Monday, September 29, 2008

Newspaper Battle: Conservative MP, Lawrence Cannon writes op-ed about Algonquins of Barriere Lake after a meeting last week; Norman Matchewan, youth spokesperson, responds.

Click here for photos of the meeting between Cannon and Barriere Lake and Norman Matchewan's interaction with Lawrence Cannon's personal assistant.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Event!


Rolling back a Coup d'Etat: Barriere Lake Algonquins Panel

With excerpts screened from The Invisible Nation

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
WEDNESDAY, October 1, 6:00pm, 2008
McGill Faculty of Law, Moot Court
1st floor of New Chancellor Day Hall
3644 Peel Street
Donations encouraged
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Click here for more details!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Advisory: Barriere Lake Algonquins to Protest at "Economy in the Pontiac" Candidates Debate: Demand Candidates Focus on Their Violated Agreements

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."


Media contacts:

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

Press Advisory: Conservative MP Lawrence Cannon dismisses Barriere Lake Algonquin's urgent demands until elections end; refuses to visit reserve

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE



September 19, 2008



After Conservative MP Lawrence Cannon's personal assistant racially slurs a youth spokesperson, the Minister tells Barriere Lake Algonquins to wait until elections end to have their urgent demands addressed by his government: community representatives promise to keep pressure on him during election



Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / – Conservative MP Lawrence Cannon held a short meeting today with Algonquin representatives from Barriere Lake in Low, Quebec, but youth spokesperson Norman Matchewan expressed doubts about Cannon's respect for the community.



"He said he didn't have time to ensure the federal government accepts reasonable demands we've spent years trying to reach him about – that the government honour agreements they've signed with us, stop undemocratically propping up an illegitimate Chief and Council in our community, and appoint observers to witness a leadership re-selection and respect its outcome in order to resolve the mess they've created," said Matchewan, a community teacher and part-time police officer who was the victim of racist allegations by Cannon's personal assistant on Tuesday in Maniwaki, after he questioned the Minister about the Conservative government's violations of his community's rights.[1]



"Our community is in crisis, but he refused to even think about visiting Barriere Lake to find out more about the situation," continued Matchewan. "He also said he couldn't get authorization to act as a government representative to commit to our demands, and that we would have to wait until the election was over for him to further consider them. It was ridiculous to hear Stephen Harper's Quebec lieutenant tell us that he doesn't have the power or a few hours to ensure the government honours agreements my parent's generation have waited twenty years to see implemented. We think this is simply a stalling tactic intended to control the damage the racist comments have done to his image. He probably thinks that once he's re-elected, he can ignore us just as he has done for the past two years."



Deeply dissatisfied with Cannon's follow up on the racist remarks, community representatives told Cannon that they plan to continue their campaign to make the Conservative government's mistreatment of Barriere Lake an election issue in Pontiac. Today, they also met with the Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and NDP candidates in the riding.



– 30 –

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson: 819 – 435 - 2171, 819 - 334 - 0411


Footnotes

[1] http://www.aptn.ca/streaming/index.php?wmv=wednesday/six

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Barriere Lake Algonquins begin campaign during MP Lawrence Cannon's quest for reelection in Pontiac: question whether his broken promises make him fit to represent riding

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory – With Stephen Harper's election call for October 14th, the Barriere Lake Algonquins will begin campaigning in the Pontiac riding to build support for their rights and to demand incumbent MP Lawrence Cannon follow through on his promises.

On March 10th, 2008, for the third time in 12 years, the Government of Canada interfered in the governance of Barriere Lake, denying the community the elementary right to choose their own leadership. The Government has rescinded recognition of the Customary Chief and Council supported by the community's majority and recognized individuals whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council says were not selected in accordance with their Customary Governance Code. To resolve the situation, Barriere Lake has demanded that the Government of Canada send observers to witness a leadership re-selection, and in good faith recognize the outcome.

They also want the Government of Canada to uphold an internationally lauded sustainable development agreement Barriere Lake signed with Quebec and the Conservative federal government in 1991. The Government of Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001.

"We have written letters to Cannon, briefed his assistants, picketed at his Maniwaki constituency office, peacefully sat-in at his Buckingham office, and protested for days at his Ministry of Transport office in Ottawa," said Norman Matchewan, a spokesperson for Barriere Lake. "And yet he has not so much as answered once – which puts the lie to his promises to respect First Nations rights."

