Impact of Inuit customary adoption on behavioral problems in school-age Inuit children



The articles outline the differences between cultural and ethnic identities among Canadian Inuit customary adoption. It focuses on the relative importance of languages with a specific target on native language and form of education in defining these identities. The research suggests that cultural ident and ethnic identity are different and that serene language, without being vital to the definition of Inuit identity plays a crucial role within a contemporary Inuit culture. Having focused on topics on part 1, here we explore traditional and contemporary practices of indigenous custom adoption and caretaking. Firstly, we will recount first the western understanding and impositions and then in later stages; we will feature indigenous perspectives that centre spiritual and ceremonial protocols. The primary focus of the article is the values regarding child well-being and community attachment. On the other hand, the importance of kinship and customary forms of caretaking will be outlined in the article. We considered both the promises and the challenges that are involved in designing and initiating custom adoptions and the urgent need for adequate, equitable funding support. The primary purpose for the above is to ensure their feasibility and sustainability within the community. Lastly, we will highlight the resurgence of indigenous authority over the welfare of the child within the context of indigenous self-determination and self-governance.


Custom adoption also is known as the customary, cultural, or traditional adoption refer to the practices of caretaking that normally takes place in the indigenous communities. The practice is much more than an indigenous way of doing adoption.  The reason for this is because it is a complex situation in that a variety of alternative parenting arrangements either permanent or temporally, may be put in place for the objective of addressing the needs of children and families. The paper will begin by discussing and acknowledging the concept of custom adoptions in both loaded and contested communities. In social science, relationships among languages, culture and identity have become a favourite topic over the last two decades. The question that keeps upholding concern, for instance, the difference between culture and ethnic identity. Are both two types of identity the same and they are conceptually differentiated? Similarly, some scholars hold varied views on the role of the language in defining one’s identity.

In this scientific research paper, we will examine hope some Inuit from the Canadian perceive and expires their linguistic and cultural ethnic identities. For the sake of examination, I will define the term “culture” as people’s attitudes and practices towards language. While the term ethnic denotes the political role played by the community in the larger part of Canada. The differencing of the terms stems from the fact the collective identity that defines their own place in the world in most instances discussed as being in conjunction with the interrelated culture. Therefore, cultural identity can be defined as a basic consciousness of individual specify amongst other people in the form of living habits custom and language.

Depending on the line of expression in terms of humanity or otherwise, cultural identity is universal. The element that carries accusations is that people in the world are conscious of some sort of specificity. These set them apart from others. Ethnicity has a greater link to cultural identity because for one to categorise people, he must refer to some of their cultural-linguistic or religious specifications.  Ethnic classification might be based upon a criterion that is not cultural. An example of such criteria is by the use of physical appearance or in some instances; they use race.

Generally, ethnic identity operates in a way to gain access to or to be alienated from some economic, political or cultural resources. That is the reason as to why it cannot or rarely occurs in less complex societies where all resources are presumably, equally available to everybody.  Ethnic identity is highly linked to politics thus giving the right definition as being the power to control and regulate the availability and distributing of the same resources.

Material and methods

In the eastern Canada, the language of the Inuit is still in use much more than any other part of the country. According to the Canadian census statistics in 1991, it showed that the language was the mother tongue for more than 85 percent of the Canadian population. As evidenced in this research paper, the language is highly valued by most of the speakers as being the easiest way to express their feelings and their inner thoughts. They also use this language as a symbol to show the reality of their nature.

Language behaviour and linguistic values

As per the research, it revealed that explored inuit attitudes and practices towards language knowledge and culture are bonded. They live in small comminuted where their primary activity that sustains life is fishing and hunting despite others relying on the wage work. On the basis of sampling, out of fifteen individuals both men and women, six were unilingual in Inuktitut and nine comprised of the other group. Among those who were born in the early 1930s, only one had fluency in the English language. He was lucky to learn the language during a three-year stay in the southern hospital. In nearly the entire area, gender did not seem to have any bearing on the degree of fluency in either language.

Custom adoption is board term that used to refer to tradition, practice and customs of diverse indigenous communities. In varied circumstances, acknowledging this diversity is critical this making it difficult to understand because if the complexity that comes along with custom adoption policy. In the context of a contemporary child, the practices and traditions of customary caretaking and adoption have always existed in distinct communities. This traditions and practices need to be recentered and reinterpreted.  When reentering and reinterpretation is is conducted, it will enable honouring of the early traditions thus addressing the challenges that are inherent and balancing federal policies.

The royal commission of the Inuit people commissions a paper on custom adoption in 1995. After the review of all ethnographical literature on the topic, the paper by author concluded that customary in Canada could be understood as a transaction in kinship. The kinship would reflect on the economic concepts and cultural values. Custom occasions rarely occur outside the extended family. But it normally functions within a network of generalised reciprocity. This means that preexisting relationships of sharing and support to reinforce the existing community ties.

