Missing Indigenous children: A bill to help families find answers
Cabinet de la ministre responsable des Affaires autochtones
To help people searching for information about the circumstances of an Indigenous child's disappearance or death, yesterday the Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, tabled the draft 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. The Bill is tabled in response to calls for justice 20 and 21 in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' supplementary report concerning Québec.
The Bill is designed to provide a practical way for Indigenous families to obtain information from a health and social services institution, an organization or a religious congregation about the circumstances in which a child disappeared or died after being admitted to a health and social services establishment up to 1989. Once passed the Act, will, under certain conditions, make it possible to disclose information to these Indigenous families. Specifically, the Act introduces exemptions from the current rules on access that prevent the release of information to families. It also gives the Minister a power of inquiry when elements shedding light on the circumstances of a child's disappearance or death exist, but cannot be disclosed under current rules.
"We are opening up the books. The Bill is a move toward openness and transparency that is absolutely necessary and without precedent. I sympathize deeply with the families that have had no news of their children for so long. Situations like this leave a deep scar, and I hope that their search for information, and the support they will receive thanks to this new law, will bring some peace and comfort. I would also like to commend the work of my predecessor and Member for Mirabel, Sylvie D'Amours. The Bill was crafted under her leadership and she considered it to be especially important. Her hope, for the families, was that this Bill would become a reality."
Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs
"Today, we are doing everything within our power to make sure that at last, Indigenous families can find out what happened. I hope that the information they obtain will alleviate some of the grief they have felt for too long. The Bill will provide support for these families and ensure that they do not have to go through this difficult process on their own. Though of course, I cannot entirely understand their suffering, I can imagine the pain these parents and families have felt, and I sympathize deeply. I would like to thank the new Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, for completing a project that was so dear to my heart."
Sylvie D'Amours, Member for Mirabel