On August 9, 2007, Cannon told a crowd in Maniwaki that 'the Government of Canada is committed to honoring its lawful obligations to First Nations, recognizing that their legal rights must be respected and upheld.'

'We are demonstrating,' Cannon continued, 'the advantages of co-operative negotiations that enable us to resolve longstanding grievances without resorting to the courts. We strongly believe in negotiated agreements that settle contentious issues in a way that is mutually acceptable and benefits all parties.' [1]

'In fact, contrary to his public statements, Cannon would rather force us to endure hardship and go to the courts then to encourage his government to meet our reasonable demand, that they act in good faith and respect the law," said Michel Thusky, a Barriere Lake spokesperson. "As an important Cabinet member who is the representative in Barriere Lake's riding, Cannon can ensure that his government respects our leadership customs and the agreements signed with our community."

'At his office or on the campaign trail, what matters is getting our message to him,' added Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barrière Lake spokesperson.'We will hold him accountable to the people in the riding.'

Barriere Lake representatives will meet this week with the NDP, Bloc Quebecois,and Liberal candidates in the Pontiac riding, to raise awareness about the violations of their rights and to increase support for their demands.

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council. Across the country, more than thirty environmental and civic groups and organizations have supported Barriere Lake's demands.[2]


– 30 –

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819-334-0411

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson (available 12:30-1:30pm, and after 3pm): 819-435 - 2171

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


Footnotes

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

[2] http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2008/03/mission.html

Cannon's Response to Barriere Lake

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




ENGLISH TRANSLATION

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.

No jurisdiction

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.


Lawrence Cannon
Outgoing Deputy [sic]
Pontiac riding

Community Response to Cannon's Le Droit Letter

Barriere Lake's Response to Federal Conservative MP, Lawrence Cannon's Message in Le Droit


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Norman Matchewan
Youth Spokesperson, Barriere Lake

Lawrence Cannon's comments about Barriere Lake are another attempt to discredit us. First his aide insinuates we're alcoholics; now he vilifies our community's majority as "dissidents." How much more racist contempt can we expect from his office?

Our relationship with the federal government has been defined by broken promises and interference in our internal affairs. In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to sustainably develop our traditional territories – the United Nations called the plan an environmental "trailblazer."

Yet in 1996, the federal government tried to hijack the agreement by replacing our legitimate Chief and Council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside. Former Liberal provincial cabinet minister Michel Gratton condemned the act: "This unilateral and sudden decision to dismiss and replace the existing chief and council," he wrote, "goes against the grain of every democratic principle."

A resolution was achieved in 1997 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Réjean Paul, who restored our legitimate Chief and Council and renewed the Trilateral agreement. To prevent future interference, he helped codify our leadership customs into a Customary Governance Code which the government promised to respect.

Old habits die hard. In 2001, the government pulled out of the Trilateral agreement and started favouring certain community members opposed to our legitimate leadership. Judge Réjean Paul mediated again in 2007, concluding that the opposition to our Chief and Council was "a small minority" whose leadership challenge "did not respect the Customary Governance Code."

But when this same minority group conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, the federal government quickly recognized them. In court, we forced the government to release an observer's report they relied on to recognize the January 2008 leadership selection: not surprisingly, the report stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected. Yet again, the government is throwing democratic principles to the wind by ignoring our customs and the wishes of our people. And Lawrence Cannon has the audacity to call the overwhelming majority of our community members "dissidents"!

Community Response to Cannon's Le Droit Letter

Barriere Lake's Response to Federal Conservative MP, Lawrence Cannon's Message in Le Droit


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Norman Matchewan
Youth Spokesperson, Barriere Lake

Lawrence Cannon's comments about Barriere Lake are another attempt to discredit us. First his aide insinuates we're alcoholics; now he vilifies our community's majority as "dissidents." How much more racist contempt can we expect from his office?

Our relationship with the federal government has been defined by broken promises and interference in our internal affairs. In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to sustainably develop our traditional territories – the United Nations called the plan an environmental "trailblazer."

Yet in 1996, the federal government tried to hijack the agreement by replacing our legitimate Chief and Council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside. Former Liberal provincial cabinet minister Michel Gratton condemned the act: "This unilateral and sudden decision to dismiss and replace the existing chief and council," he wrote, "goes against the grain of every democratic principle."

A resolution was achieved in 1997 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Réjean Paul, who restored our legitimate Chief and Council and renewed the Trilateral agreement. To prevent future interference, he helped codify our leadership customs into a Customary Governance Code which the government promised to respect.

