Thursday, December 25, 2008

Action Alert

NATIVE RIGHTS UNDER LOCK & KEY: Rallies to support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and jailed Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway

OTTAWA
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WEDNESDAY, January 7th, 2008, NOON
WHERE: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Corner of Wellington and Montcalm in GATINEAU
MARCH to the Gatineau Detention Centre, 75 Rue St. Francois
Click HERE FOR A MAP
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MONTREAL
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THURSDAY, January 8, 2008, NOON
In front of Jean Charest's office
corner of McGill College & Sherbrooke
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* Bring banners, signs, placards, noise-makers...

**Hot chocolate and snacks will be served at both rallies.

For more information, click here

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Send a letter to Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway

Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway is being held in jail for 45 days, not counting 2 weeks in pre-trial detention, for peacefully protesting on highway 117 in attempts to have Barriere Lake's signed agreements honoured and for the Canadian government to respect Barriere Lake's Customary Governance.

This is part of a larger and disturbing trend in Canada, where indigenous leadership are being jailed for standing up for their constitutionally-recognized Aboriginal rights. In Ontario, both KI6 and Bob Lovelace were jailed for peaceful protest for several months. A decision that was overturned in the court of appeal.

To send Benjamin a letter of support:

Benjamin Nottaway
Hull Detention Centre
P-6, D-3
75 Rue St. Francois
Hull, Quebec J9A 1B4

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blockade leader says he's a 'political prisoner'

JOE FRIESEN
GLOBE AND MAIL
December 15, 2008
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20081215.NATIVES15/TPStory/National

Speaking from a jail cell, deposed native leader Benjamin Nottaway says he is a political prisoner, targeted for his outspoken opposition to the
governments of Canada and Quebec.

He is the latest casualty of a power struggle that has included
allegations of a political coup, fire bombings and several interventions
by riot police.

It reads like a tale ripped from the headlines of a war-torn dictatorship.
Instead, it's the story of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, a Quebec
community of 450 people three hours north of Ottawa.

Mr. Nottaway, imprisoned for 45 days for leading a highway blockade, says that although he misses his children, he is being treated with respect in jail, where fellow inmates refer to him deferentially as the "chief." But
the question of who actually is the chief of Barriere Lake is far from
clear.

Mr. Nottaway alleges that he was deposed by an ambitious group of plotters led by Casey Ratt, who launched what Nottaway supporters call an "administrative coup d'état" this year and installed themselves as the
band government.

He calls Mr. Ratt a "puppet" and a "government agent," propped up by
officials in Ottawa and Quebec City who see him as a soft touch when it
comes to defending aboriginal land title and resource rights.

Mr. Ratt laughs at these suggestions, and says there is no leadership
crisis in Barriere Lake, save for the grumblings of those who have lost
their grip on power and have enlisted non-native activists to push their
case in the news media.

He says he came to power in January after a three-month leadership review, which he launched because he was upset that Mr. Nottaway's group had closed the band school, a move he perceived as motivated by their own political aims.

"It's no good for our kids to use them as political pawns," Mr. Ratt says.
"A lot of people didn't agree with those tactics."

After Mr. Ratt was declared chief, his opponents said he had hijacked the
traditional selection process and tried to push him off the reserve. His
house burned down in suspicious circumstances, he says, as did the band
office.

"But I'm still in the community," he says. "It's a steady struggle."

Barriere Lake does not elect leaders according to the one-member, one-vote system set out in the Indian Act, but instead uses a selection system led by a council of elders. The federal government says it has no role in adjudicating that system, but has acknowledged the election of Mr. Ratt's group and says it will conduct business with his council.

After several escalating protests against Mr. Ratt's government, the
Nottaway group blockaded Highway 117 twice in recent months. In October,
riot police were sent in by the provincial police force and were accused
of using violent tactics to disperse the protesters. In November, Mr.
Nottaway and four other prominent political opponents of Mr. Ratt were
arrested by riot police for staging another highway blockade, which they
called a tactic of last resort. They were asking the federal government to
appoint an independent observer to oversee a new leadership selection.

"When I was in court my lawyer told me, 'The Crown wants you to suffer,
they want you to feel the pain.' They asked for 12 months, but I got 45
days," Mr. Nottaway says. "I'm a political prisoner, and they know that.
It's all politically motivated."

The people of Barriere Lake have never signed a treaty with Canada, and
they say they have never received a fair share, or had a say, in the
resource revenue extracted from their traditional territory, which they
estimate at $100-million a year. For its part, the community suffers
crippling unemployment and is not connected to the power grid, so it runs
on diesel generators.

Mr. Ratt says he wants to put the power struggle behind him and work
toward finding both short- and long-term solutions for his community.

Mr. Nottaway says he can't allow the band to be led by a chief he
considers illegitimate. His goal is to see a 1991 trilateral agreement on
resource management honoured by the province and the federal government.

"The government imposed a minority faction on our community," he says.
"That's not what we want and we're never going to accept it. Even though
I'm in here, we're not going to stop fighting."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quebec judge imprisons Algonquin Chief for two months for peaceful protest: Crown asks for one year to send "clear message" to impoverished community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quebec judge imprisons Algonquin Chief for two months for peaceful protest: Crown asks for one year to send "clear message" to impoverished community


Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - On Thursday December 4th a Quebec judge sentenced Barriere Lake Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway to forty-five days in jail, in addition to fifteen already served in pre-trial detention, for participating in peaceful blockades intended to draw attention to violations of Barriere Lake's rights by the Canadian and Quebec governments.

Barriere Lake has been demanding that Canada and Quebec honour signed agreements and that Canada appoint an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in accordance with Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code.

"It's shameful that the government of Quebec would rather throw me in jail than fulfill their legal obligations by implementing signed agreements," said Acting Chief Nottaway, a father of six who passed his twenty-eighth birthday in jail last Thursday. "Meanwhile, the Government of Canada continues to interfere in our internal affairs while trying to wash its hands of responsibility for this situation."

Nottaway was charged with three counts of mischief and breach of conditions stemming from March blockades on Barriere Lake's access road and a November blockade on highway 117 outside the community's reserve in Northern Quebec. Another blockade in October was violently dismantled by Quebec riot police, who used tear-gas on a crowd that included Elders, youth, and children. More than 40 members of the community of 450 have been charged for these actions.

"Quebec has now joined the company of Ontario, which put the leaders of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation behind bars for peaceful protest. It seems like the provinces' preferred method for dealing with our rights is to use the police and the courts to punish us until we forget about them," said Marylynn Poucachiche, a community spokesperson who was arrested during the November blockade.

