To resolve the crisis, we are prepared to participate in a new leadership selection process according to our Customary Governance Code: we ask only that the federal government appoint observers and promise to recognize the result, and honour our agreements.
Cannon's Message to Barriere Lake
Clarifications to the Algonquins
I would like to clarify certain facts in regards to the situation of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in the Pontiac riding where I have been the deputy since January 2006.
First of all, I have always hoped and continue to hope that chief-elect Casey Ratt, the band council and the elders can establish a harmonious dialogue with all the community members, including the group of dissidents. This community is important and I have always supported it wherever and whenever I could.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have chosen their chief. They did so by establishing their own electoral guidelines according to customs within their code of governance (Mitchikanibikik Anishinabe Onakinakewin (MAO).
The role of the Federal Government was then to recognize the results of this process which is what they did.
An election was held in January 2008 at which time the newly elected chief of Barriere Lake, Casey Ratt, wrote to the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs informing him of these results. In a statement dated June 18th 2008, the elders committee of Barriere Lake also confirmed the election of Casey Ratt and his council.
The dissidents, including Norman Matchewan and certain members of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, are opposed to the selection process and are contesting the legitimacy of the election of Mr. Ratt. They directly accuse Stephen Harper’s government of maintaining chaos in their community by presuming that the government supports a chief and council they claim is illegal.
In reality, the community members must speak to the chief, the council and the elders of the community if they wish to question the selection process and not to the Canadian Government.
Also, a Federal court decision, in the Wawatie vs Canada (Indian & Northern Affaires Canada, 2008 FC 975), was handed down last August 28th confirming that the Algonquins of Barriere Lake must abide by their election laws to elect their chief.
This decision also confirms that the Federal Government has no constitutional jurisdiction to interpret their customs or to supervise their electoral process. A Federal Government minister can not therefore interfere.
I continue to hope that chief-elect Casey Ratt, the band council and the elders can establish a harmonious dialogue with all the community members, including Norman Matchewan’s group of dissidents.
I cannot, otherwise, get involved by supporting a group of dissidents and their demands, such as naming an observer, when the community itself is not requesting that the Federal Government recognize a new decision on the election of a new chief.
Outgoing Deputy [sic]