Commissioners Appointed for the Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System
June 10, 2021
The following is a joint statement from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation:
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation today announced the appointment of retired Provincial Court Judge James Igloliorte as Chief Commissioner for the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System. The Chief Commissioner will be joined by Anastasia Qupee of Sheshatshiu, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, and Dr. Mike Devine, retired Associate Professor of the School of Social Work, Memorial University, who are appointed as Commissioners of the Inquiry.
Biographies for the Commissioners can be found in the backgrounder below.
The Commission of Inquiry has been ordered as a Part II Inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act, 2006. The Provincial Government and the Innu have agreed on a Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, which will be incorporated in the Orders issued under the Act.
The Commission of Inquiry is guided by a shared commitment of the Innu Nation, the Mushuau Innu First Nation, the Sheshatshiu First Nation, and the Provincial Government to ensure the safety and well-being of, and to act in the best interests of, Innu children and youth.
The Inquiry will involve a range of processes, including: reviewing relevant documents and records, considering the need for specialized research, and conducting community sessions and hearings.
The Provincial Government allocated $4.2 million in Budget 2021 to establish the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System this year.
“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu came to an agreement that the best approach to reviewing the treatment, experiences and outcomes of Innu in the child protection system was through a Commission of Inquiry. Today’s appointment of Judge James Igloliorte as Chief Commissioner and Anastasia Qupee and Dr. Mike Devine as Commissioners sets in motion the arrangements that will be required to commence this important work. The commitment we share with the Innu is in ensuring the safety and well-being of Innu children and youth, that we act in their best interests, and that we reduce the number of Innu children in care.”
Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
“The announcement of the Inquiry into the treatment of Innu children and youth in care has been long awaited in our communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. We have known for many years that the child protection system has not been working for Innu people and that it has not operated in the best interests of our children. We hope that the Inquiry will help us better understand where the system has failed Innu and how we can work together to make the right changes for better outcomes for our children. We are confident in the people we have selected as Commissioners and we are grateful to them for their interest in and commitment to the Inquiry.”
Grand Chief Etienne Rich
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Office of the Premier
Innu Nation Communications
Biographies of Commissioners for the Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System
Honourable James Igloliorte
James Igloliorte of Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador is a retired Provincial Court Judge. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education from Memorial University, Newfoundland in 1974. He and his wife, Linda Carter, then started their career as teachers on the west coast of Newfoundland at St. James School in Lark Harbour, Bay of Islands. Mr. Igloliorte has lived in Newfoundland and Labrador his whole life.
Appointed first as a Lay Magistrate in 1980, he took responsibility of the Labrador Court and Circuit System and then completed law school at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1985. He then returned to take up duties in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as a circuit judge, a position which he held for the majority of his career. James Igloliorte was a 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipient in the category of Law and Justice. He stepped down from the bench in 2004.
James Igloliorte is a past Labrador Director with the Innu Healing Foundation and was a commissioner with the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada. He has also worked as Newfoundland and Labrador’s Child and Youth Advocate and was Commissioner of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission in Nunavut. In 2003 he received an Honourary Doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland, made all the more memorable because it was the same week in which singer-songwriter Ron Hynes was also recognized. He presently sits as a Board Member of the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation and is a Reconciliation Officer of the Sixties Scoop Settlement Agreement.
James Igloliorte was retained in 2020 to provide input on the nature, scope and mechanisms of the Inquiry into Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons in Newfoundland and Labrador.
James Igloliorte and his wife, Linda Carter, live in St. John’s and have four children and five grandchildren.
Anastasia Qupee is a former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation (2014-2017) and is the first female from the community of Sheshatshiu to be elected to the position. She had previously served as an elected member of the Innu Nation Board of Directors. In addition to having served two terms as Chief of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation (2004-2010), she was employed with her Band Council as Health Director and as the Director of Human Resources.
Ms. Qupee currently serves as the Director of Social Health for Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and is chairperson of the Charles J. Andrew Youth Treatment Centre. She is a former director of the Labrador-Grenfell Regional Health Services Board. Anastasia Qupee was named a Champion for Human Rights for lifelong advocacy by the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission in 2018.
During her tenure as Chief of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, Ms. Qupee was an integral member of the negotiating team responsible for the historic Tshash Petapen Agreement which recognizes the Innu Land Claims Agreement in Principle, the Lower Churchill Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) and Innu redress for the Upper Churchill hydroelectric development. As primary representative for the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation at the Labrador Innu Comprehensive Healing Strategy’s Main Table, she was also involved in the devolution of education from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to Innu.
In addition to a wealth of experience in community management, Ms. Qupee holds a Leadership Certificate in Community Management from the University of Prince Edward Island and is a graduate of Eastern College’s Human Resource program. Her primary interest is in creating the social environment and infrastructure necessary for self-government within the Innu cultural context and she is passionate about ensuring that all levels of government and government agencies recognize Innu culture and language as a pillar of health and wellness for all Innu and most especially children and youth.
Anastasia Qupee resides in her home community of Sheshatshiu, Labrador with her husband and children and takes every available opportunity to spend time with her grandchildren and extended family in Nutshimit, the country.
Dr. Mike Devine
Dr. Mike Devine of Renews, Newfoundland and Labrador, is a recently retired Professor of the School of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland (2018). He graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Social Work, Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts from Memorial.
Dr. Devine was first employed as a front line social worker with the Provincial Government in 1975, moving six years later into management positions in program areas that mostly included the child protection/child welfare program. After 23 years in those positions, Dr. Devine assumed a faculty position (1999) at Memorial. His research interests and publications included social policy and change in child welfare; organizational development and change with a focus on community and community capacity building; and the Community Relocation Program (CRP) in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dr. Devine has a long history of community volunteer work that includes: Board Member and Secretary of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador Division; member of National Task Force of Canadian Hard of Hearing Association; Chair of Community Council of Wiseman Community Center (homeless shelter for adults); member of Policy and Procedures Committee at Ruah Counselling Centre (a not for profit counselling centre). In 1992, he received the Canada Volunteer Award Certificate of Merit from Health Canada for his work related to an International Primary Health Care Project on the Southern Shore.
Mike Devine and his wife, Pauline Lake-Devine, live in St. John’s and have six children and six grandchildren.