Seeing inaction on systemic racism, Native Women's Shelter of Montreal cuts ties with Batshaw

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Nakuset, director of the Native Women's Shelter, said evidence of systemic racism within the health board that oversees Batshaw is ongoing and remains unaddressed. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Nakuset, director of the Native Women's Shelter, said evidence of systemic racism within the health board that oversees Batshaw is ongoing and remains unaddressed. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Native Women's Shelter of Montreal is suspending its partnership with an advisory committee involved in improving the city's youth protection services for Indigenous children.

The decision comes after months of not getting concrete commitments or action from the Batshaw Youth and Family Centre in relation to several recommendations made in reports and public inquiries such as the Viens Commission and the Laurent Commission.

Batshaw provides youth protection services for anglophones in Montreal, including Inuit children who are flown in from Nunavik, Que.

In an August letter addressed to the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, the regional health authority that oversees Batshaw, the shelter's executive director, Nakuset, said evidence of systemic racism directed at Indigenous children and their families within the CIUSSS is ongoing, and remains unaddressed.

An investigation by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission found earlier this year that Inuit children under Batshaw's care do not receive an adequate education, and are sometimes discouraged from speaking their mother tongue.

Nakuset, who has for years advocated for better care of Indigenous children in youth protection, says there's been little progress since then.

"We do not see any need at this time to further participate in meetings that produce practically no systemic changes at the employment and the service delivery levels for our peoples," said Nakuset.

A release by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) notes that one month later, the shelter has not received a response to its letter.

CRARR and the shelter are expected to hold a news conference later today.

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