Crown Attorney France Deschamps asked Judge Jules Barriere for a sentence of 12 months, saying a "clear message" was required "to make sure Nottaway has no desire to do this again, and to discourage the group – because his supporters are waiting to hear what happens here." Judge Barriere noted that the Crown's request was "partly illegal," as 6 months is the maximum possible sentence for summary convictions. But he agreed with Deschamps that a prison sentence was necessary, saying it was "important to pass a clear message to the community."

"The only message the Canadian and Quebec governments are sending is that they are willing to criminalize our community and split apart our families in order to avoid implementing precedent-setting agreements and respecting our leadership customs," added Nottaway.

Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral agreement in 1998, but has stalled despite the 2006 recommendations of two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, that the agreement be implemented.

On March 10th, 2008, the Canadian government rescinded recognition of Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council and recognized individuals from a minority faction whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council says were not selected in accordance with their Customary Governance Code. On March 2nd and 3rd, community members had set up blockades on their access road to prevent members of this minority faction from entering the reservation, anticipating the Canadian government would try to illegally interfere in Barriere Lake's internal customary governance for the third time in 12 years.

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court Judge Rejean Paul issued a report that concluded that the current faction recognized by the federal government was a "small minority" that "didn't respect the Customary Governance Code" in an alleged leadership selection in 2006 [1]. The federal government recognized this minority faction after they conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, even though an observer's report the government relied on stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected [2].

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council.

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Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2171

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 - 435 - 2113


Notes

[1] http://web.resist.ca/~barrierelakesolidarity/resources/Rapport_du_Juge_Paul-versionANGLAISEcomplete.doc, pg 26-27


[2] http://web.resist.ca/~barrierelakesolidarity/resources/Riel_Translation_Letter_2.doc , pg 2

MEDIA ADVISORY: CHIEFS OF ONTARIO EXPRESS DISAPROVAL OF QUEBEC IMPRISONMENT OF BARRIERE LAKE LEADER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2008


CHIEFS OF ONTARIO EXPRESS DISAPROVAL OF QUEBEC IMPRISONMENT OF BARRIERE LAKE LEADER

OTTAWA— Earlier this fall Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, on behalf of First Nations in Ontario, communicated by letter to Premier Jean Charest and Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the use of force against peaceful civil protestors was contrary to the goal of reconciliation between First Nations peoples and federal and provincial governments. In addition, at a gathering of the Chiefs in Assembly in November, First Nations leadership again expressed their concern regarding the use of force against the same protestors.

On the same day that the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal of a decision earlier this year by the Ontario Court of Appeal concerning the ordered release of aboriginal leaders from jail for their actions in asserting their rights, it was reported that a First Nation leader from Barrier Lake was sentenced to a 45 day jail term for his actions for asserting the rights of his people.

"All Ontarians know that the use of force and imprisonment against First Nations people involved in the assertion of constitutional rights situations is unacceptable," says Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. "We have learned this through the Ipperwash Inquiry and its recommendations and through the court proceedings involving aboriginal leadership in Ontario. The Ontario government learned this and it appears the federal and Quebec governments must also learn this."

Regional Chief Toulouse is calling on the government of Quebec to initiate proceedings leading to the release of jailed Barriere Lake leader Benjamin Nottaway. "All governments in Canada must understand that when First Nations communities assert their rights they are acting in accordance with the Rule of Law and the application of violence and imprisonment against people trying to assert their constitutional rights is contrary to the Rule of Law," says Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.

The Chiefs in Ontario, comprising the 133 First Nations in Ontario, is a political forum and secretariat for collective decision-making, action and advocacy.

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For more information, please contact:

Harmony Rice
Communications
Chiefs of Ontario

1-877-517-6527
416-576-9718
harmony@coo.org

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marylynn Poucachiche takes on Assistant Regional Director of Indian Affairs, Pierre Nepton, on Radio Canada International's The Link (Dec 8 2008). The interview starts half way through the file and lasts for 10 minutes.
Click here to listen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Green Party supports Mitchikanibikok Inik

Green Party of Canada is calling for an investigation into the infringement of the rights of the Mitchikanibikok Inik, also known as the Algonquin of Barriere Lake, particularly their right to peaceful assembly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Release: SQ riot squad arrest 5 Algonquins, including Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SQ riot squad arrest 5 Algonquins, including Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - SQ officers and a Riot Squad arrested five Barriere Lake Algonquins, including a targeted arrest of Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway, after forcing community members off highway 117, during their fourth in a series of blockades over a period of seven hours.

"Chief Nottaway sent a letter to Premier Charest on Monday requesting that the government resolve political issues through negotiations rather than police violence," said community spokesperson Norman Matchewan."Blockades are a tactic of last resort. For two decades now all we've asked is that Quebec and Canada honour signed agreements but they prefer to play with our lives."

As the community was pushed off the highway for the last time at 2:30 pm, riot police broke out of formation to chase and arrest Acting Chief Nottaway. His was the second targeted arrest of the day. Community youth spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche, mother of five and organizer of the community school, was arrested at one of the morning blockades after being reassured by police that no arrests would be made since protesters had agreed to leave peacefully.

One community member was pushed to the ground and kicked by several SQ officers before being arrested.

"The police dragged him with his head on the ground all the way to the police car," said one community member.

Another woman from the community fell while being pushed back onto the access road leading to the Barriere Lake reserve, and hit her head. She was subsequently arrested.

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Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2171, 514 - 831 - 6902

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 514 - 893 - 8283, 819 - 860 - 3860

Norman Young, Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat: 819 - 627 - 6869




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - The Barriere Lake Algonquins have blocked highway 117 by gathering in the middle of the road, after Quebec police dismantled their log blockades earlier in the day, and have now been put on notice that the Riot Police will arrive momentarily.

Community spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche has been arrested for obstruction and mischief and is currently detained.

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Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2171, 514 - 831 - 6902,

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson:514 - 893 - 8283, 819 - 860 - 3860

Norman Young, Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat: 819 - 627 - 6869

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

7AM - Algonquins BLOCKADE HWY 117 for a second time

Brief description: After exhausting all political avenues, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and many non-native supporters have just blockaded highway 117 for a second time. Last time the community, including Elders, youth and children, were met with a brutal police response. Riot cops used tear gas and pain compliance, instead of negotiators. The police response has drawn criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemaker Team. [ http://blip.tv/file/1391794 ]

They will maintain the peaceful blockade until both the Canadian and Quebec governments honour their signed agreements that would allow co-management of their traditional territory and resource revenue sharing, and until Canada respects their leadership customs by appointing an observer to witness a leadership selection in accordance with their Customary Governance Code, and in good faith recognize the outcome.

