Friday, July 18, 2008

Media Advisory


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Barriere Lake Algonquins begin multi-day demonstrations in Ottawa: demand Government of Canada stop illegally meddling in Barriere Lake's internal governance and honour its signed agreements

Ottawa, ON / – At 12:30pm, Algonquins from the Barriere Lake First Nation will begin a demonstration in front of Minister Lawrence Cannon's office at the Ministry of Transport, planning to return on Thursday before continuing their protest Friday in front of the Department of Indian Affairs in Gatineau. They are demanding a meeting with Minister Cannon, that the Government oversee a leadership re-selection in accordance with Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code, and that the Government honour its signed agreements with the community.

"As a Cabinet member who is the representative in Barriere Lake's riding, Cannon can ensure our customs are respected," Barriere Lake spokesperson Michel Thusky. "His inaction shows that his Conservative Government's residential school apology was meaningless, as they continue violating our customs."

In 1991 the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, a community three hours north of Ottawa, signed a Trilateral Agreement with the governments of Canada and Quebec, establishing a landmark sustainable development, conservation, and resource co-management process praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. However, the Government of Canada has regularly tried to evade their obligations under the agreement. On March 10th, 2008, for the third time in 12 years, the government of Canada interfered in the internal governance of Barriere Lake, ousting the Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council and recognizing a Chief and Council whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council say were not selected in accordance with the community's customs and whom the majority of the community does not support.

"I don't think it's right for any government to interfere this way," says Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barriere Lake spokesperson. "The government should respect our traditions and customs and continue with the negotiation of the signed agreements."

"Cannon would rather choose the courts over a reasonable request to talk and honour the law, contrary to his public statements," continued Thusky. On August 9, 2007, Cannon told a crowd in Maniwaki that his government was committed "to honouring its lawful obligations to First Nations" and "demonstrating the advantages of co-operative negotiations that enable us to resolve longstanding grievances without resorting to the courts." [1]

"The community will pursue Cannon wherever he is publicly," Thusky concluded. "We will only stop when Cannon honours his word, and ensures his Conservative government observes a leadership reselection and then stops meddling in our affairs for good."

Grand Chief Norman Young, of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat (ANS), the Tribal Council representing the Algonquin First Nations of Barriere Lake, Wolf Lake, and Timiskaming, recently issued a letter to Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, encouraging him to support a leadership reselection process in the community. The Algonquin Nation Secretariat continues to recognize and work with deposed Chief Nottaway and his Council.

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Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: (613) 255 -1961

Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson (available 12-1pm, 4pm–onward): (819) 435-2171

Norman Young, Algonquin Nation Secretariat Grand Chief: (819) 627 -6869