Key Terms


Advocacy is the act of respectfully urging for, supporting or recommending a course of action for an individual person, a general cause, or a change in policy. An advocate often speaks up for someone else or supports the person in speaking up for themselves.

Best Interests of the Child

This idea, very broadly, is a way for adults to evaluate decisions being made about a child. Making a decision based on the best interests of the child means the child’s well-being is at the heart of decision-making about them – not what is best for an adult or government. The ultimate goal is to ensure a child or youth’s ultimate safety and well-being. 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says governments must consider the best interests of the child when making decisions about children. The Convention also emphasizes that parents should follow the best interests of the child in raising their children.

Many factors help determine what the best interests of an individual child are. These can include (but aren’t limited to):

  • what the child says they need (given their capacity)
  • whether the child will be safe
  • the child’s right to their culture and family ties
  • the child’s right to health


Capacity means the ability to understand something.

Respect for children’s growing capacity is a key concept in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The concept recognizes that children’s capacity to make independent decisions develops gradually as they move towards adulthood. Each child’s path to full, adult autonomy is unique and should be evaluated according to age and maturity level. The concept also suggests that governments and parents must continually adjust the support they give to a child based on the child’s evolving capacity.


The Representative for Children and Youth Act identifies a child as a person who is under 16 years old.

Child and Youth Facility

Under the RCY Act, facilities include all physical structures that provide services to children and youth under a law of Nunavut or related to the criminal justice system. Facilities include schools, hospitals, foster homes and correctional centres. They also include child daycares that have a Government of Nunavut-issued licence to operate.

Critical Injury

An injury that may result in the death of a person or in serious or long-term impairment of the health of a person.

Designated Authority

A designated authority is an organization identified in Schedule A of the RCY Act.

The Representative has duties and powers involving these organizations, just like the Representative has with Government of Nunavut departments. Throughout this website, when we refer to government departments, we are also referring to designated authorities. Current designated authorities include:

  • The Nunavut Apprenticeship, Trade and Occupations Certification Board
  • The Labour Standards Board
  • The Legal Services Board of Nunavut
  • Nunavut Arctic College
  • Nunavut Housing Corporation
  • The Victims Assistance Committee
  • Operators of licensed child daycare facilities
  • District Education Authorities
  • Governing bodies of schools identified under section 197 of the Education Act

Government Department

Throughout this website we use government department to refer to the Government of Nunavut’s departments, branches, offices and designated authorities (see definition above). The term does not include the Legislative Assembly or its independent officers such as the Languages Commissioner. It also does not include the federal government.

Inuit Societal Values

Inuit societal values can help apply traditional Inuit knowledge into a modern context and everyday practices. Traditional Inuit knowledge or Inuit qaujimajatuqangit is a body of knowledge that has developed and grown over thousands of years. It includes knowledge of the Inuit interrelationship with each other, families and the environment.


A representative is someone chosen to act or speak for a larger group. Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth is the person chosen by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut to ensure government departments (see definition above) hear and consider the rights of young Nunavummiut. Other common titles for this position used in other areas are Child Advocate, Advocate for Children and Youth, Ombudsman for Children and Children’s Commissioner.


Rights are the things each and every person should have or be able to do in order to lead a life of dignity and thrive.

Child rights are described in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention has 54 different articles that identify many different child rights. They also explain the roles and responsibilities families and governments have in supporting these rights. Some child rights in the Convention include:

  • the right to a name and nationality
  • the right to healthy food and a safe environment
  • the right, as far as possible, to be cared for by parents
  • the right to education
  • the right to participate in family, cultural and social life
  • the right to protection from violence

All the articles in the Convention are interconnected. They can’t be divided from each other and no one right can trump another. Instead, all rights, roles and responsibilities should be considered when making decisions that affect children and youth.

The Voice of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states all young people have the right to say what they think or need in important matters that affect them, in accordance with their capacity (see definition above). The Convention also clearly states that governments must consider what a young person says when making decisions about him or her. When they do this, we say they are considering the voice of the child.

The voice of the child is a fairly broad concept. It represents a shift away from thinking young people should only be the objects of adult decisions. Instead, it recognizes that young people can be the best people to express what they need for their well-being. Considering the voice of the child is particularly important for those decisions that could impact young people for the rest of their lives.

The voice of the child acknowledges that young people may want to participate in decisions that government makes about them. It acknowledges young people should have a means to contribute to – though not dictate – the decision-making process.


Under the Representative for Children and Youth Act, a youth is any person 16 to 18 years old. However, the Act also identifies exceptions where someone older than 18 is considered a youth. These include a young person who is 19 to 21 years old if he or she:

  • has requested or is receiving services under the Education Act and is entitled under the Act to attend school
  • was charged with an offence to which the Youth Criminal Justice Act or the Young Offenders Act applies and there has been no final disposition of the charge
  • was found guilty of an offence to which the Youth Criminal Justice Act or the Young Offenders Act  applies and has not completed his or her sentence or disposition
  • has a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory disability

Another exception is if a person is 19 to 25 years old and receiving extended support services under the Child and Family Services Act.

If a person is considered a youth under the RCY Act, we are legally able to help them.