Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (Dec 2019)

Orocowewin Notcimik Itatcihowin: The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Code of Practice and the Issues Involved in Its Writing

  • Benoit Éthier,
  • Christian Coocoo,
  • Gérald Ottawa

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22


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The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Nation has for several years been developing a code of practice (orocowewin notcimik itatcihowin) to regulate hunting, fishing and plant harvesting activities in Nitaskinan, its ancestral territory. The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw code of practice is a collective project that sets out to put its territorial regulations in writing. The project's objective is threefold: to ensure the transmission of territorial knowledge and of rules relating to forest activities; to adapt these rules, passed on by ancestors, to the contemporary context; and to have them recognised by non-natives and the governments of other nations, including the governments of Canada and Quebec. This article presents some of the issues related to the process of writing and coding orocowewin notcimik itatcihowin, the Atikamekw Nehirowisiw code of practice; in particular, the importance of the oral tradition as a means of transmitting knowledge is emphasised. In our language, we say "atisokana ki atisokan" – we are infused and transformed by the narratives transmitted orally. This mode of transmission is politically, philosophically and emotionally significant. It is a unique way for us to let the heart speak, through direct contact, without interference.