*On this page you will find: a link to photos of the action, quotes, media contacts, background resources, and the press release

Up-to-date photos of the blockade are available HERE


Quotes from Barriere Lake Algonquin Spokespeople:

Norman Matchewan, community youth spokesperson: "Instead of doing the dirty work of the federal government, Quebec should implement its agreements and immediately lobby the federal government to deal fairly with our community. Charest's brutal treatment of our community shows his government has absolutely no respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples, which should be an urgent matter of debate during the provincial election."

Marylynn Poucachiche, community spokesperson: "The federal government pretends this is simply an internal issue, but we can only resolve the situation if the federal government appoints an observer to witness a new leadership selection that is truly in accordance with our Customary Governance Code, promises to respect the outcome, and then stops interfering in our internal affairs."

Michel Thusky, community spokesperson: "To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council. In what amounts to a coup d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government too because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the 1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."


Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, a community teacher and part-time police officer who was racially slurred two weeks ago by the assistant of Conservative Minister Lawrence Cannon, the representative in Barriere Lake's riding of Pontiac: 819.435.2171 or 514.831.6902 (c)

Marylynn Poucaciche, community educator and youth representative for Barriere Lake on the Algonquin Tribal Council: 819.860.3860 (c) or 514.893.8283 (c)

Norman Young, Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat: 819.627.6869

Barriere Lake Algonquins' Demands

Resources:

Laurier Riel Report, part I - Riel witnessed the alleged leadership selection, whose result was recognized by Indian Affairs on March 10, 2008

Laurier Riel Report, part II

Federal MP, Lawrence Cannon's Message to the Community in Le Droit (22 September 2008)

Norman Matchewan's Response to Lawrence Cannon in Le Droit (26 September 2008)

Trilateral Agreement - discussed in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP)

2007 leadership report by Quebec Superior Court Rhejean Paul

Legal challenge of Federal Government's deposition of Barriere Lake's Customary Chief and Council

Assembly of First Nations briefing note - January 2008

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PRESS ADVISORY: Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 second time: demand Quebec and Canada respect agreements and Canada stop propping up illegitimate leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 in Northern Quebec a second time: despite fears of more police violence, community wants Quebec and Canada to respect agreements and Canada to end interference in leadership selection

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - This morning at 7:30am, Barriere Lake community members of all ages and their supporters once again peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside their reserve, demanding that Quebec and Canada send in negotiators rather than resort to police violence. During the Algonquin's first blockade on October 6th, 2008, Quebec police used tear gas and "pain compliance" techniques against a peaceful crowd that included Elders, youth, and children, arrested nine people, and hospitalized a Customary Councillor after hitting him in the chest with a tear-gas canister, drawing criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemakers Team. [ http://blip.tv/file/1391794 ]


The Algonquins promise to maintain the blockade until Canada and Quebec commit in writing to honour their agreements and Canada appoints an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere Lake in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"Instead of doing the dirty work of the federal government, Quebec should implement its agreements and immediately lobby the federal government to deal fairly with our community," said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson on-site at the blockade. "Charest's brutal treatment of our community shows his government has absolutely no respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples, which should be an urgent matter of debate during the provincial election."


Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral agreement in 1998, but has stalled since two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, made recommendations for the agreement's implementation in 2006.

"To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council," said Matchewan. "In what amounts to a coup d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the 1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."

In November 2007 the legitimate leadership of Barriere Lake had issued a ban on new forestry operations in the Trilateral Territory until Quebec implemented their agreements, but the province and forestry companies have used the leadership change as an opportunity to cut new logging roads [in preparation for logging operations] without permission from the legitimate Barriere Lake representatives.

On March 10th, 2008, for the third time in 12 years, the Government of Canada interfered in Barriere Lake's internal customary governance. They rescinded recognition of the Customary Chief and Council and recognized individuals whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council says were not selected in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"The federal government pretends this is simply an internal issue," says Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barriere Lake spokesperson on-site. "But we can only resolve the situation if the federal government appoints an observer to witness a new leadership selection that is truly in accordance with our Customary Governance Code, promises to respect the outcome, and then stops interfering in our internal affairs."

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court Judge Rejean Paul issued a report that concluded that the current faction recognized by the federal government was a "small minority" that "didn't respect the Customary Governance Code" in an alleged leadership selection in 2006 [2]. The federal government recognized this minority faction after they conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, even though an observer's report the government relied on stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected [3].

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council.

In Montreal at noon, supporters of Barriere Lake will rally in front of the office of Premier Jean Charest's at the southeast corner of McGill College and Sherbrooke.

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Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2171 or 514 - 831 - 6902

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 - 860 - 3860 or 514 - 893 - 8283

Norman Young, Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat: 819 - 627 - 6869


DEMONSTRATION IN SOLIDARITY WITH BARRIERE LAKE A CALL FOR SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT!

**************************************
WEDNESDAY, NOV 19, 2008, NOON
In front of Jean Charest's office
corner of McGill College & Sherbrooke
************************************
* bring banners, signs, placards, noise-makers...

Join Barriere Lake Solidarity in a demonstration to call on Premier Charest to STOP using riot police, tear gas and pain compliance and START honouring signed agreements with Barriere Lake Algonquins.

In early October, as a method of last resort, families from the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake blockaded highway 117 in northern Quebec, demanding that the Federal and Quebec governments uphold the agreements they signed with the community, and stop imposing illegitimate leadership on the community in order to avoid their responsibilities.

Norman Matchewan, community youth spokesperson says, "Both the federal and provincial governments have treated us with contempt, refusing to respect the agreements they've signed with us. We've exhausted all our political options, but they've ignored or dismissed our community, leaving us with no choice but to peacefully blockade the highway to force the government to deal fairly with us."

Instead of sending in negotiators, honouring signed agreements and sending an observer for their leadership re-selection, dozens of riot cops overran the families who were peacefully demonstrating. Riot cops surrounded the area, and launched tear gas canisters, one of which hit a disabled community member in the chest. Nine people, including an elder, a pregnant woman, and two minors, were arrested. Eight demonstrators remained locked down to concrete-filled barrels, but police used "pain compliance"--roughly, torture--to force them to let go, and be arrested.

