Sunday, June 13, 2010

UPDATES: Indian Affairs announces election date; SQ harassment escalates; Canadian spies visit Barriere Lake solidarity activist

a) The Department of Indian Affairs has circulated a notice in Barriere
Lake announcing they intend to hold section 74 Indian Action band
elections on August 19, 2010, and nomination meetings for a Chief and six
Counselors on July 8th. The community has every intention of resisting
Indian Affairs' attempts to abolish their traditional governance system.


b) There has been an escalation in harassment by the Quebec Police, known
as the Surete du Quebec (SQ), who have been policing Barriere Lake's
reserve since April 1, 2010. Community members have been regularly pulled
over on the highway and on the access road to their reserve. Some women
have recounted being pulled over by an SQ officer and being made the
subject of sexist remarks. "What have you got there in back seat? Got
something for me?" they were asked. The officer then followed them home in
his cruiser after telling them, "I'm going to come over and sleep with you
guys."

The escalation is an indication that the Canadian and Quebec governments
may attempt to use the Quebec police to impose their political dictates,
as they've done in the past. Barriere Lake's supporters will need to be
vigilant and hold their governments to account, lest they attempt to push
through section 74 Indian Act elections with brute force.


c) Read a description of how CSIS agents visited and harassed a member of
the Barriere Lake solidarity collective in Montreal, an indication of the
lengths the federal government is willing to go to to undermine the
community's struggle for their rights :
http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/martin-lukacs/3622


d) The Green Party of Canada issued a press release on June 9th endorsing
Barriere Lake's struggle to protect their traditional governance system:
http://greenparty.ca/media-release/2010-06-09/algonquins-barriere-lake-trying-protect-governance-system


.....AND PLEASE remember to support the Algonquins of Barriere by writing
a letter to relevant politicians, or attending the upcoming event and
demonstration in Ottawa on June 14 & 15.


EVERYWHERE: Write/call/fax Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and
Indian Affairs Quebec Regional Director Pierre Nepton:
http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

OTTAWA: JOIN Barriere Lake community members in Ottawa on June 14 and 15 2010

June 14: Feast and Celebration of Customary Government:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125575680806297

6:30PM, Monday, June 14, 2010
Mac Hall, Bronson Centre at 211 Bronson Avenue, Ottawa, ALGONQUIN
TERRITORY

June 15: Demonstration: Stop Harper and Strahl’s Elimination of Algonquin
Customary Government:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128467113839884

11:30AM, Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In front of Indian Affair’s Minister Chuck Strahl’s office
Bank St and Wellington St, Ottawa, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY


FOR MORE INFORMATION : http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com,
http://www.ipsmo.org

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Minister Strahl attempts to forcibly assimilate the Barriere Lake Algonquin’s Customary Government in order to quash historic resource agreements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kitiganik, Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - Barriere Lake community
members are uniting to oppose Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl’s
attempt to unilaterally abolish Barriere Lake’s customary governance
system. A large number of Barriere Lake youth and other community members
will hold demonstrations in Ottawa on June 15.

Barriere Lake is one of the few First Nations in the country who have
never been under the Indian Act’s electoral system, continuing instead to
operate under a Customary Governance Code.

Indian Affairs has announced they will try to convene Indian Act band
elections in the community on August 19, 2010.

“The Minister’s attempt to forcibly assimilate our customs using section
74 of the Indian Act is a violation of our Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty
rights, which are protected by the Canadian constitution, and is a
violation of numerous articles of the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Prime Minister Harper claims the
Canadian government will endorse,” says Norman Matchewan, a Barriere Lake
community spokesperson.

The Minister’s decision also contradicts a recent Federal Court decision
concerning Barriere Lake’s leadership. On February 17, 2010, Federal Court
Judge Robert Mainville concluded in the case of Ratt v. Matchewan that
Barriere Lake can “select their leadership in accordance with their
customs unimpeded by any conditions or requirements which the Minister may
deem appropriate.” In line with the Judge’s recommendations, the
community members of Barriere Lake are creating an internal working group
to reconcile differences, and to review their Customary Governance Code.

