A first summit of the Atikamekw family to rebuild better

The summit was held in two stages: the first to which families from the three Atikamekw communities, but also those living in the city were invited. Then a part devoted to professionals offering services to members of the nation.

For several years, the idea of ​​such a summit had been germinating within the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw. Réginald Flamand, father and grandfather, remembers that, from the 90s, we were already discussing in the estates general a way of doing things for families.

Today is the launch of a new approach. It’s a bit of realigning ourselves to anchor ourselves again on our Atikamekw values ​​which revolve around the nation of familylaunched the great leader of the nation, Constant Awashish. This is part of the continuum of our social policy determined in 1997.

Young people from a hostel inscribed the important values ​​of the Atikamekw nation on wooden boards.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

Young people from Foyer Mamo, a rehabilitation housing resource, also recalled the values ​​by inscribing them on wooden boards displayed in the room.

The couple is like the roots of the tree. The healthier your roots are, the bigger your family will grow. »

A quote from Natasha Savard, Director of Social Services Atikamekw Onikam

The summit began with the testimony of three seniors who did not hesitate to talk about their personal lives. Jo Ottawa recounted what he learned from nature, his culture, his nation. When I was able to do all that, that’s how I learned. Today, we no longer see that!he explained in Atikamekw.

Marcel Petiquay and his wife came to tell, in a more intimate way and still in Atikamekw, their personal life and as a couple.

For our communities to become right again, we must use the teachings of our grandparents. »

A quote from Marcel Petiquay

But these teachings, the elder of Wemotaci Marcel Petiquay said he lost them with the boarding schools. As a child, he was used to going by canoe, because he saw his mother leading his father. But Onne [lui] did not show how to raise his child.

He continued with his years when he stuck in consumption until he realizes it. He clearly remembers his father’s words, but also the date and his wife’s ultimatum.

Since then, the couple has made its way and is proud of it. The participants listened to them with great interest.

An old man with a cap at the microphone.

Jo Ottawa from Manawan is one of the elders to have spoken to share his life experience.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

At the family level, they are hungry, they are thirsty for guidance, but they have no idea, because the spiritual aspect has been taken away from them; this summit will helpassured Paul-Yves Weizineau, who works as a clinical advisor in traditional healing at the La Tuque Friendship Center.

The goal was to come together as a nation. We are a big family. We live the same things, we have to unite together, said the director of social protection, Alice Cleary. And it is in this idea that the first edition of this summit was called Mamo Mickatan in Atikamekw, which means let’s row together.

The couple’s story

Alice Cleary was delighted with the increasing participation and voice of men, especially since one of the subjects that was mainly discussed was family and spousal violence in the Atikamekw communities.

We talk about it on social networks in Atikamekw. There are those who denounceindicated Réginald Flamand, who recognized that the subject was delicate and less often discussed openly.

The summit is for better understanding and finding solutions. Many people are interested in change. What we hoped for thirty years ago has been implemented. There, it’s concretehe added.

Because, in addition to stories about the couple, testimonials and discussions, research results have been revealed.

Doctoral student in social work at the University of Montreal Marie-Hélène Gagnon Dion was commissioned by the Council of the Atikamekw Nation to conduct research on the Atikamekw couple through the generations.

About 160 people attended. It really lifted. The Atikamekw really felt challenged by this collective history.

She made a visual narrative of it for 1h30, because a PowerPoint does not speak to themso that the communities take ownership of the research and the results.

A woman looking at the camera.

Doctoral student Marie-Hélène Gagnon Dion is well aware that the Atikamekw couple model has changed, but the basics remain the same, she says.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

The research highlights in particular the emotional insecurity that was created by residential schools for Aboriginals, all the dynamics that resulted from it, but also the fact that, in the couple, there is not a notion of patriarchy, but rather equality, complementarity and interdependence.

As for the dynamics of violence, it is twofold: dominating-dominated, but also a two-way pattern.

The story allows us to pick up the past and move towards the future. People have testified that they have seen their whole lives looking at it. Everyone finds themselves at certain times in their life, it becomes a tool in itself, almost healing. »

A quote from Marie-Helene Gagnon Dion

This format in the form of a story created a lot of emotions in many participants. Réginald Flamand affirms that the emotions have resurfaced, as well as the discussions, in particular on the violence suffered in boarding schools, in schools, in homes.

The CNA team and the researcher hope that this story will become a tool for raising awareness and cultural security that will be useful for all sectors of intervention.

A another study on Atikamekw governance in domestic and family violence was also presented. The state’s response to domestic violence was discussed, which according to the study is culturally inappropriate, ineffective and [qui] make the problems worse.

A atikamekw community justice program as well as an alternative measures program for adults in an Aboriginal community are already in place at the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw.

Coming for the professional component, Céline Auger, worker at the Asperimowin center, a shelter for abused women in La Tuque, finds it important to have access to this information and research, whether you are new to intervention or seasoned.

It’s good, it refreshes some information that we had, but that we put on the tabletshe explained.

A man speaks behind a lectern in front of people listening to him.

Grand Chief Constant Awashish hopes this summit will be good for self-confidence and bring more stability and less distress to families.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

The summit is an event that was meant to be about learning, but also about collecting information and sharing it. It’s only the beginning of a big adventuresaid Grand Chief Awashish. Strengthen our identity through our families and, for that, we have to go to the base.

There will be a sequel, promised Alice Cleary.

It will be a big job, but I feel everyone’s desire.

A first summit of the Atikamekw family to rebuild better