Old habits die hard. In 2001, the government pulled out of the Trilateral agreement and started favouring certain community members opposed to our legitimate leadership. Judge Réjean Paul mediated again in 2007, concluding that the opposition to our Chief and Council was "a small minority" whose leadership challenge "did not respect the Customary Governance Code."

But when this same minority group conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, the federal government quickly recognized them. In court, we forced the government to release an observer's report they relied on to recognize the January 2008 leadership selection: not surprisingly, the report stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected. Yet again, the government is throwing democratic principles to the wind by ignoring our customs and the wishes of our people. And Lawrence Cannon has the audacity to call the overwhelming majority of our community members "dissidents"!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pain Compliance as Indigenous Relations

Inside the Barriere Lake Algonquins' blockade of highway 117


by Dru Oja Jay

Posted originally in >The Dominion

I'm perched on an embankment overlooking Highway 117, an obscure but
economically important link between Montreal and northern Quebec. To
look at most maps, there's nothing here, five hours north of Montreal,
well out of the cottage towns and ski resorts of the Laurentians and
still two hours short of the cluster of resource extraction economies
around Val d'Or (in English, Valley of Gold), where mining now focuses
more on metals like copper, zinc and lead. I'm in the middle of a four
hour stretch where most travellers could be forgiven for thinking was
nothing but a few hunting lodges, logging roads and Hydro Quebec
turnouts.

A girl, young enough that I have to bend down to hear what she's
saying, climbs up the embankment and points at the highway.

"Look where we're colouring," she says.

I look. In the middle of the highway, a handful of kids--her age--are
gathered around a card table, drawing on sheets of paper and colouring
books with markers. Next to them, a dozen protesters hold signs,
facing away from the kids' table. The signs say things like "no more
pepper spray/arrests/batons," and "honour signed agreements."

Beyond the protesters, several trees lay across the road. A large
banner reads "Honour your word," and "protect the environment, share
the land's wealth."

Beyond the banner, a row of green-uniformed police officers spans the
highway. They are slowly advancing.

As they get closer, the protesters begin yelling at the police.

"All we want is our agreement."

"Go home."

"Send in a negotiator."

The girl is standing beside me. "I'm scared," she says matter-of-factly.

The police advance slowly, advancing several steps, then stopping.
Advancing again.

The line of police divides, leaving an opening. A column of perhaps
fifty riot police emerges. They wear gas masks, oversized helmets in
the Death Star style, and body armour under baggy uniforms. Each one
carries a black baton. At times, some of them will hit their
black-gloved hand with the baton, making what, to the person behind
the mask, was probably a satisfying *smack*.

The police officer in charge issues a half-hearted warning over the
cries of increasingly angry demonstrators.

"Leave the highway, or you will be arrested."

Seeing the masked troops, some run. I notice several children fleeing,
but others stay, and more gather on the highway to protect the
blockade. Elders and youth are the most abundant. I later realize that
most of the adults cannot risk arrest because of conditions imposed on
them after previous demonstrations.

The riot police silently line up on the far side of the highway, and
begin pushing the demonstrators back. A crowd has gathered in front of
the police, holding signs and yelling at the police. A scuffle breaks
out, cops pulling protesters, protesters pulling their own away. An
elder is arrested. I run on to the highway, trying to get a closer
look.

Behind the colouring table, there is a row of concrete-filled barrels
with PVC pipe running through them. A mix of Algonquin demonstrators
and supporters from Ottawa and Montreal have attached their arms to
these "lock boxes" with rope and carabiners in an attempt to forestall
police breaking up the blockade. Next to them are tables and
campfires, which a short time ago were used to serve bacon and eggs,
and then beaver and moose, to those gathered at the blockade. Several
people whose trips had been delayed by the blockade had joined in,
drinking tea from pots warmed by small campfires, before police
separated onlookers from blockade participants.

Seperated by a 100-metre buffer zone, the police could nonetheless be
heard cracking jokes about "caisses de bieres," an eerie allusion to
police transcripts revealed by the Ipperwash Inquiry, where police
made racist jokes about Dudley George before they shot and killed him.

It also brought to mind the slur that made headlines a week before,
when Algonquin spokesperson Norman Matchewan confronted regional
Member of Parliament and cabinet Minister Lawrence Cannon. Speaking to
Matchewan, Cannon's assistant said that negotiations could be
conducted "if you're sober." She was caught on camera, and the "gaffe"
was eventually reported coast to coast as one more example of a
dangerous misstep by Harper's otherwise disciplined election campaign.