“The Canadian government is trying to forcibly assimilate our customs so
they can sever our connection to the land, which is at the heart of our
governance system,” says Tony Wawatie, a Barriere Lake community
spokesperson. “They don’t want to deal with a strong leadership, selected
by community members who live on the land, that demands that the federal
and Quebec governments implement agreements regarding the exploitation of
our lands and resources.”

Canada and Quebec are refusing to implement binding agreements dating back
to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development
agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the Agreement since 2001.
Quebec is violating the agreement by refusing to implement the 2006 joint
recommendations of two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special
representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative
Clifford Lincoln. The 2006 recommendations include giving Barriere Lake a
$1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out
of their territory annually, and forest plans to harmonize logging
operations with the Algonquin's land use.

Quebec has just issued cutting permits to logging companies in Barriere
Lake's traditional territory, while refusing to respect the terms of the
Trilateral Agreement.

" Quebec is taking advantage of the leadership situation to break signed
agreements and illegally allow forestry companies to log on our
territory,” said Tony Wawatie. “But community members and youth plan to
defend our rights forthe sake of our generation and the generations to
come.”

- 30 -

Media contacts:

Tony Wawatie, community spokesperson : 819-860-4121

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Harper, Strahl Erasing Algonquin Traditional Government by Imposing Indian Act, Sect 74




ANNOUNCING A CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT THE ALGONQUINS OF BARRIERE LAKE
OPPOSE SECTION 74 of the INDIAN ACT:
HARPER, STRAHL TO WIPE OUT THE BARRIERE LAKE ALGONQUINS’ CUSTOMARY GOVERNANCE SYSTEM



Feast and Celebration of Customary Governance

6:30PM, Monday, June 14, 2010
Mac Hall, Bronson Centre at 211 Bronson Avenue, Ottawa, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

Demonstration: Stop Harper’s Elimination of Algonquin Traditional Government

11:30AM, Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In front of Indian Affair’s Minister Chuck Strahl’s office
Bank St and Wellington St, Ottawa, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

Everyone is Welcome!

The Canadian government is forcibly assimilating Barriere Lake’s customary governance system using an archaic and rarely invoked piece of Indian Act legislation – Section 74. This strategy is a draconian, last ditch attempt to sever the community’s connection to the land, which is at the heart of their governance system. By breaking their connection to the land, the Canadian and Quebec governments hope to get away with violating resource-use agreements and illegally clear-cutting in their traditional territory.

Section 74 hasn’t been forcibly imposed on a community since 1924, when the Canadian government unilaterally deposed the traditional government of Six Nations, padlocking shut the Haudenasaunee Confederacy lodge.

Barriere Lake is one of only two dozen Native communities still operating with their traditional governance system. They attribute the strength of their community, language, knowledge and protection of the land to its endurance. The impacts of losing their customary government would have devastating consequences on their way of life.

There is a broad consensus in Barriere Lake in favour of retaining their customs and against a Section 74 order erasing their Customary government.

Take a stand today!
Support the Barriere Lake Algonquins and their inherent right to govern themselves according to their customs:


EVERYWHERE: Write/call/fax Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Indian Affairs Quebec Regional Director Pierre Nepton: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

OTTAWA: JOIN Barriere Lake community members in Ottawa on June 14 and 15 2010

June 14: Feast and Celebration of Customary Government: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125575680806297

June 15: Demonstration: Stop Harper and Strahl’s Elimination of Algonquin Customary Government: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128467113839884

TORONTO: Come MARCH with community members at the Indigenous Day of Action Against the G8/G20 on June 24th in Toronto: http://www.defendersoftheland.org/story/179

June 24: Day of Action for Indigenous Rights!
11:00AM, March start point: Queen’s Park, South Lawn
To arrange a bus ride from Ottawa to Toronto for June 24, please send your request at http://g20.torontomobilize.org/ottawatranspo

---> For more info, to donate, or to endorse the campaign: please email barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com, www.ipsmo.org



:::: BACKGROUND ::::

Barriere Lake Algonquins live on their unceded territory 300 kilometers north of Ottawa, in Quebec. They govern themselves by a customary system, the Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin. Unlike most First Nations, they have never had band elections imposed on them by the federal government through the Indian Act.