There have been many outcries against the actions taken by Charest's government. Angus Toulouse, Ontario Regional Chief, in a letter to Charest on October 10th wrote, "the leadership of the First Nations of Ontario are very concerned regarding the approach taken by the SQ against the ABL…Resorting to aggressive police action is clearly regrettable and further does not address the root causes of this situation." Several European human rights organizations recently supported Barriere Lake's demands and condemned police actions taken against the community.


Barriere Lake's List of Demands:

1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.

2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.

3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.

4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.

5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.

6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs' treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.

7. That the Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-First Nation relations and the SQ's procedures during policing of First Nation communities.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Upcoming Events!

Taking Back the Airwaves: Support Community Radio!

*WHEN: Saturday, November 29th
*WHERE: Centre for Media Alternatives - 2033 St. Laurent
*COST: $5-10 or bring a RADIO

7pm - Film Screening: A Little Bit of So Much Truth (93 minutes, 2006)

9pm - Dance Party: featuring DJ Aaron Maiden & DJ Medja

Click HERE for more info.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DEFENDERS OF THE LAND GATHERING

For Immediate Release: November 12, 2008


MEDIA ADVISORY


WINNIPEG— Spokespeople from Indigenous communities involved in land struggles across Canada will issue a national challenge to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government's policies when Harper attends the Conservative Convention in Winnipeg this week, delivering a letter to Harper on Thursday at 6pm, and following up with a press conference on Friday at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.



Indigenous organizers, leaders and membership will be meeting in Winnipeg for the Defenders of the Land Gathering from November 12-14th, 2008 to share strategies and solutions for achieving land rights and self-determination.


The Defenders of the Land Gathering will feature special presentations by members from the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Six Nations, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Secwepemc First Nation, while many others will be in attendance.


The Defenders of the Land Gathering will focus on several key principles including recognition and respect for Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights; opposition to arbitrary, one-sided federal and provincial legislation, policies and practices that negatively affect Indigenous Peoples; stopping the environmental degradation of Indigenous lands; a fair and just interpretation of section 35 of Canada's constitution, including the elimination of the racist, outdated concepts of the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius; and the application of the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.


The Press Conference will be held:
Date: Friday November 14, 2008
Location: Winnipeg Convention Centre
Time: TBA

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For more information, please contact:
Courtney Kirkby 514.893.8283 (c)
Harmony Rice: 204.510.9899 (c)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Click here to listen to Canada: A Pariah State?, a lecture by Arthur Manuel at McGill University, November 3rd, 2008.


At the Defenders of the Land, on November 4th, community spokespeople, Marylynn Poucachiche and Norman Matchewan, Russell Diabo, policy advisor for Barriere Lake for the past two decades, and Arthur Manuel all spoke at the Native Friendship Centre in Montreal. Along with the presentation, a 12 minute film of the recent October blockade of highway 117, made by Martha Stiegman, was screened. It was an informative and emotional event for everyone, bringing both Marylynn and audience members to tears.

The speeches from the event are available here -- just click on the name of the speaker and download the file.

Russell Diabo (35 minutes)
Marylynn Poucachiche and Norman Matchewan (20 minutes)

Martha Stiegman's film:
Click HERE to view

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Barriere Lake T-Shirts

Barriere Lake Radio T-Shirts
Cost: $15-25
*Proceeds support Barriere Lake.

The image on the t-shirt is the sound wave file produced by someone saying: "Mitchikinabiko'inik Nodaktcigen", which translates roughly into "Radio Barriere Lake".


To order a shirt, email: barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

KINGSTON: Rolling Back a Coup d'Etat on Barriere Lake Algonquin Territory


Where: Watson Rm 217, Queen's University campus

When: 5:30pm on Thursday, December 4th

What: Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake community spokesperson, and Suzanne Decoursay, a volunteer teacher from Barriere Lake, speaking in Kingston in both Algonquin and English.
Film screening: Blockade on the 117 (12 mins, 2008) [http://blip.tv/file/1391794]
* Donations encourgaed. Food and drinks available

For more information click here


KINGSTON: Rolling Back a Coup d'Etat on Barriere Lake Algonquin Territory

Where: Watson Rm 217 on Queen's University campus
When: 5:30pm on Thursday, December 4th
What: Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake community spokesperson, and Suzanne Decoursay, a volunteer teacher from Barriere Lake, speaking in Kingston in both Algonquin and English.
Film screening: Blockade on the 117 (12 mins, 2008) [http://blip.tv/file/1391794]
* Donations encourgaed. Food and drinks available

After exhausting all political avenues, on October 6th and recently on November 19th the Algonquins of Barriere Lake blockaded Highway 117 in northern Quebec. They were demanding the Canadian and Quebec governments honour their signed agreements, for co-management of their traditional territory and resource revenue sharing, and that Canada undo the coup d'etat by sending in an observer to oversee their Customary governance selection process. Both times, the community, including Elders, youth and children, were met with a brutal police responsee -- riot cops kicked, pushed, drew a handgun and used tear gas and pain compliance -- instead of negotiators. [ http://blip.tv/file/1391794 ]

On December 4th a caravan of community members and a few Montreal supporters will be hitting the road to visit First Nations communities facing similar struggles: sovereignty, Aboriginal rights and title, and defending their lands from excessive resource extraction. Kingston will be the first stop. Come join us!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

OTTAWA & MONTREAL RALLIES

*ACTION ALERT*


NATIVE RIGHTS UNDER LOCK & KEY: Rallies to support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and jailed Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway

OTTAWA
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WEDNESDAY, January 7th, 2008, NOON
WHERE: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Corner of Wellington and Montcalm in GATINEAU
MARCH to the Gatineau Detention Centre, 75 Rue St. Francois
Click HERE FOR A MAP
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MONTREAL
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THURSDAY, January 8, 2008, NOON
In front of Jean Charest's office
corner of McGill College & Sherbrooke
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WED, JAN 7th: Join us in Ottawa in front of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for speeches by Barriere Lake spokespeople, Elizabeth May of the Green Party, NDP parliamentarians, representatives from the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, formerly jailed leadership from Ardoch First Nation, and others. Then march to the Hull Detention Centre, where Benjamin Nottaway, the 28-year old Acting Chief of Barriere Lake and father of six, will be spending the holidays.

THURS, JAN 8th: Join us in Montreal in front of Jean Charest's office.

* Bring banners, signs, placards, noise-makers...
**Hot chocolate and snacks will be served at both rallies.

Benjamin Nottaway, the 28-year old Customary Chief of Barriere Lake and father of six, will be spending the holidays in jail. He is a political prisoner of the governments of Quebec and Canada, who would rather jail an Indigenous leader for peaceful protest than honour landmark agreements and respect a community's customary leadership selection process.





