Wednesday, March 12, 2008




The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are a First Nation who hunt, fish, trap, and harvest on more than 10,000 square kilometers of territory north of Ottawa in what is now called Quebec. They are among the First Nations in Canada who still speak their traditional language fluently and is proud of their Algonquin language, their culture, and their protection of the land.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake, like many indigenous people world-over, have been long been embroiled in struggles with their colonizers (the Canadian and Quebec Governments). Since 1991 much of their disputes have hinged on a Trilateral Agreement, which both the Federal and Provincial governments have signed, but have failed to honor. 


In short, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are struggling to survive, and preserve their customs and way of life. This involves defending the land on which they live. Since 1991, they have been trying to get the Federal and Provincial Governments to honour the Trilateral Agreement (See below for more detail).

From an outside perspective, it can seem like a very complicated struggle. The struggle has taken many twists and turns, as the ABL have had to respond to a wide array of tactics used by the Canadian Government to try to weaken them. The ABL have written letters, blockaded the highway that runs through their land, fought for their rights in court, marched in Toronto and Ottawa, participated in days of action, and so on. The details of many of these actions can be learned about on this website, as they've been documented and archived.

Currently, the ABL are working to protect their land from the development of a copper mine. The mining claim covers over 300 square kilometers, including a large part of the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, and the headwaters of the Ottawa river. It would have a devastating impact on the community and on others downstream.


The Trilateral Agreement is a contract between the Federal Government (Canada), the Provincial Government (Quebec) and the ABL that deals with land use of 10 000 km2 of land traditionally inhabited and used by the ABL. It is an alternative to Canada’s preferred negotiation policy, called the "Comprehensive Land Claims." This negotiating process forces First Nations to extinguish their Aboriginal rights and title upon settlement, to give up communal land rights for private property ownership, and to shoulder expensive legal and land use mapping costs that eventually get docked from meager settlements.

The ABL rejected this Comprehensive land claims approach, and chose instead to sign a conservation plan called the Trilateral Agreement. In summary, the Trilateral agreement would see the ABL included in decision making about the land, and gain a financial return from any resource extraction or commerce on their land (logging, hydro-electric, tourism). It would see traditional Algonquin knowledge of the land integrated into how the territory might be used and conserved.

Both the provincial and federal governments have dragged their heels in implementing this agreement, going so far as to deny its legitimacy as a contract and orchestrating coups of the customary government in the ABL community, sowing internal foment. Instead, Canada has hired expensive consultants to help strategize on how to break their own commitments. Proof of this has been made clear by a report penned by one of these diplomats, Marc Perron, in Dec 2007, in which he outlined strategies to disrupt the community and take them off course from pursuing the Trilateral Agreement. The imposition of Section 74 is but another tactic to try to divide and weaken this community that has shown such strength in its struggle to defend the land.


BLS is a network of people from outside of Barriere Lake who are working with the community to support their struggle.


Please note that few resources have been added since 2009. For more recent content, please consult the posts on this website.


Honour Your Word (2013, 59 mins)
Blockade on the 117 (2008, 14 mins)
Barriere Lake: Blockade Round II (2008, 7 mins)
Blockade! Algonquins Defend the Forest (1990, 27 mins)
Film: Algonquins of Barriere Lake (2008, 41 mins)


Taking the Road Back: From Wampum Belt Promises to Highway Blockades (CITIZENShift, 8 January 2009)
Arthur Manuel - Canada: A Pariah State (McGill campus, 3 November 2008)


Perron Report, 2007: Top Diplomat's report to Minister laid out strategy for government subversion of Algonquin community
Letter from Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway to Premier Charest
Laurier Riel Report, part I - Riel witnessed the alleged leadership selection, whose result was recognized by Indian Affairs on March 10, 2008
Christian Peacemakers' Report on Barriere Lake
Laurier Riel Report, part II
1991 Trilateral Agreement document
Memorandum of Mutual Intent - Global Proposal to rebuild Community, with Special Provisions attached
Trilateral Agreement - Powerpoint presentation
Discussion of the Trilateral Agreement in the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP)
Bilateral Agreement - Quebec government and Algonquins of Barriere Lake
Bilateral Agreement - 2006 Lincoln-Ciaccia recommendations
2007 leadership report by Quebec Superior Court Rhejean Paul
Factum from court case challenging Federal government's imposition of Third Party Management and breach of previous agreements with Barriere Lake
Legal challenge of Federal Government's deposition of Barriere Lake's Customary Chief and Council
Assembly of First Nations briefing note - January 2008
Barriere Lake community newsletter - Update February 18th, 2008
Barriere Lake community newsletter - Update March 20th, 2008
Barriere Lake community newsletter - Update April 20, 2008
Sierra Club Canadian Forestry Report Card, the province of Quebec
Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996)
History of Man-Made Impacts on Barriere Lake Community, Fish and Wildlife
Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador: Police Inquiry Resolution (1989)
Dominion: Coup d'etat in Indian Country (April 10, 2008)
Article from 1990s regarding Barriere Lake. Writen by Charlie Angus, published in Forestry Life: Canada's Quarterly Forestry Magazine
A Coup in Context

Selected Press Coverage

Starve or submit: How one First Nation remains in servitude to a private accounting firm (Ricochet, April 7th, 2016)
First Nation says outside manager’s pay prevents spending on crucial issues (Globe and Mail, March 2017)  Aboriginal Affairs Cuts off Funds to Barriere Lake Algonquin Families (The Leveller, January 28th, 2015)
Lutte prolongée à Lac Barrière (Journal Ensemble: Oct 2, 2013) First Nations pay Jean Charest a visit (OTL Blog: Jan. 12, 2009)
Green leader takes up land rights case of Que. First Nation (Canwest News Service: Jan 7th, 2009)
Blockade leader says he's a 'political prisoner' (Globe and Mail: Dec 15th, 2008)
Last Resort: Natives stand up (The Real News Network: Dec 16th, 2008)
Algonquin Chief Denied Bail in Canada (Pacifica Radio: Nov 21st, 2008)
Des barricades sur la 117 (La Presse: Nov 20, 2008)
Road blocked:
Four arrested at highway blockade by Barriere Lake Algonquins (The Montreal Gazette: Nov 19, 2008)

News report from Nov 19th blockade of highway 117 (Aboriginal People's Television Network: Nov 19th, 2008)
Radio interviews from the November 19th, 2008 blockade of highway 117 (CKDU News Collective: Nov 19th, 2008)
Full radio report on the November 19th blockade of highway 117 (CKDU News Collective)
Les autochtones craignent pour leur identité culturelle et leur gouvernance (La Presse Canadienne: Nov 19th, 2008