Tuesday, November 18, 2008


In front of Jean Charest's office
corner of McGill College & Sherbrooke
* bring banners, signs, placards, noise-makers...

Join Barriere Lake Solidarity in a demonstration to call on Premier Charest to STOP using riot police, tear gas and pain compliance and START honouring signed agreements with Barriere Lake Algonquins.

In early October, as a method of last resort, families from the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake blockaded highway 117 in northern Quebec, demanding that the Federal and Quebec governments uphold the agreements they signed with the community, and stop imposing illegitimate leadership on the community in order to avoid their responsibilities.

Norman Matchewan, community youth spokesperson says, "Both the federal and provincial governments have treated us with contempt, refusing to respect the agreements they've signed with us. We've exhausted all our political options, but they've ignored or dismissed our community, leaving us with no choice but to peacefully blockade the highway to force the government to deal fairly with us."

Instead of sending in negotiators, honouring signed agreements and sending an observer for their leadership re-selection, dozens of riot cops overran the families who were peacefully demonstrating. Riot cops surrounded the area, and launched tear gas canisters, one of which hit a disabled community member in the chest. Nine people, including an elder, a pregnant woman, and two minors, were arrested. Eight demonstrators remained locked down to concrete-filled barrels, but police used "pain compliance"--roughly, torture--to force them to let go, and be arrested.

There have been many outcries against the actions taken by Charest's government. Angus Toulouse, Ontario Regional Chief, in a letter to Charest on October 10th wrote, "the leadership of the First Nations of Ontario are very concerned regarding the approach taken by the SQ against the ABL…Resorting to aggressive police action is clearly regrettable and further does not address the root causes of this situation." Several European human rights organizations recently supported Barriere Lake's demands and condemned police actions taken against the community.

Barriere Lake's List of Demands:

1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.

2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.

3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.

4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.

5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.

6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs' treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.

7. That the Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-First Nation relations and the SQ's procedures during policing of First Nation communities.