BACKGROUND:

Nottaway's imprisonment for two months is only the latest chapter in the long and difficult struggle of Barriere Lake, a small Algonquin community three hours north of Ottawa in Northern Quebec. Seeing their forests devastated by clear-cut logging, they compelled Canada and Quebec to sign an internationally praised sustainable development agreement in 1991. The agreement was intended to give them joint management of 10,000 square kilometres of their traditional territory and benefits from the resource extraction on their land – $100 million is taken annually in logging, hydro-electricity, recreational hunting and tourism, and they have never received a cent.

But the Canadian government pulled out of the binding agreement in 2001, and Quebec has stalled on its implementation since 2006, despite recommendations issued by provincial and community negotiators. To avoid their obligations under these agreements, the federal Department of Indian Affairs has repeatedly interfered in the internal governance of the community, which selects their leaders according to a customary method. In March, the Canadian government ousted Chief Nottaway and his Council and recognized a faction not supported by the community's majority and whom the Elder's Council says were not legitimately selected. Since then, Barriere Lake has mounted a campaign to have the Quebec and Canadians governments honour their agreements and for the federal government to resolve the leadership crisis by appointing an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a legitimate leadership re-selection.

Their political appeals ignored or dismissed, community members of all ages peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside their reserve in October and November. They asked for federal and provincial negotiators, but on both occasions the Canadian government washed its hands of responsibility while Quebec sent in riot squads, which brutally dismantled the blockades. In October they used tear-gas on a crowd that included Elders, youth, and children, and hospitalized a band councilor with tear-gas neck burns, and the following month they made targeted arrests of community spokespeople and Customary Chief Nottaway. More than 40 people in the community of 450 have received serious criminal charges for the peaceful political protest. (To view the video, click here.)

In court in early December, the Crown asked the provincial Judge "to send a clear message to the community," and the Judge complied. "When I was in court my lawyer told me, 'The Crown wants you to suffer, they want you to feel the pain.' They asked for 12 months, but I got 45 days," said Nottaway in an interview with the Globe and Mail. "I'm a political prisoner, and they know that. It's all politically motivated." (To read the entire article click here.)

The only message the government of Canada is sending is that they are willing to play with the lives of Indigenous people to avoid implementing precedent-setting agreements.

Join Barriere Lake community members in Ottawa while they demand that the Canadian government live up to its promises, respect the Algonquin's customary government, and stop collaborating with Quebec in the criminalization of an entire community and its leadership.

Respect signed agreements! Release all First Nations political prisoners!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Green Party supports Mitchikanibikok Inik

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2008

Montreal/-
The Green Party of Canada is calling for an investigation into the infringement of the rights of the Mitchikanibikok Inik, also known as the Algonquin of Barriere Lake, particularly their right to peaceful assembly. There have been reports this week of tear gas and police violence during a protest at this First Nation, involving a crowd which included Elders and children.

The protest was to draw attention to the failure of government to honour the 1991 Tri-lateral Agreement and the 1998 Bi-lateral agreement signed with Canada and Quebec. The recommendations of these agreements are meant to protect Algonquin land uses, including conservation of forest and wildlife, and also improve these peoples dire economic situation.

"It is not enough to apologize to Canada's First Nation's, they need help in a real way to address the continually deteriorating conditions on reserves and support to realize true self-government," said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

In 1989, Ms. May worked to help set up the office for the Trilateral Commission on behalf of this First Nation along with former MP and former Quebec Environment Minister the Honourable Clifford Lincoln. "The Algonquin of Barriere Lake have shown extraordinary patience in the face of governmental interference and foot-dragging," said Ms. May.


-30-

John Bennett
Director of Communications
Green Party of Canada
Phone: 613 562-4916 ext. 230
Cell: 613 291 6888
Fax: 613 482-4632

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pain Compliance as Indigenous Relations

Inside the Barriere Lake Algonquins' blockade of highway 117

by Dru Oja Jay

Posted originally in The Dominion

I'm perched on an embankment overlooking Highway 117, an obscure but economically important link between Montreal and northern Quebec. To look at most maps, there's nothing here, five hours north of Montreal, well out of the cottage towns and ski resorts of the Laurentians and still two hours short of the cluster of resource extraction economies around Val d'Or. I'm in the middle of a four hour stretch where most travellers could be forgiven for thinking was nothing but a few hunting lodges, logging roads and Hydro Quebec turnouts.

A girl, young enough that I have to bend down to hear what she's saying, climbs up the embankment and points at the highway.

"Look where we're colouring," she says.

I look. In the middle of the highway... read more

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ontario Chiefs to Harper, Charest

Ontario chiefs criticize Quebec police action in blockade

Jorge Barrera , Canwest News Service

http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=b85c4323-7f28-4506-985f-7e2e3fa2dd79

Published: Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Ontario chiefs organization has sent letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest condemning the actions of the Surete du Quebec for using force to clear an Algonquin blockade Monday in northern Quebec.

The letters, dated Oct. 10, calls on Ottawa and Quebec City to follow the advice of the Ipperwash Inquiry, which probed the events of a First Nations occupation in Ontario that led to the shooting death of Dudley George, a native protester shot dead by an OPP officer.

"The leadership of the First Nations of Ontario are very concerned regarding the approach taken by the Surete du Quebec against the Algonquins of Barriere Lake," said the letter, signed by Angus Toulouse, Ontario regional chief with the Chiefs of Ontario. "Resorting to aggressive police action is clearly regrettable and further does not address the root causes of this situation."

Toulouse said Ottawa and Quebec City should open talks with the poverty-stricken community of about 650, which is currently embroiled in a leadership dispute.

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, an umbrella group that represents the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, also criticized police action in a letter to Charest dated Oct. 8.

The Algonquins said a three-year-old girl was hit by a tear-gas canister fired by police during the blockade. They also accused the police of attacking elderly demonstrators.

The SQ said police fired canisters containing a chemical irritant, not tear gas, at the crowd and that paramedics said that no one was injured.

Nine people were arrested and charged with mischief.

The blockade, set up about 300 kilometres north of Ottawa, was organized by a portion of the community in an attempt to pressure the Department of Indian Affairs into backing a new leadership selection process. The group, led by former acting chief Benjamin Nottaway, says current Chief Casey Ratt took power through a flawed process.

The community follows a traditional leadership code.

Nottaway's supporters also want Indian Affairs to honour a signed deal giving the community a say over the development of 10,000 square kilometres of their claimed territory.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Upcoming Events!

