FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 8, 2008
Barriere Lake Algonquins protest at home of Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs Michael Wernick, whose Ministry has illegally interfered in their internal governance and refused to honour signed agreements
Ottawa, ON / – Starting at 1:00pm, Friday, August 8, 2008, Algonquins from the Barriere Lake First Nation and their supporters will march to the home of Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs Michael Wernick, located at 266 Clemow Ave, west of Bank Street, where they will demand a meeting with the Minister as well as perform public theatre. They are calling for the Government of Canada to support the outcome of a new leadership selection process to be held in accordance with Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code, and to revoke their illegal decision to recognize a minority faction as Chief and Council, who were not selected according to Barriere Lake's customs and not supported by a majority of the community.
The Barriere Lake Algonquins also want the Government to uphold signed agreements with the community.
Rather than meet Barriere Lake's demands, Pierre Nepton, the Associate Director of the Quebec Regional Office of Indian Affairs, has suggested further violating their leadership customs by imposing an Indian Act electoral governance system on the community, which would be a direct violation of Barriere Lake's constitutionally protected Aboriginal Rights.
"The Canadian government and Michael Wernick, the top-ranking Indian Affairs civil servant, needs to reign in their Indian Affairs bureaucrats, who are out of control, threatening to flagrantly violate our constitutionally-protected rights to customary governance," says Marylynn Poucachiche, a spokesperson for Barriere Lake.
In 1991, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, located 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.
Since that time, the Government of Canada has repeatedly evaded its 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 Poucachiche. "The government should respect our traditions and customs and continue with the negotiation and implementation of the signed agreements."
Last month, members of the community gathered for multi-day protests outside the office of Minister Lawrence Cannon and the Department of Indian Affairs in Gatineau.
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Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819.435.2142
Michel Thuscky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819.435.2171