Section 74 of the Indian Act states that the Minister of Indian Affairs can impose an electoral system on First Nations with customary leadership selection processes:

“Whenever he deems it advisable for the good government of a band, the Minister may declare by order that after a day to be named therein the council of the band, consisting of a chief and councillors, shall be selected by elections to be held in accordance with this Act.”

On April 8, 2010, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl signed off an order to invoke section 74, initiating the process to impose Indian Act band elections on Barriere Lake. The federal government has already hired an electoral officer to oversee this process, meaning elections could take place within a matter of months.

Despite its inclusion in the Indian Act, section 74-imposed band elections would be a violation of Barriere Lake’s Indigenous customs, a draconian interference in their internal affairs, a breach of their constitutionally-protected Aboriginal right to a customary system of government, and a violation of the minimum standards included in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is an attempt to politically weaken the community, by destroying the way they have governed themselves since time immemorial.

The affirmation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution in 1982 guarantees Barriere Lake’s right to maintain their customary system of government. There has been absolutely no case-law since 1982 that would indicate that the Minister has the power to infringe on Barriere Lake’s rights.

The Government move also contradicts a recent Federal Court decision concerning Barriere Lake’s leadership. On February 17, 2010, Federal Court Judge Robert Mainville concluded in the case of Ratt v. Matchewan that Barriere Lake can “select their leadership in accordance with their customs unimpeded by any conditions or requirements which the Minister may deem appropriate.”

But the Canadian government, even if they had Canadian law on their side, would have no authority to interfere with Barriere Lake’s inherent jurisdiction over their lands, which precedes Canadian sovereignty claims by thousands of years. Barriere Lake has never ceded their lands by treaty or agreement and continue to exercise their jurisdiction over their lands by responsibly managing the territory.

Barriere Lake’s customary government is tied to their use of the land – hunting, fishing, trapping, harvesting over their vast traditional territories. Only those band members who live within their territories and have knowledge and connection to the land can participate in their customary system of government. The position of Chief is based on hereditary entitlement, but other factors are equally or more important, including leadership abilities, knowledge of the land, and community support. Elders have a key role in the leadership selection process, ensuring the customs are respected. They oversee a blazing ceremony, nominating potential leadership candidates who are then approved or rejected by community members in public assemblies. Leadership requires the consent of the governed. Leaders can be removed at any time. Such a directly democratic form of government accords well with the community’s decentralized organization.

For the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, their governance system is one of the sources of their political strength and assertiveness: eligible community members have a stake in the land, and they will select leaders who ensure its protection and responsible management.

But if the Canadian government can impose section 74 Indian Act band elections, this will change. Elders will lose customary responsibility for cultivating leaders and for shepherding leadership selections. Voting by secret ballot would undermine the consensus-based, directly democratic process. Fixed terms for elections would destroy the hereditary elements of their system. Indian Act elections would open eligibility for selecting leaders to people on the band registry list, not just those who live and use the traditional territory. As in many First Nations across the country, off-reserve band members who have no stake in the land’s protection but a say in elections or referendums concerning agreements or modern treaties will likely vote for cash deals that may extinguish Inherent, Aboriginal, or Treaty rights to the land.

The federal government’s attack on the community’s inherent right to a customary governance system has served the ends of the Quebec government, which has been allowing forestry companies to illegally log in Barriere Lake’s traditional territory, without consulting and in areas that are supposed to be off-bounds under the terms of the 1991 Trilateral agreement.

—->Please take a moment to support a community that has protected their territory from extractive industries for decades at great expense and sacrifice to their lives.

DEMAND THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPECT BARRIERE LAKE’S CUSTOMARY GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

SEND AN EMAIL VIA THE BARRIERE LAKE SOLIDARITY WEBSITE: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html



Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière
*******************************************
www.solidaritelacbarriere.blogspot.com
barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com
514.398.7432