Friday, November 7, 2014

Press Release: Algonquins ready to act to implement co-management plan

We will not be ignored”: Algonquins of Barriere Lake endure 8 years of inaction on Quebec-Algonquin co-management plan, ready to act

Kitiganik (Rapid Lake Reserve), Quebec – Eight years ago, in 2006, two former Quebec Liberal Cabinet Ministers put forth joint recommendations to the Quebec Government that laid out a vision we endorsed of resource revenue sharing and co-management on our unceded Algonquin lands.

The “Ciaccia-Lincoln Recommendations” were designed to resolve the conflict generated between our community, the province, and industry concerning the unsustainable resource exploitation of our traditional territory and to deal with outstanding concerns regarding basic infrastructure on our reserve.

These Recommendations are the culmination of a research and negotiation process established by a Trilateral Agreement, signed in 1991, between our band, Quebec, and Canada. The Trilateral Agreement was meant to give us a decisive say over land and resource use on 10,000 square kilometers of our ancestral lands. Canada pulled funding from the groundbreaking resource co-management project and it stalled before the measures we developed to harmonize land use with industry and governments could be successfully implemented. A Bilateral Agreement was signed in 1998 between Barriere Lake and Quebec to move forward with the resource co-management plan and address other urgent infrastructure needs. It also failed to deliver promised results.

The “Ciaccia-Lincoln Recommendations” were developed by two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers and they can restore relations and lead to the implementation of our cutting-edge co-management plans, which are based on hundreds of hours of Algonquin cultural and socio-economic research.

Four weeks ago Barriere Lake Chief Casey Ratt sent a letter to Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard and Quebec Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Geoffrey Kelly regarding the failures of Quebec to implement the Ciaccia-Lincoln Recommendations, jeopardizing the status of forestry operations within the Trilateral Agreement Territory. We have been met with a stony silence.

“We see these Agreements as the framework for negotiating improvements to the current poor socio-economic conditions within our community, as well as, the future of our Algonquin Peoples. We will not be satisfied until an Agreement to implement the Ciaccia-Lincoln Recommendations is achieved in the interim and our Aboriginal Rights and Title is explicitly recognized by the governments of Canada and Quebec as quickly as possible,” said Chief Casey Ratt.

Band Councillor Norman Matchewan states, “We will not be ignored. The Tsilhqot’in decision affirmed our underlying jurisdiction to these lands. We have never backed down from a fight to protect our rights and we are not about to start doing so now.”

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Contact spokespeople:

Chief Casey Ratt: 819-441-8002

Michel Thusky, Community Elder (French and English Speaking): 819-334-4099 or 819-435-2171

Tony Wawatie, Interim Director-General: 819-355-3662

Norman Matchewan: 819-441-8006 

*** For further background on Barriere Lake’s Aboriginal Rights and Title and the Agreements signed with the federal and provincial governments, see attached brief presented to Douglas Eyford, Special Federal Representative appointed to conduct consultation on the interim Comprehensive Land Claims policy, which Barriere Lake has firmly rejected for reasons stated in the brief.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Press Release: Re-Elected Chief and Council to Negotiate with Quebec on Implementation of Landmark Co-Management/Revenue Sharing Agreements


(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/August 14, 2014) Following an election which took place on August 9, 2014, Chief Casey Ratt of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake made this statement: "On my behalf and on behalf of the Council of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, I would like to express our thanks to all those who took part in the election. l would like to also express our appreciation for the vote of confidence shown in the renewed mandate given to the members of the Council and myself. This vote of confidence will prove an important help in the resumption of our Trilateral negotiations with the Quebec and Federal Governments."

The Quebec Government has committed itself to restart negotiations on the seven Ciaccia/Lincoln Recommendations of the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral Agreements as soon as possible following the August 9th election. Chief Ratt added: ’’I had a recent conversation with the Quebec Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, in which he confirmed his intention to proceed with meaningful negotiations on the seven outstanding Recommendations. This is most important to us, as it is essential for our future that a permanent regime of sustainable development be implemented in the spirit and according to the provisions of the 1991 Trilateral Agreement’’.

