : 450 502-6873; Information : Relations avec les médias, Direction des communications, Ministère du Conseil exécutif, Tél. : 418 781-9520, firstname.lastname@example.org