The onlookers were unable to see the sign advertising a ban on alcohol
and drugs from the blockade, but that was a fraction of the gap
between the Algonquins' understanding of the situation and those of
the Quebeckers. It's a gap that is too often filled with racist
assumptions before it can inspire curiosity.

I hear a loud *pop*. People scream, run away. Acrid white smoke
billows from a canister launched by police, and I feel a familiar
hollow sting in my throat and sinuses. My eyes burn, and well up, but
I'm relatively unaffected. Elders, youth and kids around me are
coughing and choking, tears streaming down faces. Another canister is
launched. More running and tears. The police, apparently aware of
existing negative connotations, will later deny that they used tear
gas, preferring the term "chemical irritant".

A single CBC radio reporter maneuvres around tear gas and riot police,
holding her microphone, looking stunned. The television cameras left
an hour or so ago.

Immune to the effects of the gas, riot police rush to push people off
the highway. The people in lock-boxes are still there, caught, for the
moment, in the tear gas. One demonstrator stays behind to wipe their
faces with water to lessen the effects. He will be tackled by three
riot cops and arrested later.

Police move to shield the remaining blockaders from view, forming a
human wall around the lock-boxes. Peering between riot police standing
with batons at the ready, we can see an official (he's wearing a
different uniform) giving orders. We see those locked in kicking or
flailing in agony. We will later learn that police used "pain
compliance" methods. We will hear from those who were locked in that
the police pinched and pushed at pressure points, causing severe pain.
We will hear that police told those locked in that by remaining, they
were causing more pain to their comrades. We will hear that police
used a crowbar to attempt to pry one blockader's arm loose. We will
hear about sexual harassment. We will argue about whether or not
"torture" is too strong a word to describe what the police did. We
will decide that causing someone pain in order to convince them to do
something they do not want to do does in fact qualify as torture, but
that the media will not take us seriously if we use that word. An
elder will say that "pain compliance" is a good description of the
government's policies towards the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.

Barriere Lake is where we're headed now, though not voluntarily. Ever
few minutes, the assembled riot police rush forward, pushing the fifty
or so demonstrators further up the access road that leads to Rapid
Lake, the fifty-nine acre reserve that is, for the federal and
provincial governments, the only officially recognized territory of
the 500-member community of Barriere Lake, named for its traditional
summer settlement at a nearby lake. The reserve was created in 1961.

Though they have lived here for thousands of years, the rest of the
territory has been treated as *terra nullius*, empty land, and
exploited accordingly. Hydro Quebec has built dams without consulting
the community, in at least one case submerging a burial ground. Later,
they improved their behaviour by notifying the community ahead of
planned dam construction. The community was forced to move another
burial ground to a nearby island.

Logging companies were allowed to clear the land with impunity, and
with no benefit to the community. For years, community members
peacefully blockaded logging roads, risking violence from loggers and
violence from police.

Despite the presence of several Hydro Quebec dams, the community is
still powered by a diesel generator. According to one estimate, $100
million in revenue is extracted from the Barriere Lake Algonquins'
traditional territory every year. Of that $100 million, the community
receives nothing, and employment opportunities are scarce.

Many of those at the blockade had been sent to residential schools as
children. There, they were abused physically and sexually, and
punished for speaking their mother tongue. The psychological legacy of
this trauma has been compounded by the enforced austerity of the
reserve, where unemployment, deep poverty and inadequate housing is
the norm. Families sleep as many as 15 to a house, and many houses
have fallen into disrepair.

Against this seemingly desperate backdrop, the community's resilience
is impressive. Elders say that their connection to the land, which
they see as intimately tied to their language, is alive and well.
Community members hunt for food, rely on traditional knowledge to
gather medicine and food, and are well acquainted with the land they
still live on, despite the 59-acre boundary.

Their resilience extends to political dealings. After years of
peaceful blockades of logging roads, the community signed the
Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec, a landmark
resource-sharing agreement that was praised by the UN. One academic
observer wrote that the agreement "constitutes a category of its own
and is unmatched in its vision as well as in the problems its
proponents have had to overcome."

"This Agreement was designed to address a situation, where a small
aboriginal community, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in La Verendrye
Park, pursuing an essentially land-based way of life, saw themselves
confronted with aggressive resource exploitation in their traditional
use area..."

