Council of Atikamekw of Manawan – Returning to Spirit

Bridging the Divide with Returning to Spirit Workshops

Reconciliation isn’t something that can be done alone. It takes people coming together with an intent to learn and understand.

The Council of Atikamekw of Manawan recognizes the need for more context around the impact of residential schools and says its necessary to break intergenerational cycles and racist mentalities in their communities and surrounding areas. 

The Council is the political and administrative organization for the 3000 members of the Atikamekw Nation located in the upper Saint-Maurice River valley of Quebec. It manages health, education and community services and programs. 

A workshop series by the Indigenous-led, non-profit, Returning to Spirit organization appealed to the Council because it included bringing Indigenous members, non-Indigenous people and the Church together.  

Over the course of two, four-day intensive workshops participants develop insights and discover how previously held behaviours, judgments, assumptions or perceptions have kept them stuck in a disempowering story.

Growth through understanding

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) knows it is crucial to move away from vague notions and make reconciliation tangible and real for all people. The workshop series included small, actionable steps and communication skill-building to help participants share, listen and process. The intergenerational effects of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse experienced by residential school survivors were explored in the context of the Indigenous and colonial experience. 

IRF’s support covered the costs of the programming as well as travel expenses, meals, lodging and room rentals. The Council of Atikamekw of Manawan believes the exposure and skills developed can help repair relationships and lessen the divide in their area.


The region of Manawan includes many people who attended residential schools. Bringing trauma-informed supports and programs like Returning to Spirit have the potential to build communities up in a positive and reconciliatory way. 

For more information on the history and resources offered through the Council of Atikamekw of Manawan, you can visit its website

Diocese of Joliette