MONTREAL

Canada: A Pariah State?
Indigenous Rights in Domestic and International Law: A Lecture by Arthur Manuel


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MONDAY, November 3rd, 6:30pm
McGill Faculty of Law, Moot Court
1st floor of New Chancellor Day Hall
3644 Peel Street
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Defenders of the Land:
The Barriere Lake Struggle Continues


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TUESDAY, November 4th, 6:00pm
Native Friendship Centre
2001 St. Laurent (northeast corner of Ontario Street)
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barriere Lake is taking back the airwaves...


The Barriere Lake Algonquin community, with support from the Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective, is in the process of starting up a 15 watt FM radio station: Mitchikinabiko’inik Nodaktcigen (Radio Barriere Lake) on the Rapid Lake Reserve. The primary aim of the project is to serve the Barriere Lake community, with the intention of strengthening autonomy, culture and traditions.

Broadcasts will be educational, cultural and primarily in the Algonquin language, which is still widely spoken in the community. Broadcasters will combine the oral tradition with radio and computer technologies to engage both elders and youth, while connecting with other Native communities from coast-to-coast.

Support Community Radio!

The community and the Barriere Lake Solidarity collective are working to raise the $3,000 needed to get the project off the ground. We are looking for donations, radios and radio station equipment. If you can give any of the aforementioned items, please email barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com or call 514.893.8283 -- we'd love to hear from you.

Come out to our radio fundraisers.

Cinema Politica, RIDM and Barriere Lake Solidarity present:

A free film screening of NO MORE SMOKE SIGNALS (90 minutes, 2008)

* WHEN: Monday November 17 @ 7:30pm
* WHERE: Room H-110, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve
* COST: Free or by donation at the door
Click HERE for more information!

***********************************************************

Taking Back the Airwaves: Support Community Radio!

*WHEN: Saturday, November 29th
*WHERE: Centre for Media Alternatives - 2033 St. Laurent
*COST: $5-10 or bring a RADIO

7pm - Film Screening: A Little Bit of So Much Truth (93 minutes, 2006)

9pm - Dance Party: featuring DJ Aaron Maiden & DJ Medja


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Montreal Gazette Op-Ed

Barrière Lake Indians set up blockage as last resort
It was the only way to get governments to listen to us, Algonquins say

NORMAN MATCHEWAN, Freelance
Published: Thursday, October 09

The Barrière Lake Algonquins' decision to peacefully blockade Highway 117 was not easily made. We have always preferred co-operation to confrontation. We do not wish to disrupt the lives of Canadians. Unfortunately, it seems their governments otherwise ignore or dismiss us - or worse, treat us with contempt.

During a protest at federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon's campaign launch last month, his assistant insinuated that I was drinking. After the media scandal forced Cannon to hold a meeting we had been requesting for two years, he vilified our community's majority as "dissidents" in an op-ed in regional papers.

The government has now tried to add "criminals" to the charge. To avoid negotiations, the government allowed Monday's peaceful blockade to be dismantled by the Sûreté du Québec, which without provocation shot tear gas canisters into a crowd of youth and elders and used severe "pain compliance" to remove people clipped into lockbox barrels.

But the governments of Canada and Quebec have never been overly concerned with the rule of law in their dealings with Barrière Lake:

In 1991, Barrière Lake signed a historic trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to sustainably develop our traditional territories - a United Nations report called the plan an environmental "trailblazer." Yet in 1996, the federal government tried to hijack the agreement by replacing our legitimate chief and council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside.

We have always ruled ourselves according to custom, outside the electoral provisions of the Indian Act: Elders nominate eligible leaders who are then approved, by consensus if possible, in assemblies. Participation is open only to those who live in the community, speak our language, and have knowledge of and connection to the land. But in 1996, the Department of Indian Affairs encouraged this faction, located mainly off-reserve, to collect signatures for a petition; Indian Affairs then imposed this group on us, claiming our leadership customs had evolved into "selection by petition."

The was not the truth. In The Gazette, former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Michel Gratton issued a devastating rebuke: "This unilateral and sudden decision to dismiss and replace the existing chief and council goes against the grain of every democratic principle."

We suffered grievously for a year and a half. Although we barred the minority group from our community, they colluded with the government from Maniwaki. On the reserve, we were deprived of federal transfers for employment, education, social assistance, and electricity. We lived in the dark, educated our children as we could, and barely subsisted off bush food.

A resolution was finally achieved in 1997 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Réjean Paul and two federal facilitators, who restored our legitimate chief and council and renewed the trilateral agreement. To prevent future interference, they helped codify our leadership customs into a Customary Governance Code that the government promised to respect. This is our aboriginal right protected by the Canadian Constitution - the highest law in the land.

Even this proved little deterrent to further meddling. In 2001, the federal government pulled out of the trilateral agreement and started favouring certain community members opposed to our legitimate leadership. Paul mediated again in 2007, concluding that the opposition to our chief and council was "a small minority" whose leadership challenge "did not respect the Customary Governance Code."

But when this same minority group conducted another supposed leadership selection in January 2008, the federal government quickly recognized them. In court, we forced the government to release an observer's report they relied on: not surprisingly, the report stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected during this selection.

Yet again, the government is throwing democratic principles to the wind by ignoring our customs and the wishes of our people. And Cannon has the audacity to call the overwhelming majority of our community members "dissidents"!

To resolve the crisis, we are prepared to participate in a new leadership selection according to our Customary Governance Code. We ask only that the federal government appoint an observer and promise to recognize the result, and that they and the province honour our agreements.

We set up the blockades Monday morning as a last resort, to inspire in the government a changed attitude. Our good faith and patience and reasonable demands have so far been rewarded by broken promises, deceit, and deplorable interventions. Is this all we can expect?

Norman Matchewan is youth spokesperson for the Algonquins in Barrière Lake, which is 130 kilometres north of Maniwaki.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canada and Quebec use riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" on peaceful Algonquin families to avoid negotiations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, October, 7, 2008

Canada and Quebec use riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" on peaceful Algonquin families to avoid negotiations: 'pain compliance' perfect description of Conservative's aboriginal policy, say community spokespeople


*Click HERE for photos

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - Yesterday afternoon, the Conservative government and Quebec used riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" techniques to end a peaceful blockade erected by Algonquin families from Barriere Lake, rather than negotiate, as requested by the community. The blockade on Highway 117 in Northern Quebec began at 6:00am Monday, with nearly a hundred community members of all ages and their supporters promising to remain until Canada's Conservative government and Quebec honoured signed agreements and Barriere Lake's leadership customs. Around 4pm, nearly sixty Quebec officers and riot police encircled families after a meal and without warning launched tear gas canisters, one of which hit a child in the chest.

