Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) announced it will work to remove barriers for youth requiring access to health, social and educational services.

The announcement will allow Inuit families “life-changing and long overdue” access to key health, social and education services, while an Inuit-specific framework is being developed, said ITK President Natan Obed.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

“I was pleased to be able to announce in June that we would begin work to develop an Inuit-specific component to the Child First Initiative,” said ITK President Natan Obed in the news release.

“This announcement allows Inuit families to access key health, social and education-related services now, under the existing Child First Initiative framework, while an Inuit-specific framework is being developed. For Inuit families, these services are life-changing and long overdue.”

Meeting the needs of Inuit children requires “specific policies in place that address the realities faced by Inuit families,” states a Sept. 10 news release.

Obed and Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott made a joint announcement that the Inuit-specific Child First Initiative and framework is developing interim measures for Inuit families to formally make requests for services from Indigenous Services Canada on behalf of their children.

“Today marks an important step forward in improving access to quality services and ensuring that Inuit children receive the supports they need,” said Philpott in the release.

“The Inuit-specific Child First Initiative will help families access necessary services without delay,” she said.

While interim measures are in place, Inuit partners, provinces and territories are continuing their work to finalize the framework, the release states.

Families can contact regional representatives to seek coverage based on their child’s needs, including wheelchair ramps, addictions, mental health and cultural services, assessments and screenings, medical equipment and therapeutic services.

There are additional provisions for land-based activities, summer camps and care programs that integrate cultural beliefs and practices.

Parents, guardians and representatives can make requests from regional representatives for educational services, including tutoring, special school transportation, psycho-educational assessments and assistive technologies and electronics.

All Inuit children are eligible through the Child First Initiative and must be recognized by an Inuit land claim organization and be below the age of majority in their province or territory of residence.

Inuk children over the age of 16 can also make requests on their own behalf, and community groups representing children with similar needs can make group requests.

Applicants who have submitted requests for an Inuk child since July 2016 under Jordan’s Principle can contact regional representatives for reimbursement.

Avery Zingel

Avery Zingel is a reporter and photographer in Yellowknife, regularly covering environment, health and territorial politics. Avery is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism and Political...

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