This would include, in the key forestry sector, a permanent regime of previously discussed of green, yellow and red zones, to replace the present unsatisfactory, contentious and time-consuming interim system of Measures to Harmonize forestry operations with our traditional way of life.

Chief Ratt concluded by saying "our intention has always been to work in cooperation and harmony with stakeholders on our ancestral Territory, as recognized in the 1991 Trilateral Agreement. However, it is essential that our interests and the integrity of our Territory be protected into the long term, and that we get our rightful share in the sustainable co-management of our resources and the economic and other benefits that come from it."

The Barriere Lake Chief and Council will be meeting with community members who are currently protesting forestry operations within the Trilateral Agreement Territory, to address their concerns within the framework of the Trilateral Agreement and the measures to harmonize process.

The Chief and Council will also be meeting with representatives of the affected forestry companies and the government of Quebec in an effort to peacefully resolve the dispute.



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For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt Cell: (819) 441-8002

Norman Matchewan, Councillor Cell: (819) 441-8006

Tony Wawatie, Spokesperson Cell: (819) 355-3662, Telephone: (819) 435-2181

Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171

Monday, July 28, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Algonquins View Tsilhquot’in Decision as Confirmation of Aboriginal Title Over Lands Covered by Territorial Management Agreements with Canada and Quebec



PRESS RELEASE

Algonquins View Tsilhquot’in Decision as Confirmation of Aboriginal Title Over Lands Covered by Territorial Management Agreements with Canada and Quebec

(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/July 28, 2014) On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada issued the Tsilhqot’in decision recognizing the Aboriginal Title of the Tsilhqot’in Nation over a large part of their traditional territory. In that decision Canada’s highest court also set out a framework for the establishment of Aboriginal Title in Canada. 

Former Barriere Lake Customary Chief Jean Maurice Matchewan stated “I negotiated and signed the 1991 Trilateral Agreement on behalf of our community to ensure our traditional territory—where we have lived for thousands of years—was managed in a sustainable way based upon conservation of natural resources and protection of our way of life. We did not agree, and still do not agree with Canada’s current Comprehensive Land Claims Policy, which would require us to extinguish our Aboriginal Title and Rights. The Trilateral Agreement, was an alternative to Canada’s unjust land claims policy. We now know our community meets the legal tests in the Tsilhqot’in decision for proof of Aboriginal Title and that the territorial management agreements we signed with Canada and Quebec in 1991 and 1998, as well as, the studies conducted under these agreements are now part of the proof of our Aboriginal Title and Rights over the Trilateral Agreement Territory.”

Chief Casey Ratt of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake stated “The Tsilhqot’in case confirms our community’s decision to enter into Territorial Management Agreements with Canada and Quebec were part of their duty to consult and accommodate our community regarding our Aboriginal Rights and Title. We fully expect Canada and Quebec to display this ‘honour of the Crown’ we hear about but never see, by these governments honouring the spirit and terms of the 1991 and 1998 Agreements by negotiating an Agreement with our community to implement the Joint Recommendations of former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, John Ciaccia and Clifford Lincoln.”

Mr. Clifford Lincoln, Special Representative and negotiator for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake concluded by stating “it has been over eight years since Mr. Ciaccia and I submitted our joint recommendations to the Quebec Cabinet and I attribute much of the community’s inner turmoil over leadership to the delays in negotiating an Agreement to implement our joint recommendations. Quebec has continued to authorize logging and other development activities within the Trilateral Agreement Territory that negatively impact on the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and their way of life yet the Algonquins receive no benefits and are not involved in resource management decision-making as contemplated by the Agreements they signed with the federal and Quebec governments. In light of the Tsilhqot’in decision the Quebec government should move quickly to concretely signal their intention to negotiate an agreement to implement the joint recommendations Mr. Ciaccia and I submitted over eight years ago.”

Last year, Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources—without meaningfully consulting the Algonquins of Barriere Lake—issued permits for the 2013-14 operating year to Resolute Forest Products and other large logging companies who subsequently clear-cut vast tracts of the forest last summer and fall, up to when the Algonquins stopped the unauthorized logging, which has been taking place in violation of the 1991 and 1998 signed Agreements with the First Nation. 