"Our demands are reasonable," said Norman Matchewan, a spokesperson who was racially slurred by Minister Lawrence Cannon's assistant earlier in the election. "We're only asking for the government to uphold the agreements they've signed and to stop illegally interfering in our customary governance. The message we've received today is that Stephen Harper and Jean Charest are unwilling to even play by their rules."

"We will not tolerate these brutal violations of our rights," added Matchewan. "Forestry operations will not be allowed on our Trilateral agreement territory, and we will be doing more non-violent direct action."

Nine people, including an elderly women, a pregnant woman, and two minors, were roughly arrested. While a line of police obscured the view of human rights observers from Christian Peacemaker Teams, officers used severe "pain compliance" techniques on protestors who had secured themselves to concrete-filled barrels, twisting arms, dislocating jaws, leaving them with bruised faces and trouble swallowing.

"In this election alone, the Conservatives have labelled us alcoholics and vilified our community's majority as "dissidents," said Michel Thusky, another community spokesperson, referring to an op-ed published by Minister Lawrence Cannon in regional newspapers. "Now they and Quebec have chosen violence over meeting their most basic obligations to our community. 'Pain compliance' is the perfect description of the Conservative government's aboriginal policies."

Barriere Lake community members had promised to maintain the blockade until the Government of Canada honoured the 1991 Trilateral agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. To end federal interference in their leadership customs, they wanted the Government of Canada to appoint observers to witness a leadership reselection according to their codified customary selection code, respect its outcome, and then cease interfering in their internal governance.

- 30 -
Media Contacts:

Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 - 435 - 2171

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson : 514 - 831 - 6902

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quebec police threaten to mass arrest peaceful Algonquin road blockaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quebec police threaten to mass arrest peaceful Algonquin road blockaders: Community determined to maintain blockade until Canada and Quebec honour their agreements and respect leadership customs

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - Families from the Barriere Lake First Nation in Northern Quebec set up a peaceful blockade at 6:00 am this morning, promising to maintain it until Canada and Quebec respect and implement widely praised agreements, and Canada appoints an observer to witness a leadership reselection in the community, and respects its outcome.

"We maintained a peaceful presence all day, but Canada and Quebec would now rather have the Quebec police arrest youth, elders and mothers, than deal in good faith with our community," said Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson, from the site of the blockade, as riot police from Montreal prepared to make arrests.

- 30 -

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson : 647 - 227 - 6696, 514 - 831 - 6902

Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 - 435 - 2171

For more information: www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com

Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117: Community loses patience with broken agreements and coup d'etat on Algonquin territory

Brief description: After exhausting all political avenues, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and many non-native supporters have just blockaded highway 117. They will maintain the peaceful blockade until both the Canadian and Quebec governments honour their signed agreements that would allow co-management of their traditional territory and resource revenue sharing, and until Canada respects their leadership customs by appointing an observer to witness a leadership selection in accordance with their Customary Governance, and in good faith recognize the outcome.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Christian Peacemaker Teams sends human rights observer team to Barriere Lake Algonquin Territory

*On this page you will find: a link to photos of the action, quotes, media contacts, background resources, and the press release


Up-to-date photos of the blockade are available HERE


Quotes from Barriere Lake Algonquin Spokespeople:


Michel Thusky, community spokesperson: "To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council. In what amounts to a coup d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government too because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the 1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."

Norman Matchewan, community youth spokesperson:
"The Conservative government, like the Liberal government before it, has treated us with contempt, refusing to respect the agreements they've signed with us. We've exhausted all our political options, but they've ignored or dismissed our community, leaving us with no choice but to peacefully blockade the highway to force the government to deal fairly with us."

Marylynn Poucachiche, community spokesperson: "The federal government pretends this is simply an internal issue. But we can only resolve the situation if the federal government appoints an observer to witness a new leadership selection that is truly in accordance with our Customary Governance Code, promises to respect the outcome, and then stops interfering in our internal affairs."

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, a community teacher and part-time police officer who was racially slurred two weeks ago by the assistant of Conservative Minister Lawrence Cannon, the representative in Barriere Lake's riding of Pontiac: 647 - 227 - 6699

Marylynn Poucaciche, community educator and youth representative for Barriere Lake on the Algonquin Tribal Council: 438 - 868 - 3957

Michel Thusky, residential school survivor and elder: 819 - 435-2171

Barriere Lake Algonquins' Demands

Resources:

Laurier Riel Report, part I - Riel witnessed the alleged leadership selection, whose result was recognized by Indian Affairs on March 10, 2008

Laurier Riel Report, part II

Federal MP, Lawrence Cannon's Message to the Community in Le Droit (22 September 2008)

Norman Matchewan's Response to Lawrence Cannon in Le Droit (26 September 2008)

Trilateral Agreement - discussed in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP)

2007 leadership report by Quebec Superior Court Rhejean Paul

Legal challenge of Federal Government's deposition of Barriere Lake's Customary Chief and Council

Assembly of First Nations briefing note - January 2008



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, October 6, 2008


Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 in Northern Quebec: Community loses patience with broken agreements and federal interference in leadership selection

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - At 6:00am today, Barriere Lake community members of all ages peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside their reserve, promising to maintain the blockade until Canada and Quebec commit in writing to honour their agreements and Canada appoints an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere Lake in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"The Conservative government, like the Liberal government before it, has treated us with contempt, refusing to respect the agreements they've signed with us," says Norman Matchewan, a community teacher and part-time police officer who was racially slurred two weeks ago by the assistant of Conservative Minister Lawrence Cannon, the representative in Barriere Lake's riding of Pontiac. "We've exhausted all our political options, but they've ignored or dismissed our community, leaving us with no choice but to peacefully blockade the highway to force the government to deal fairly with us."

Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral agreement in 1998, but has stalled since two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, made recommendations for the agreement's implementation in 2006.

"To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council," says Michel Thusky, a Barriere Lake spokesperson. "In what amounts to a coup d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government too because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the 1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."

On March 10th, 2008, for the third time in 12 years, the Government of Canada interfered in Barriere Lake's internal customary governance. They rescinded recognition of the Customary Chief and Council and recognized individuals whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council says were not selected in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"The federal government pretends this is simply an internal issue," says Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barriere Lake spokesperson, on-site at the peaceful blockade. "But we can only resolve the situation if the federal government appoints an observer to witness a new leadership selection that is truly in accordance with our Customary Governance Code, promises to respect the outcome, and then stops interfering in our internal affairs."

