Native Women's Shelter of Montreal pauses work with youth protection, citing unaddressed concerns

Citing unaddressed systemic racism, the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) said concrete commitments and actions were not coming from the Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre, and the shelter, along with the Indigenous research team, paused participation in a joint committee.

In a news release from the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, NWSM executive director Nakuset said recommendations for change and reconciliation were not heard.

“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,” she said in a letter sent to Montreal's health and social services centre, which includes Batshaw.

In the letter, Nakuset pointed to systemic racism in youth protection services directed at Indigenous children and their families that Batshaw has not corrected, the release reads adding that the NWSM has not received a response to its letter.

CRARR and the NWSM held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the matter.

Nakuset said that though it will no longer participate with Batshaw in the joint committee, the Native Women's Shelter is committed to helping Indigenous children.

"We sent a letter on August 19 explaing why we were no longer going to meet at the table, but it's really important to know that although we are suspending formal meetings with upper management, we are 100 per cent committed to the Indigenous children and we currently at the Native Women's Shelter," said Nakuset. "We have four staff that are dedicated to working will all the case loads. We have 50 families that we supported. We have a waiting list. We are the ones literally doing the work."