Background – Umingmak Child and Youth Support Center
Crime rates in Nunavut are the highest in Canada, and the need to intervene and reduce the cycle of violence and abuse is a priority. Child and youth victims aged 0-17, by police service and violation, Nunavut 2012 reported through the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada shows; sexual assault 112, sexual interference 40, and physical assault 344.
Nunavut currently is without much needed collaborative services that specialize in investigative and treatment skills to address the above issues around sexual abuse and violence that the children and youth are victim and witness to. Services for victims, witnesses and their families are required.
The investigation of child abuse involves many different service providers including police, child welfare, medical, legal prosecutors, victim support, courts and other professionals as required. The team required is unique to each child. These investigative processes require coordination and cooperation amongst these service providers in order to ensure that all legal and forensic evidence is gathered. It is well recognized and researched that the investigative processes can be traumatic and difficult for child and youth victims. The evidence informed best practice indicates that well coordinated approaches lead to improved prosecution, realizing justice and mitigating trauma for victims, improved outcomes for victims and ending the cycle of abuse. This is particularly important for Inuit who have had challenging experiences with the justice and child welfare systems. Modern evidence based approaches that integrate well-coordinated and supportive services, along with cultural values are more effective in addressing these problems and improving outcomes for victims. The application of Inuit Societal Values will be extremely important and unique in the development of this Centre.
The primary goal is to improve on, and enhance the working relationships between designated agencies and departments through a robust collaborative approach for the benefit of children and youth who are either victims or witness to these crimes. The Government of Canada describes a child advocacy centre model as “a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child victims or children who have witnessed a crime” (Department of Justice, 2012).
In order to reduce the high incidence of child abuse and violence in Nunavut, and reduce trauma associated with investigation and treatment, a child and youth advocacy centre that is child and youth focused, and offers culturally sensitive services is seen as a promising approach.
On October 7, 2010 the Government of Canada announced funding for the creation and enhancement of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) across Canada. Departments with the Government of Nunavut and local Federal Government were engaged as an Advisory team working to engage community agencies, of the need to develop such a centre. October 2013, the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation presented this committee with expression of interest to work together and carry out this much-needed initiative.
The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation works closely with the advisory committee that is made up of 10 professionals from:
Department of Justice GN
Department of Health GN
Department of Family Services GN
Department of Education GN
RCMP “V” Division
As we carry forward with this initiative it is important that we work closely with the communities, Regional, Territorial and National Inuit Organizations, and other child and youth serving organizations in Nunavut. This to ensure that we are working to meet the appropriate needs of all Nunavummiut.
You can find more information about Child Advocacy Centres at the Department of Justice website here