Friday, July 18, 2008

Media: Barriere Lake Algonquins stage multi-day protest in Ottawa/Gatineau




Rabble Video: Barriere Lake Algonquins return to Ottawa, again (July 17, 2008)

Radio-Canada: Manifestation devant les bureaux de Cannon (July 17, 2008)

CBC News: Quebec Algonquin community opens own school over language fears (July 17, 2008)

Free Speech Radio News: Algonquins of Barriere Lake want Canadian government out of internal affairs (July 18, 2008)

Le Cagibi, 5490 St. Laurent, MONTREAL

Screening: The Invisible Nation, followed by presentation by Barriere Lake Solidarity
Monday July 21, 2008 @ 7pm

Media Advisory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.


– 30 –

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

Footnotes
[1] http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nr/spch/2007/kza-eng.asp

Ottawa Citizen: Barriere Lake (July 15, 2008)

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/views/story.html?id=784f0885-a0b4-4886-98bb-ef1aea207412&p=2%3Cbr%20/%3E

Boyce Richardson, Citizen Special
July 15, 2008

I first came in contact with the Algonquins of Barrière Lake soon after the Brundtland Report on the global environment was published by the United Nations in 1987.

That report had been endorsed by prime minister Brian Mulroney, and it recommended that indigenous people should have "a decisive voice" in all development decisions about their traditional lands.

There was no doubt that the greater part of the so-called La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, north of Maniwaki, formed the traditional lands of this impoverished community.

Or that they had never signed any instrument of surrender covering these lands.

Or that these lands were being remorselessly clear-cut from under them, without taking into account their interests.

Their approach to the prime minister that he "put up or shut up" in relation to their traditional lands got them nowhere. The clear-cutting continued, and the community decided to block access of the loggers to the forest, so far as they could with their limited means.

What I saw when I arrived there with a National Film Board crew was an impressive challenge mounted by one of the poorest communities in Canada, to the combined might of industry and government.

The outcome was an agreement - known as the Trilateral Agreement - with the federal and Quebec governments, to make a detailed survey of the lands in question that would establish the areas of central interest to the continuation of Algonquin life, and work out a cutting plan that would take into account everyone's interest.

To say that the governments have been reluctant to implement this agreement would be an understatement.

First the Quebec, then the federal government withdrew and then, under pressure from outside mediators such as Clifford Lincoln, the respected federal MP and former Quebec environment minister, and judge Réjean Paul, they rejoined, and then quit again, while, ironically enough, the logging companies became the ones who were willing to collaborate.

I always knew there was dissension among the people in Barrière Lake.

Opposition was centred around the family of a wonderful old lady, Lena Nottaway, who had established a large camp for her family north of the reserve. Her family were traditionalists, adhering to the old ways.

There were volatile people on both sides of this argument, but their relationships were not improved when the Indian Affairs department decided in 1996 to depose the leadership elected under traditional procedures, and recognized an alternative band council from members who were by this time living in Maniwaki.

Of course, this extremely provocative act didn't succeed, but who could have been surprised by it when it was totally in line with the federal department's traditional "divide and rule" tactics that they have been using for two centuries? Recently, the feds have tried to repeat their dreadful manoeuvre.

My later reading convinced me that since Europeans first arrived among them, the Barrière Lake people have known nothing but hardship, promises and betrayals.

They are used to this kind of manipulation.

The decision to rob Barrière Lake of its traditional hunting grounds; the decision to jam the people into the 59 acres of Rapid Lake; the handing over to outside hunters of the animals they depended on; the many failed programs, programmed to fail, as far as I could judge; the manifest bad faith of the federal government in its negotiations over the Trilateral Agreement: all of these were inexcusable. So the later decision to intervene in the governance of Barrière Lake seems to be simply a continuation of the neglect, misunderstanding and arrogance that the feds have always shown toward this community.

I knew, liked, and admired people on both sides of the community argument. I have found them to be a down-to-earth people with a real attachment to the land, which has continued even against the extraordinary interference and provocations of these governments.

I have found many of them to be repositories of the ancient bush wisdom of aboriginal hunter/gatherers.

Through every possible discouragement they have clung to their language and way of life.

But -- is this the best that these people can expect in the way of governance? Is this the best they can hope for in the way of financial and moral support from the federal government, which is constitutionally responsible for their care?

Barrière Lake suffers from being remote from the cities; it is difficult for its people to get a real hearing in the cities. And the fact that they are poor, in addition, puts them into the category of voiceless people occupying the bottom rung of Canadian society.

And yet, the people of Barrière Lake are battling on in their effort to get the governments involved to fulfill the many promises that have been made to them over recent decades. They deserve the active support of everyone who cares about how Canada is governed.

Boyce Richardson is an Ottawa writer and filmmaker. His 1990 film, Blockade, Algonquins Defend the Forest, will be screened along with a panel discussion as part of an event at Arts Court tomorrow evening.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Events

Multi-day Barriere Lake Algonquin Picket in Ottawa/Gatineau
Lawrence Cannon's office at the Ministry of Transport (330 Sparks Street, OTTAWA)
Wednesday July 16 @ 12:30pm-5pm & Thursday July 17 @ 11:00am-5pm
Department of Indian Affairs (Corner of Wellington and Montcalm, GATINEAU)
Friday July 18 @ 11:00am-5pm

Screening: Blockade! Algonquins Defend the Forest, followed by a panel with the film's director and Barriere Lake community members
Club SAW, OTTAWA
Wednesday July 16 @ 7pm

Poetry Slam!
Umi Cafe. 610 Somerset Street W, OTTAWA
Friday July 18 @ 7pm

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

MEDIA ADVISORY

Friday, July 11, 2008

Algonquins and their supporters arrested for demanding Minister Cannon respect their leadership customs: release of Riel report confirms Conservative Government's illegal meddling in Barriere Lake's internal governance.

