Government of Canada Supports Initiative to Protect and Empower Atikamekw Youth in Quebec

News release

March 30, 2021 – La Tuque, Quebec – Department of Justice Canada

Canadians expect to live in a society where the criminal justice system is fair and impartial and supports the needs of victims. The justice system must also promote rapid and effective interventions for young people who have committed offences by taking measures aimed at rehabilitation and reintegration.

The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, along with the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, today announced Government of Canada support for the Atikamekw Nation Council. The support provided will enable the Atikamekw Nation Council to develop culturally appropriate programs for community sentences under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

This project will help provide Atikamekw youth aged 12 to 17 with a number of culturally appropriate activities based on restorative justice principles. With the support received, the Atikamekw Nation Council will be able to raise awareness among youth involved in the criminal justice system through community-based interventions aimed at awareness and accountability that include family (family council), Elders (Elder council) and the victim. The project, carried out with respect for Atikamekw values and approaches, includes support circles, sharing circles, camps, and workshops on the land. A human relations officer and two Atikamekw community workers will also be hired, and training will be provided to community workers.

As a tribal council, the Atikamekw Nation Council is responsible for all government programs and services for the Atikamekw people. Through the Youth Justice Fund, the Department of Justice Canada is providing nearly $945,000 in financial support over three years to the Atikamekw Nation Council for its project.

The Government of Canada recognizes that Indigenous people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and is working to implement initiatives to address this overrepresentation. In a project such as this one from the Atikamekw Nation Council, culturally appropriate measures will effectively address criminal behaviour in young people, thereby helping to prevent future involvement in the criminal justice system. 


“The project proposed by the Atikamekw Nation Council will reduce the number of Atikamekw youth involved in the criminal justice system. This funding will allow the Atikamekw Nation Council the freedom to develop culturally appropriate programs for youth serving community sentences. We are confident it will have a positive impact on youth in its community.” 

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“The Government of Canada is proud to support the Atikamekw Nation Council in implementing its intervention programs to prevent the future involvement of Atikamekw youth in the criminal justice system. By empowering youth and relying on the principles of restorative justice, these programs will enable them and their families to connect with their culture, language and land. Many thanks to the Atikamekw Nation Council for implementing programs that will have a positive impact on its youth.” 

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“We are delighted to receive the support of the Government of Canada for the Atikamekw Youth Empowerment Project under the YCJA and to be able to add another string to our bow. The Atikamekw Nation Council and Atikamekw Onikam Social Services are working extremely hard to develop services and tools to better serve our members. Many of our projects are success stories, and we are considered pioneers in this field. A number of different organizations have sent us requests to present our projects/programs to them because they have seen how effective they are. The Atikamekw should be proud of their national institution.” 

Constant Awashis
Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation

Quick facts

  • The Department of Justice’s Youth Justice Fund aims to provide a more effective youth justice system, to find solutions to emerging youth justice issues, and to promote citizen and community participation in the youth justice system.

  • With an annual budget of $4.5 million, the Youth Justice Fund supports projects that advance key priorities, such as reducing the incarceration rate for Indigenous youth.

  • In January 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was mandated to develop, in consultation and in collaboration with the provinces and territories and Indigenous partners, an Indigenous Justice Strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.

  • The Atikamekw Nation’s approach promotes the preservation of the family unit as a core value of a culture that values the lives of its children and fosters their safety and development. The continued development of social services is based on the foundations of Atikamekw culture, values and aspirations.

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For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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