Resolute Forest Products and other logging companies have already damaged many sensitive area sites on the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement Territory, including sensitive area sites which the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and the logging companies know to be of particular cultural and ecological importance. 

The Algonquins along with Quebec have re-established a measures to harmonize process to identify and protect cultural and ecological sites. The Quebec Government has now committed itself to restart negotiations with the ABL with the objective of implementing the seven recommendations of the Ciaccia-Lincoln report. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake intend to ensure these negotiations are started without delay after the elections of August 9, 2014. 


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For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt Cell: (819) 441-8002
Norman Matchewan, Councillor Cell: (819) 441-8006
Tony Wawatie, Spokesperson Cell: (819) 355-3662
Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171

For Background information on 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral Agreementshttp://bit.ly/1tRhZ9z

Sunday, March 23, 2014

HONOUR YOUR WORD: Premiere of Barriere Lake documentary

Standing Ovation of Hundreds for Mitchikanibikok Inik Land Defenders (Montréal)

On February 10th Cinema Politica Concordia screened Martha Stiegman's new doc, HONOUR YOUR WORD (produced by the wonderful folks at Productions Multi-monde), "an intimate portrait of life behind the barricades for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, an inspiring First Nation whose dignity and courage contrast sharply with the political injustice they face."
Stiegman's film provides a very personal look at community and resistance, ultimately confronting mainstream media coverage and challenging settler apathy. The one-hour doc is a must-see for anyone interested in social justice, indigenous culture, and Canada's legacy of genocide, colonization and continued settler oppression. The lensing of this important work always comes across as profoundly patient, and the direction always concerned with the ways in which people embody both oppression and the power to resist.
Documentary by Martha Stiegman


Honour Your Word is an intimate portrait of life behind the barricades for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, an inspiring First Nation whose dignity and courage contrast sharply with material poverty and political injustice they face. 
The title refers to their campaign slogan demanding Canada and Quebec honour a precedent-setting conservation deal signed in 1991. Director, Martha Stiegman, spent four years shooting this poetic, heartfelt documentary that challenges stereotypes of "angry Indians." Honour Your Word juxtaposes starkly contrasting landscapes—the majesty of the bush, a dramatic highway stand-off against a riot squad, daily life within the confines of the reserve—to reveal the spirit of a people for whom blockading has become an unfortunate part of their way of life, a life rooted in the piece of Boreal Forest they are defending.

The film draws us into the lives of two young leaders: Marylynn Poucachice, a mother of five, and Norman Matchewan, the soft-spoken son and grandson of traditional chiefs. Both spent their childhoods on the logging blockades their parents set up to win a sustainable development plan protecting their land. But it turns out signing the agreement was the easy part. Now, 20 years later, Norman and Marylynn are taking up the struggle of their youth, to force Canada and Quebec to honour their word.

Their fight may be an impossible one, but as we spend time with Marylynn, Norman and the community they are so deeply a part of, we grow to identify with the impulse driving a struggle that spans generations. We learn why for people here, standing up is a necessity, not a choice - and what compels them to do so, despite the odds.

The film draws us into the lives of two young leaders: Marylynn Poucachice, a mother of five, and Norman Matchewan, the soft-spoken son and grandson of traditional chiefs. Both spent their childhoods on the logging blockades their parents set up to win a sustainable development plan protecting their land. But it turns out signing the agreement was the easy part. Now, 20 years later, Norman and Marylynn are taking up the struggle of their youth, to force Canada and Quebec to honour their word.

Their fight may be an impossible one, but as we spend time with Marylynn, Norman and the community they are so deeply a part of, we grow to identify with the impulse driving a struggle that spans generations. We learn why for people here, standing up is a necessity, not a choice - and what compels them to do so, despite the odds.


Link with more information on the premiere, as part of the Cinema Politica series. 

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Ottawa Premiere: April 22 2014



















The director and Marylynn Poucachiche, community activist featured in the film