Montreal, QC / – On Thursday June 26, 2008, seven Algonquin youth from Barriere Lake, along with five non-native supporters, peacefully occupied the office of Lawrence Cannon for five hours, demanding that Cannon meet with them and ensure his Conservative Government oversee a leadership reselection in Barriere Lake. Six people were arrested and charged for refusing to leave until the demands were met.

"Cannon didn't even have the respect to meet with us," said Barriere Lake spokesperson Michel Thusky, whose daughter was one of those arrested. "As a Cabinet member who is the representative in Barriere Lake's riding, Cannon can ensure our customs are respected. His inaction shows that his Conservative Government's residential school apology was meaningless, as they continue violating our customs."

The release of a report written by Laurier Riel, a Maniwaki Court Worker, confirms that the Department of Indian Affairs deliberately violated Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code in their effort to recognize members of a minority faction as the new leadership. Present at an alleged leadership selection conducted by a minority faction on January 30, 2008, Riel wrote that he could not "guarantee" the Customary Governance Code was respected.

Despite Riel's doubts, and warnings from Barriere Lake's Elder's Council that the alternative leadership selection was illegitimate, the federal government rescinded recognition of Barriere Lake's Customary Chief and Council, supported by the community's majority, on March 10, 2008. In their place, they appointed members of the minority faction as the new leadership, using the Surete du Quebec to forcibly impose their authority. The federal government claimed Riel's report provided a "significant amount of
information" justifying this unilateral leadership change, but refused to show the report to the Barriere Lake community. After two and half months of stonewalling, the Riel report was released to the legal counsel for Barriere Lake's Elder's Council, who are challenging the leadership change in federal court.

Contradicting the federal government's claim that they ensured Barriere Lake's customary leadership selection was followed, Riel writes in his report that "my statement" that "to the best of my knowledge [the leadership selection] was in accordance with the Mitchikanibikok Anishnabe Onakinakewin [Customary Governance Code] could cause confusion." He can "not guarantee that all the other rules on leadership revision were observed," describing how Elder's Council member Harry Wawatie as well as the ousted Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council were not present at the leadership selection, in violation of Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code. Riel also writes that he cannot "guarantee" that proper notice had been given to the Barriere Lake Elder's Council or to eligible members of the Barriere Lake community.

"Cannon would rather choose the courts over a reasonable request to talk and honour the law, the opposite of his public statements," said 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 Temiskaming, 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.


Media Contacts:

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

Benjamin Nottaway, Customary Chief of Barriere Lake: (819) 435- 2108

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

Footnotes
[1] http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nr/spch/2007/kza-eng.asp

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Media Advisory for August 8: ABL visit Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs house

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.


– 30 –

Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 613-263-9330, 514-893-8283

Media Advisory for August 8: ABL visit Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs house

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.


– 30 –

Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 613-263-9330, 514-893-8283

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ottawa Express: Algonquins' of Barriere Lake occupy Lawrence Cannon's Buckingham office (July 3, 2008):

http://www.ottawaxpress.ca/news/news.aspx?iIDArticle=15039

BARRIERE LAKE

SARA FALCONER
July 3rd, 2008

Patience isn't such a virtue, it seems. On June 25, a group of Algonquin youths from Barrière Lake and supporters entered the Gatineau office of Conservative MP Lawrence Cannon. For hours they refused to leave unless they were granted a meeting with him. In the end, the only response to their endurance came from police: six demonstrators, including one minor, were taken to Hull Prison.

The impoverished Algonquin community of Barrière Lake, located about 300 km north of Ottawa in Quebec, has already been waiting for more than 20 years for the government to comply with a landmark 1991 agreement to conserve the forest and wildlife, and to give them a share in the revenue from the logging and hydro projects on their traditional territories. Corporations extract $100-million a year, while the local unemployment rate is 90 per cent.

In March, members of the population protested what they called a "government orchestrated coup d'état," in which the previous Customary Council Chief, Benjamin Nottaway, was ousted by rivals alleging mismanagement. Things heated up on June 1, when government-supported Chief Casey Ratt's house burned down. Responding to a police investigation of the suspected arson, Nottaway issued a statement denying that he or any member of the Customary Council were responsible.

"There's no doubt that the Department [of Indian Affairs] recognizes a minority faction. The reason why they recognize this Council is because they don't want to recognize the agreement that we signed previously,"
says Michel Thusky, a community spokesperson whose daughter was one of those arrested in Cannon's office.

The demonstrators wanted to meet with the Minster to demand a leadership reselection process, with outside observers, and an end to government interference in the internal governance of Barrière Lake.

Thusky asks people in outside communities to help put pressure on Cannon and the Department of Indian Affairs. "I'm a residential school survivor. When Prime Minister Harper made his apology... it really deepened my wound, because here he is, saying one thing, and doing the opposite. He can keep his apology."

Martin Lukacs is a member of Montreal's Barrière Lake solidarity collective who was also arrested on June 25. "We told them we would stop disobeying the law if Cannon did as well. It's a small act of civil disobedience to draw attention to a far greater crime." Cannon was not available for comment at press time.

They were released after being charged with trespassing, causing a disturbance and interfering with the lawful use of property. "It's ironic because the demand we're making is that Cannon's Conservative government should stop interfering with the lawful governance of Barrière Lake," he points out.

Lukacs says that there will be more such actions if that's what it takes. "The community has never taken this government manipulation on their knees."