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From the Youth Protection Act to the Atikamekw Authority Intervention System (SIAA) – One nation’s solutions to insure the wellbeing of its children

Anne Fournier

This article is concerned with the application of the Youth Protection Act in Aboriginal settings in Quebec and more specifically with the initiatives taken in this regard by the Atikamekw nation. It begins with a presentation of the general system of the Youth Protection Act in the context of its being adopted at the end of the 1970s and states the difficulties surrounding its application in Aboriginal areas in Quebec. It specifies the context in which social services were taken over by the Atikamekw and their efforts to create, and later to experiment with, a specific youth protection system applicable to their members. This specific system is at the origin of the inclusion of Article 37.5 in the Act, thereby allowing the Government of Quebec to conclude agreements with a nation, community or other aboriginal group in order to apply a specific youth protection system on a determined territory. The Atikamekw Authority Intervention System (SIAA) is the specific system that has applied to the Atikamekw of the Manawan and Wemotaci communities for a little over 15 years. SIAA exists alongside the State system. It has its own stakeholders and its own operations, which we will describe. Commonalities and differences between the general system and the specific youth protection system will be clarified and the article will be further supplemented by sharing some results ensuing from the application of SIAA.