Cognizant that government policy does not recognize and accommodate
aboriginal title to the land (at least, not in the current political
climate), they came up with an innovative approach of curbing the
logging, recreational hunting and damming that had taken place on
their traditional territory while giving the community a say in where
and when outside uses of the land would happen. The community spent
considerable time and resources mapping out all of its traditional use
areas, detailing their uses of the indigenous plant and animal life.
The report advocates policies that "sustain and expand the
environmental resource base," while enabling their traditional way of
life to continue.

The first phase of the agreement was signed in 1991. Since then, the
Federal and Provincial governments have done much to try to back out
of it. Twice, they have played politics with divisions within the
community, imposing minority faction Band governments against the
customary leadership selection rules that Indian Affairs is supposed
to uphold.

The last time they did that was in March. Under a Third Party Manager
imposed by Indian Affairs in 2006, new staff were placed in schools,
who punished children for speaking Algonquin. Peaceful blockades
attempting to keep the imposed band chief off the reserve were met
with pepper spray and arrests. Members of the last legitimately
appointed chief and council and their supporters have faced systematic
police harassment.

Since March, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have demonstrated several
times, always demanding the same things: that the government observe a
leadership reselection process and acknowledge the result, and that
the government uphold its obligations under the Trilateral Agreement.
They have been to Ottawa several times. In one case, Algonquins and
several supporters (I was among them) staged a sit-in in Lawrence
Cannon's office.

Rather than promise to meet the demands or negotiate with the
protesters, Cannon ordered police to remove us. Six were arrested.

Media coverage has been anemic. Officials have taken the cynical but
effective tack of framing it as a complicated situation, with many
competing interests and personalities. The truth of this is allowed to
overshadow, if not block out completely, what is straightforward about
the agreement, the community, and their desire to be able to continue
their way of life and govern themselves with dignity. Pressed with
multiple deadlines, journalists do the equivalent of throwing their
hands in the air and call it a "dispute" over "leadership". Racist
assumptions do the heavy lifting, and the message becomes "Indians
fighting over money."

A kid is in the back of a truck that's moving away from the advancing
line of riot police. He's got a faux-gold-encrusted cap on that reads
"millionaire." He sings the chorus of War's 1975 single.

"Why can't we be friends, why can't weee be friends."

The police are pushing us further up the access road that leads to the
reserve. The Algonquins begin to react as if to an insult.

"What, are you going to walk with us all the way to Rapid Lake?"

"Are you going to trap us on that fifty-nine acres?"

"We'll keep coming back, we'll keep fighting."

The last protesters, isolated from hearing the yells of demonstrators,
and made to feel excruciating pain with blankets over their heads,
"clip out" from the lock-boxes, but we can no longer see them. The
police have pushed us a few hundred metres back. Alonquins fall trees
in the road and build fires to block their advance. The riot police
step around the fires and keep coming.

It is past dark, five kilometres away from the highway, at the
reserve. A former chief walks by.

"I guess we've got their answer, eh?"

He smiles as he says it.

Community members have gathered around a campfire. An elder addresses
the non-native supporters.

"We're glad you came," she said.

"Now you see what they do to us."

Kids on the reserve are playing police-themed versions of childhood
games. "I arrested you."

It's the next morning. The community is preparing a feast for the
afternoon. Moose meat, fried bannock, fish caught between shifts at
the blockade. An elder sits in his kitchen, fielding calls from the
media. The media coverage of the blockade and subsequent attack will
be minimal, and limited to local outlets.

"We're going to keep fighting."

His tone makes it clear that there was never any doubt.

--

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Anti-colonial Films Under the Stars II

A Barriere Lake Solidarity & Tadamon! co-presentation

Join us under the moon in downtown Montreal for a triple-bill of documentary films, depicting communities engaged in non-violent struggles against land theft and colonization in Palestine and Canada.

Films: Palestinian Blues (2005, 80 mins)
Blockade! Algonquins Defend the Forest (1990, 25 min)
Algonquins of Barriere Lake (2008, 40 mins)

Where: in the lot beside l'Insoumise, the Anarchist Bookstore
2035 St-Laurent
(between Ontario and Sherbrooke)
metro St-Laurent
When: Thursday, Sept 18 @ 7:30pm (Rain date: Sunday, Sept 21 @ 7:30pm)
Free entry!
*Be sure to bring a blanket, lawn chair and a sweater.

Stay tuned for more events in the Barriere Lake Solidarity Popular Education Series