Thursday, August 28, 2008

OPIRG Presents:

TORONTO

Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest, 1989-2008

Panel discussion and film screening
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WEDNESDAY, November 5, 7:00pm, 2008
OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), Room # 2-211
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street W (@ St. George Subway Station)

Donations encouraged
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OPIRG Toronto presents: Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest, 1989-2008

Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest, 1989-2008

Panel discussion and film screening
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

WEDNESDAY, November 5, 7:00pm, 2008
OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), Room # 2-211
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street W (@ St. George Subway Station)

Donations encouraged
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Hear from Barriere Lake Algonquin community representatives, following an intense summer of marches on Ottawa, sustained calls for public support, protests in front of Premier Charest's office, an occupation of local MP Lawrence Cannon's office, and culminating in a one-day blockade of Highway 117 that resulted in 9 arrests and the deployment of riot police and tear gas. A short film of the recent blockades will be screened.

Since the Department of Indian Affairs ousted their Customary Chief and Council in March 2008 and used the Surete du Quebec to forcibly impose the authority of a minority community faction, the Algonquins have been organizing to roll-back the quiet coup d'etat. They are campaigning to make the government honour a number of agreements, including the Trilateral, a internationally praised land co-management and resource-revenue sharing deal the Algonquins signed with Canada and Quebec in 1991. It remains unimplemented.

Community spokespeople from Barriere Lake: Norman Matchewan and Marylynn Poucachiche are teachers in Barriere Lake's Algonquin elementary school and Barriere Lake's youth spokespeople. Also featuring Russell Diabo, Aboriginal policy analyst.

***Donations of money are encouraged to support the community's campaign – they need money for gas to travel. Click here for a full list of community needs and to make an online donation: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2008/03/donations.html

For more information Contact:
Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG)
Research – Education – Action on Social and Environmental Issues
www.opirguoft.org
opirg.toronto@utoronto.ca / (416)-978-7770

Monday, August 18, 2008

Barrière Lake: Is anybody home?

http://www.hour.ca/news/news.aspx?iIDArticle=15318

Barrière Lake: Is anybody home?
Sara Falconer

For several months, a group of Algonquins from Barrière Lake have been trying to reach Canada's government. Last week, they showed up at the Ottawa home of deputy minister of Indian Affairs Michael Wernick. Is anyone going to open the door?

On Aug. 8, about 30 representatives from the Barrière Lake reserve, three hours north of Ottawa, marched to Werner's house to request a meeting with him. The deputy minister was not present when the Algonquins arrived, but reportedly commented that he was "disappointed" by their tactics. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs declined to comment further, saying that Wernick was on holidays when the demonstration took place.

"Deputy minister Wernick shouldn't feel disappointed," youth spokesperson Norman Matchewan said in a release. "He should feel ashamed that he allows this behaviour of Indian Affairs to continue."

"At his office or at his house, what matters is getting our message to him," says Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barrière Lake spokesperson.

"We want to tell him that they should send in observers to oversee the leadership reselection in our community, and to respect the outcome of it."

The group is asking that the Government of Canada revoke its March 10 decision to recognize as chief and council members what they call a "minority faction" not selected according to Barrière Lake's customs. The community is one of the few left in the country that has preserved its traditional form of governance and language.

So far, their message

has received little response. In June, six demonstrators were arrested at the Gatineau office of Conservative MP Lawrence Cannon, also asking for an audience with him. Almost 100 members of the small reserve of 450 attended several days of subsequent protests.

The underlying issue, they argue, is the government's reluctance to honour an agreement to protect their land and resources. In 1991, following years of protest to prevent clear-cutting, the Canadian, Quebec and Barrière Lake Algonquin governments signed the landmark Trilateral Agreement.

"These officials don't want to meet with us because of that agreement," Poucachiche says. "We've been trying to get the government back to the table to complete the negotiations." The agreement, based on principles of sustainable development, would also provide for resource revenue sharing.

The extremely impoverished community has an employment rate of 80 to 90 per cent. Despite the fact that vast energy resources are extracted from their land, the residents are one of the last communities in Quebec still using diesel generators.

"I guess it's too much of a hassle, or it's going to create a precedent for other First Nations," she says. "We're only asking for about $1.5-million of the hundreds of millions these companies extract."

Hence the Canadian government's support of Chief Casey Ratt's "illegitimate" council, she adds. "This other group hasn't mentioned anything about the Trilateral Agreement."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Political Theatre at Michael Wernick's



Algonquins of Barriere Lake and Supporters make a personal visit to see Michael Wernick, Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, and perform street theatre.

For more photos and a description of the action, click here

Media Advisory for August 13 : Deputy Minister Wernick gives Algonquins the slip, disparages efforts to end Indian Affairs' illegal meddling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs gives Barriere Lake Algonquins the slip, disparages their efforts to end Indian Affairs' illegal meddling in their governance

Ottawa, ON / - On Friday, August 8, Algonquins from Barriere Lake and their supporters protested at the home of Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs Michael Wernick. They hoped a delegation could meet with the Deputy Minister, but he slipped out of his house just before the Algonquins arrived and told a journalist he was "disappointed" by the Algonquin's tactics.

"He's disappointed we were in front of his house," says Marylynn Poucachiche, a Barriere Lake spokesperson. "Compare that to our disappointment about Indian Affairs' illegal meddling in our internal affairs and their violation of our constitutionally-protected rights to customary governance."

"Deputy Minister Wernick shouldn't feel disappointed," added Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for Barriere Lake. "He should feel ashamed that he allows this behaviour of Indian Affairs to continue."

The Barriere Lake Algonquins are demanding that the Government of Canada revoke its illegal decision of March 10, 2008, to recognize as Chief and Council members of a minority faction not selected according to Barriere Lake's customs nor supported by a majority of the community, and to respect the outcome of a new leadership selection process in accordance with Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code.

Instead of meeting 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 Algonquins also 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.

Last month, members of Barriere Lake gathered for multi-day protests outside the office of Minister Lawrence Cannon and the Department of Indian Affairs in Gatineau.

"We'll leave politicians and bureaucrats alone when the Department of Indian Affairs treats our community fairly, honours its agreements, and stays out of our business," concluded Matchewan. "Until then, we're not going to stop protesting."

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Photos of the action (for tif files, please get in touch)

Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: (819) 435 - 2142

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson: (819) 435 - 2142

Thursday, August 7, 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.


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Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819.435.2142
Michel Thuscky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819.435.2171