Pat Angnakak

Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak says she's frustrated the department has made the change quietly. (Courtesy of Pat Angnakak)

After 20 years, Iqaluit’s Ilagiittut Group Home is changing from a home for children with special needs to a home for troubled teenagers, but some are asking what prompted the change.

The shift in focus means the six children who lived there have been relocated to family or foster homes within the territory, or sent to the South (the department wouldn’t say where the children were placed, due to privacy concerns).

That concerns Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak.

"I think it's the wrong decision to make," she said. 

While Angnakak said there is a need for services for older children, she's not happy that one need is coming at the expense of another. 

“I’m a little frustrated that things have just continued on, even though people have voiced their concern in how things have been dealt with and in sending the children to Ottawa,” she said.

Angnakak took on the group home as a cause in the legislature in March.

She said she thinks the transition was done quietly.

The Department of Family Services announced the change in November, but says the work has been in place for the last year.

“In this instance, having young children grow up in a group home is not appropriate,” said Peter Dudding, director of children and family services. “It is our belief that children wherever possible should grow up in a family setting.”

Dudding said that could mean kinship care, foster care or adoption.

“These are services that tend to be of a fairly personalized and intimate nature,” he added.

Dudding said a lot of thoughtful planning and work has gone on to make the shift.  

As of now, the group home is still open. By September, staff will be trained to handle older children.