FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September, 24, 2008
Barriere Lake Algonquins demand that "Economy in the Pontiac" debate not exclude their economic plight: pressure MP Lawrence Cannon to honour agreements and leadership customs
Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / – Algonquins from Barriere Lake will protest at "The Economy of the Pontiac" all-candidates debates in Campbell's Bay, Quebec, at 7:30pm.
"The economy in the Pontiac relies heavily on the natural resources of our people, while excluding us from its benefits," says Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson. "The government and corporations annually take $100 million dollars out of our land, while we don't receive a single cent. The agreements the federal government currently refuses to honour would allow us to participate in the regional economy and to share these natural resources."
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake live on a 59-acre reserve 350 kilometres north of Ottawa, in moldy, overcrowded homes that have been condemned by Health Canada. Unemployment is between 80 and 90 per cent and the community relies on diesel generators for electricity. Despite these conditions, they have maintained their language, culture and customary system of government.
The Barriere Lake Algonquins want the Government to uphold signed agreements with the community, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development, conservation, and resource co-management process praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada walked away from the agreement in 2001.
"By ignoring the signed agreements and interfering in our customs regarding leadership selection, the federal government is violating the Canadian constitution by the minimum standards set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," said Michel Thusky, a spokesperson for Barriere Lake. "Cannon needs to commit to Barriere Lake's demands, and the other candidates should endorse them if they want to demonstrate their respect for First Nations rights."
Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson: (819) 334 - 0411
Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: (819) 435 – 2171
Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson : (819) 435 - 2171
For more information: www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com