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court Judge Rejean Paul issued a report that concluded that the current faction recognized by the federal government was a "small minority" that "didn't respect the Customary Governance Code" in an alleged leadership selection in 2006 [1]. The federal government recognized this minority faction after they conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, even though an observer's report the government relied on stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected [2].

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council.

- 30 -

Media Contacts:

Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 - 435-217

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 647 - 227 - 6699

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 438 - 868 - 3957

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Coup in Context

*Reprinted from the Dominion


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where is Barriere Lake?


The Algonquins of Barriere Lake live just under 5 hours from Montreal, traveling north west. Once you leave the city limits you follow a two lane highway, the 115, that eventually narrows to one, past vacation spots like Mount Tremblant and a number of road-side stands selling poutines and cheeseburgers.

The distance between towns widens, and logging roads start trailing off the highway. Large trucks, perhaps belonging to the American multinational Domtar, stacked high with freshly shaved trees, drive towards one of the local paper mills. In the heart of one of their prime cutting zones sits the Barriere Lake reserve; created in 1961 without consultation with the small Algonquin community's customary chief and council.

Housing conditions


The nomadic community, only a few hundred people strong, was squeezed onto 59 acres in 1961, despite having a traditional territory roughly 17,000 square kilometers large. Some houses on the reservation hold up to 18 people. The land-base is too small to accommodate new houses, and the diesel generators that currently power the community have hit maximum capacity.

Hydroelectric dams


The community is still waiting to be hooked up to the grid-another unfulfilled promised. Ironic-considering the millions of revenue dollars extracted from the area from the numerous hydroelectric dams.

Resource extraction


Hydroelectricity is not the only resource extracted from the traditional territory. When logging and tourism are added to the equation, it is estimated annual revenues add up to roughly $100 million. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake do not see a cent of it. Over time a number of private companies and Crown corporations have increased the extraction of resources from the territory.

A history of protest and government repression


Over twenty years ago the unrestrained clear cut logging practices and sport hunting became too much for the community to quietly bear witness to. Protests, and later the blockading of logging roads, finally led to negotiations with the Canadian and Quebec governments.

A landmark agreement


The outcome of those negotiations was the Trilateral Agreement; an agreement based on the United Nations Brundtland Commission, with conservation and sustainable development as the main pillars. The landmark agreement promised co-management of resources and revenue sharing in the traditional territory in order to protect the Algonquin way of life while co-existing with non-native land users.


Indian Affairs attempts to scrap Trilateral Agreement


The government had other plans.

Just before the Trilateral's implementation in 2001 Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault pulled out, leaving the community with a large bill to pay for remaining research on traditional land use.

Cutting funds hasn't been the only method employed by the federal government in attempts to scrap the trilateral agreement. Since 1996, there have been three interventions in the community's leadership selection.

Round one: leadership interference


Indian Affairs imposed Third Party Management on the community, the third and most severe level of financial intervention in an Aboriginal community. Third Party Managers gain complete control of community finances.

During the 15 month period that Indian Affairs refused to recognize the Customary Chief and Council, both the minority faction Council and Third Party Management were unable to establish themselves on the Rapid Lake reserve, and instead ruled from exile in Maniwaki (150km south). Two million dollars in funding never reached Rapid Lake, programs and services were suspended, and the only school was closed.

Third Party mis-Management


For a second time Indian Affairs appointed Third Party Management. Once again, the school was shut down after parents discovered the teachers hired by Third Party Management refused to allow children to speak their Algonquin language -- a grim throw back to residential schools.

”[Cannon’s] inaction confirms that his Conservative Government's residential school apology was meaningless, because they continue violating our customs." - Michel Thusky, community spokesperson.

Ousted Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway


This past March, Indian Affairs Minister, Chuck Strahl, ousted Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway and empowered a minority faction as the new leadership. This brings the count up to three: three times now Indian Affairs has meddled in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs called the move a coup d'etat.

The Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with deposed Acting Chief Nottaway and his Council.


Cannon speaks with a forked tongue




Lawrence Cannon speaking about First Nations and the Canadian government (August, Maniwaki):

“The Government of Canada is committed to honoring its lawful obligations to First Nations, recognizing that their legal rights must be respected and upheld.”

"We are demonstrating the advantages of co-operative negotiations that enable us to resolve longstanding grievances without resorting to the courts. We strongly believe in negotiated agreements that settle contentious issues in a way that is mutually acceptable and benefits all parties.”

Occupying Cannon's office


Thursday, June 26th Algonquins of Barriere Lake and some of their supporters from the Montreal-based Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective, peacefully occupied Lawrence Cannon's office.

Lawrence Cannon, is a cabinet minister, Harper's Quebec lieutenant and MP in Barriere Lake's riding of Pontiac. Protesters were calling on Cannon to use his power to ensure Indian Affairs upholds the law and oversees a leadership re-selection.

Algonquins of Barriere Lake demands


“It has been about 20 years now [since the signing of the Trilateral Agreement] -- I was eight years old when we first signed the agreement. I’m 26 years old now. I’ve been waiting; we’ve been waiting a pretty long time now for the government to honour its agreement to the Barriere Lake people.” – Jessica Thusky, one of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake arrested in the action.

See, hear, speak...




Arrested while waiting for Cannon to obey the law


Two Algonquins, one of which was a minor, and four supporters spent the evening in jail and now face three charges: obstruction of a police officer, trespassing, mischief.

"We told them we would stop disobeying the law if Cannon did so as well. It's a small act of civil disobedience to draw attention to a far greater crime." – Martin Lukacs, member of Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective.

Keeping up the pressure


"The community will pursue Cannon wherever he is publicly, and we will only stop when Cannon honours his word, and ensures his Conservative government oversees a leadership re-selection, then stops meddling in our affairs for good." – Michel Thusky.

As the community works to get Indian Affairs and the Canadian government to uphold the law and recognize the Algonquins of Barriere Lake's customary governance code, more and more of the land continues to be irreparably damaged by logging and hydroelectric companies, and unemployment rates that run around 80-90 per cent persist.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Newspaper Battle: Conservative MP, Lawrence Cannon writes op-ed about Algonquins of Barriere Lake after a meeting last week; Norman Matchewan, youth spokesperson, responds.

Click here for photos of the meeting between Cannon and Barriere Lake and Norman Matchewan's interaction with Lawrence Cannon's personal assistant.