  • Depending on purpose and practice, custom adoption and other customary care arrangements in four core ways from non-indigenous statutory adoptions. These include;
  • Rarely involving strangers and normally involving only relatives or kin
  • They are not about the parenthood, but it’s about kin relationship that concerns the whole community
  • They consider the needs of the adults and relatives and relatives, also the needs of the child
  • Birth and the family who are adopting will have to develop an agreement. The needs of the birth family are essential thus creating a bond between both families and in the long run encouraging the active occasion of the child within both families.

The emphasis on the adoption practices is rarely bout the severing ties, but it is bout aiming at strengthening family, kin and the community relationship. For a number of reasons, custom adoption was traditionally practised. The core reason as to why these children are given up for adoption is because their parents cannot take the good of them.  On the other hand, statutory adoption is married by historical events of disconnection, forced assimilation, secrecy and shame. According to on the limited information generated from these topics, traditional customs adoptions included five broad types; these are political, economical, mourning, permanent and temporary.

Temporally and permanent adoptions normally occur in a number of reasons. For example, Keewatin reports that the light of the north-west coast would send their 10-year-old to live with their maternal uncle for the purpose of learning clan lineage. In this community, the rearing of the child is was viewed as “a reason to live”. Due to this, elders gained respect for raising children. Among the blood people, grandparents would often raise one of their grandchildren because it was a sign of closeness between elders and grandchildren.  In this process, it exposes children to the same values the same that parent would have given.  In a custom like the Haida, who would not bear children would approach one of her sisters and request for the child to rise.

Apart from these reasons, several other reasons would participate in custom adoption. Some parents might have a desire of balancing of gender in the family or in some instances try to forge social alliances with other people. Children are considered as gifts, so getting a child through adoption would provide honour and prestige to the adoptive parents. Custom adoption was geared to benefit apart from the real parents, and in some communities, protective measures were put in to allow for reclaiming an adoptee if at some point adoptive parents subject the child to abuse.


Customary care arrangements normally do not unfold without the sense of loss and rupture. An example of this is found in the NONG SILA research. It gives an account that an elder shares that her daughter was given to his sister through a customary adoption that included cultural practices and even ceremonies.  When the daughter grew up and had children of her own, the elder was heartbroken when the children called her “Auntie” instead of being referred to as “grandmother”. She shared that her experience was shaped by grief and a sense of secrecy that she felt she could never address in her community. The research gave an account of other similar stories in the community in the course of the research. These stories are important reminders to resist the oversimplification and romantics of these approaches instead check out the holistic and realistic understanding.

In one of the stories given by the indigenous adoptee or the adopters, the author shares the, he wrote;

I am of Cree ancestry and was born in 1962 at the age of i8 months; I was given to my present parents who are also of the Cree ancestry. My natural family and adoptive family were not related by blood, but they were from the same region. The arrangement was made to have me raised by my adoptive family. My extended family also practised custom adoption. .. Within this extended family, eight of the grandchildren were given at birth to families who were able to care for the child or those who wanted a child. These children have been raised in the homes that they were given to at birth, but all of them move freely among homes without any barriers or conditions. There has never been any legal intervention, and all family members accept and are comfortable with agreements. (p.5)

The above description highlights the flexibility of customs arrangements and the freedom of movement among various homes. This kind of life is still very much the rule of in many indigenous families.  The literature explored within this section strongly attests to the diversity and the complexity of indigenous customs homes communities and more importantly, the relationships among themselves.


Custom adoption as rooted in worldview

When we speak about custom adoption, it is vital to consider how indigenous worldwide conceptualise childhood, relationship community and parenthood in a manner that stands apart from western rights, attachment permanency and the best interests of the child. There are three basic values that inform the practice of custom adoption; these include honouring a child, kinship and fluidity.

Much of the information concerning the honour of the child has been highlighted in this scientific research paper. From the detailed observation, indigenous people believe that homes need children as children need homes. Children are seen as the sacred gift and are made to know that they are important. From the assertion by the writer, children from birth are objects of kindness and love from a wider circle of kin and friends.  In indigenous world views, they tend to honour and value children as gifts and resources that  are meant to be shared so as to promote community strength, bonding and most importantly, caring.


Kinship is a spider web of relationships. These include humans and the natural world and other complex arrangements of rights and obligations that surpass the boundaries of western notions of nuclear family. According to the western attachment theory, for instance, it was not developed through research with indigenous people and do not reflect their worldview experience. In the chapter, working with indigenous adoptees is an essential factor because they value the importance of kinship.

In courts, attachment theories are often used to determine the interest of the child based on the notion that the main objective of the child welfare system. The importance of this is that it preserves the continuity of care with a primary caregiver. If is vital to note that indigenous cultures conceptualise the best interest altogether differently. The best interests of the wider community are often conceptualised and linked to the best interest of individual children. Justine William morrow who is a strong supporter of custom adoptions in his reign as a judge in the northern west territories wrote this with regard to Inuit custom “The original inhabitants of northern Canada have attained this goal of {chills bets interest}, they have practised over the years without any need to have it written down. It is by custom alone.  ” in simple terms, traditional indigenous custom care arrangements have a historic operation in the child’s best interest.

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