UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

When cultural competence is inadequate : an opportunity for a new approach to child welfare in Nunavut Johnston, Patricia


This research explores Nunavut’s child welfare system through a review of research on child welfare in rural Aboriginal communities, the experiences of social workers who have worked in Nunavut’s child welfare system, and a discussion of social work theory and Inuit traditional knowledge. Through data analysis the role of Qallunaat child welfare workers as colonial agents with particular attention paid to the employment of and power held by Qallunaat social workers, colonialism and the imposition of southern Canadian ideology are examined. Child welfare in Nunavut is then discussed in light of the values and beliefs built into the territory’s mainstream model of child welfare and the contrast between Inuit culture and world view, with that of the dominant culture in southern Canada. This study looks at the development of Nunavut’s child welfare system, the direction of Inuit self-government and the need for increased Inuit control and decision-making power over child welfare. This research determined that child welfare in Nunavut, as in the rest of Canada, is not meeting the needs of children and families. Culturally competent child welfare services were also found to be inadequate in providing culturally specific child welfare services to Inuit families. In addition, this study also came to the conclusion that a new approach to child welfare is needed for Inuit communities and such an approach must be created out of Inuit traditional knowledge and an Inuit perspective of community needs.

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