Since September 1, 2021, Indigenous families have had access to support in the search for information about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance or death of their child after being admitted to a health and social services institution.

They may request support by phone or email from the Direction de soutien aux familles at the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones. The support team will take into account the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the families involved, as well as their psychological and spiritual needs in order to assist them adequately in this process.

This assistance is provided for in An 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 Act) This hyperlink will open in a new window., which came into force on September 1, 2021.

How to apply

To apply, contact the Direction de soutien aux familles as follows:

Direction de soutien aux familles

The mission of the Direction de soutien aux familles is to work with the Minister to assist Indigenous families in their search for information from a health and social services institution, body or religious congregation about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance or death of their child following an admission to an institution

To do this, the team provides support services in a spirit of cooperation with families. The team will take into account the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the families involved, as well as their psychological and spiritual needs.

The development of culturally relevant and safe services is a priority.

Services offered:

  • Information regarding support services and the Act
  • Assistance in the search for information
  • Culturally and linguistically appropriate support for families at all stages of the process
  • Possibility of psychological and spiritual support for families, adapted to their needs
  • Referral to appropriate support and healing services

In carrying out its mandate, the team collaborates with various experts and Indigenous partners, as well as with a special advisor for family support.

Special advisor

Journalist Anne Panasuk, who was behind the investigations carried out with the Innu families of Pakuashipi and the Atikamekw families who experienced the death and disappearance of children following their hospitalization, was appointed on June 8, 2021, as a special advisor for family support.

The special advisor’s mandate is to guide and support the Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs in the application of the Act, more specifically by ensuring optimal relations and communications between Indigenous families and the Québec government.

In cooperation with the Direction de soutien aux familles, she will take on the following responsibilities:

  • Establishing and coordinating the monitoring committee provided for in the Act
  • Maintaining relations between Indigenous families and the Québec government for the purpose of the Act and its application
  • Honouring the mandate to inform Indigenous families of the measures in place to support them in their search for information, including the procedures to be followed under the Act
  • Providing support and advice in the application of the various provisions of the Act, including those related to the disclosure of personal information, the exercise of investigative powers and the support mandate during disinterment
  • Contributing to the preparation, dissemination and presentation of the annual report provided for in the Act

The Act in brief

The Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs introduced Bill 79: An 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 hyperlink will open in a new window. to the National Assembly in December 2020. Following the completion of legislative work, which included specific consultations with various Indigenous organizations and families, the Act was passed and assented to in June 2021.

The Act is a response to the 20th call for justice and the spirit of the 21st call for justice in Supplementary Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Kepek-Quebec This hyperlink will open in a new window..

The main purpose of the Act is to support Indigenous families in their search for information from an institution, body or religious congregation about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of children following their admission to one of these places before December 31, 1992.

Background

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls focused on cases of missing and dead Indigenous children in circumstances unknown to their families, following their admission to a health and social services institution between the 1950s and 1980s.

At the end of its work, the Inquiry released its final report. The Québec‑specific supplementary report was accompanied by 21 calls for justice, one of which was to “provide Indigenous families with all the information (the government) has about children who have been apprehended following admission to a hospital or any other health center in Quebec” (Call for Justice No. 20).

In the Québec-specific supplementary report, entitled Reclaiming Power and Place – Volume 2 – A Supplementary Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Kepek-Quebec (2019) This hyperlink will open in a new window., the Inquiry devotes a section to family testimonies and analyses (pages 107–110).

Complaints

Families that are dissatisfied with the services they receive may file a complaint using the existing mechanisms offered by health institutions, bodies and religious congregations, and also the mechanism specified in the Act.

The person responsible for the mechanism specified in the Act may provide support if a family requests it when filing a complaint, and during the processing of the complaint.

After analyzing the complaint, the complaints coordinator will contact the institution, body or religious congregation concerned to suggest ways to improve its approach, in particular by raising awareness.

Before filing a complaint

If you are not satisfied with a service you have received, you can file a complaint directly with the healthcare institution, public body or religious congregation concerned using their own complaints procedure.

If you need assistance in order to use the procedure, the complaints coordinator at the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones can help you draw up and submit your case.

If you do not want to use the procedure, the complaints coordinator can process your case concerning the services received when seeking information from an institution, body or religious congregation, in accordance with sections 19 and 20 of the Act.

After analyzing your file, the complaints coordinator at the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones will contact the institution, body or religious congregation concerned, to target better understanding and an improvement in practices, in particular by raising awareness among the relevant staff members.

For this purpose, the complaints department will send its conclusions, giving reasons, to the institution, body or religious congregation concerned. The conclusions will also be forwarded to the complainant in the form requested (in accordance with the public health measures in effect during the pandemic – for example, the conclusions may be sent in writing and a telephone conversation or videoconference call may be arranged). The arrangements may change, depending on the public health measures in force.

Some information is of key importance for the processing of your complaint, including

  • the names of the people you have spoken to or contacted at the healthcare institution, body or religious congregation concerned;
  • the actual or approximate date on which you interacted with them, and the situation you experienced or observed at the time;
  • a summary of the comments made, actions taken and results obtained;
  • a copy of any documents you sent or received.

If you do not have all the key information, you can contact the complaints coordinator at the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones, who will provide guidance in the preparation of your file.

How to file a complaint

To file a complaint under the Act, or for more information on complaints, please contact the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones