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Family Mediation Services Program (Nunavut Pathfinder Project - Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit)

Year: 
2001
Description: 

Nunavut Department of Justice project providing mediation services to allow families to resolve conflict and move on peacefully as a family unit.

Status: 

Ongoing pilot

Jurisdiction: 

Nunavut

Body Responsible: 

Nunavut Department of Justice

Timeline: 
2001 Study into pilot project begins
2002 Pilot commenced in Cape Dorset and Kugluktuk
July 2005 Kugluktuk pilot closed
April 2006 Program moved to the Community Justice Program from Court Services
March 2007 Cape Dorset office closed
January 2008 New mediators hired in Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset and Cambridge Bay
Development: 
The Nunavut Court of Justice had reached a stage in its development where mediation and the incorporation of traditional Inuit justice processes were of interest both in terms of appropriate case management and dealing with the parties more effectively. It was time to examine whether a program that emphasizes cross-cultural values between southern style mediation and Inuit problem-solving practices could be implemented in Nunavut.

Annual Report at 14

In 2001, the Nunavut Department of Justice, with Federal funding, began to study the implementation of a pilot program, Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit, to provide family mediation services in two communities as a pilot project. The vision was that Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit would provide support that allows families to resolve conflict and move on peacefully as a family unit. Two Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit were to be based at each of the centres.

In 2002, the communities of Cape Dorset and Kugluktuk were chosen for the implementation of this pilot project. The pilot program in Kugluktuk was closed in July 2005.
 

In April of 2006, the IA Mediation Program was moved to the Community Justice Program from Court Services. This move was performed so that the program would gain greater recognition for increased funding from the Government of Nunavut. We hired another family program coordinator with the hope that this person could find more funding for the Cape Dorset office, but we were not successful in finding more funding. The Cape Dorset office closed on March 31st 2007.

2007 Annual Report at 21
 
Purpose: 
While recent non-adversarial innovations in the Nunavut Justice system have often focused on criminal law, few initiatives have focused on civil or family matters. Backlogs and concerns about a lack of access to family law services have been growing since Nunavut was established on April 1, 1999. The adversarial process of solving any disputes is culturally foreign to Inuit, and it has been found not to be particularly successful.

Business Plan at 5-30
We hope that the pilot projects that will start in some of our communities will be successful in assisting people to resolve their difficulties outside the normal Court system. In Nunavut, it is important not only to provide access to justice, but also to provide access to problem solving resources outside of the formal court system.

2001 Annual Report at 3
Description of Reforms: 
This program is offered to parents who are separating who may or may not be in conflict or who just want to make a verbal or written agreement. It gives parents a chance to sit down and talk about their issues so they can effectively build skills and understand each other's situation better. This program allows couples to hear each other's concerns with out interruptions. Mediation also allows people to see the strength of the other person, and that they love their children equally. In addition, mediation allows parties to build a better relationship and this makes it easer for them to deal with each other. This program tries to teach parents that when they separated they did not stop being parents and they need to continue sharing their responsibilities for their child equally.

2007 Annual Report at 19

General counselling training was provided to the Cape Dorset and Iqaluit counsellors in March 2006, following which the counselling services offered were expanded to include other issues affecting families such as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

A full-time person in the Iqaluit office supervises the community counsellors and provides counselling and mediation services to the residents of Iqaluit. She also provides telephone service to people in remote communities. In December 2006, the Parenting After Separation Program was added. 

Services provided by the Senior Family Support Counselor at the Iqaluit office include:

  • Information sessions for new clients, including how mediation works
  • Providing contact information for lawyers working in Legal Aid
  • Referring clients to professional counselors at Social Services and Inuit Organizations
  • Provide family law information to clients
  • Modified mediations where the Family mediator does separate mediation when needed due to anger, fear, or location issues. This is to promote the safety and equal participation of the separate parties involved
  • Telephone mediations when parties live in different communities
    2007 Annual Report at 21

Case Files at the Iqaluit Office

  • Thirty new files opened between April 1, 2007and Feb 18, 2008.
  • Telephone mediation: 2 files mediated.
  • Separate mediation: 5 files mediated.
  • In same room mediation: 8 files mediated.
  • Referral out to other organizations: 8 files.
  • Client in for information on mediation or other: 15 people.

Many of the clients have stated that the mediation process is better for their situations because it allows them to come to a mutual decision on their children's futures. Many have mentioned that they are happy to have the parenting plans and schedules. They feel that they now have a better understanding of when the children will be with each parent and they have made this decision on their own. Most clients feel comfortable that they can always go back to mediation if the need should arise and that the mediation process has given them confidence in their decisions. The majority of clients say the mediation process has given them a better understanding of each other and helped them to gain better communication skills.

2007 Annual Report at 21
 

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Dec 19, 2013:custom:F, Dec 19, 2013:custom:Y.