Historic Agreement Will Assure the Creation of Culturally Relevant Child Protection Program in Atikamekw Nation Communities
LA TUQUE, QC, Jan. 29, 2018 – The Council of the Nation of Atikamekw is pleased with the signature this morning of the first-ever agreement between itself and the Quebec Government to establish a unique child protection program that respects and takes into account the cultural realities and Aboriginal values of the Atikamekw community.
“This agreement is the result of years of hard work; a veritable battle to have our autonomy in child protection matters recognized,” said the Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation, Mr. Constant Awashish. “The provisions outlined here will allow us to assume all responsibility in regards to the healthy development of our youth, all the while respecting our communities’ traditions and lifestyle.”
Aitkamekw children and their families grow and evolve in a cultural context completely distinct to other Quebec populations. They live in communities that have their own unique traditions, languages and value systems, in particular when it comes to family life and community organization. These cultural particularities necessitate the provision of culturally sensitive services that respect and provide for the autonomy of communities and their members to care for themselves.
In June 2001, in response to the demands of several Native communities and in particular the Atikamekw Nation, the Government of Quebec incorporated a provision into the Youth Protection Act to allow for the establishment of special youth protection programs for Native communities. The agreement announced this morning is the first of its kind to be established and agreed upon in the context of this provision, making it a watershed moment for the Atikamekw Nation and all other nations throughout the province.
“Taking children out of their communities and placing them in an environment completely removed from their own realities has only compounded the difficulties and injustices they’ve faced since birth,” said Mr. François Neashit, Chief of the Atikamekw community of Wemotaci. “With this agreement we can now deliver culturally relevant services to our children within our own communities and with the help and support of those closest to them. ”
“The unique program put into place will guarantee the communities’ involvement at every stage of intervention with the child, thus ensuring that the services provided are best suited to meet the needs of atikamekw youth,” added Mr. Jean-Roch Ottawa, Chief of the Atikamekw community of Manawan.
This agreement will see the application of the provisions of the Atikamekw pilot project, in lieu of those outlined in the Youth Protection Act. More concretely, for six months following the signing of this agreement, the rules specific to the new Atikamekw program will apply to all further interventions, as opposed to those set forward by Quebec’s Directorate of Youth Protection.
About the Atikamekw Nation Council
The Atikamekw – Atikamekw Sipi Nation Council (ANC) is a not-for-profit corporation created by the Atikamekw Councils of Manawan, Opitciwan and Wemotaci to unite to provide programs and services to the Atikamekw population. The ANC also plays a political role in support of the historical, political, economic, cultural and social aspirations of the Atikamekw Nation.
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