Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Up until August 2010, when Section 74 was imposed, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake governed themselves by their ancestral constitution, the Mitchikanibikok Anishnabe Onakinakewin – a customary code that connects them to the land, to the animals, to each other, and to everything that grows. They have been using this code of governance since time immemorial.
Indian Affairs claims this drastic measure of imposing the band council election system was taken in attempt to “restore order” to the community, which had been undergoing internal conflicts exacerbated by government interference. But the community was in the process of a serious reconciliation process when the government intervened last August.
There are 3 major consequences to this legal case that we want to bring to the public’s attention:
1. In 1991, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake fought for and won a co-management agreement that would give them a decisive say over 10,000 sq km of their traditional territory. This “Trilateral Agreement” was signed with Canada and Quebec, but both levels of government have failed to honour their agreements. In Canada, the only way for Indigenous peoples to settle land claims is by agreeing to give up 95 percent of their lands and to extinguish their rights and title to these lands. This is called the Comprehensive Land Claims (CLC) process, and it is vigorously contested by First Nations across Canada. Barriere Lake’s Trilateral Agreement offers a viable and path-breaking alternative to surrender and secession that respects the right of Indigenous peoples to manage their lands. The government does not want bands to pursue alternatives to the CLC and they are trying to make an example of Barriere Lake for any other communities contemplating action or agreements outside of the federal policy.
2. There are only a handful of Indian bands left in Canada who have maintained an unbroken line to their customary governance system and who have never been governed under the Indian Act band council provisions. Until August 2010, Barriere Lake was among those communities. If the Minister’s legislative authority to impose band council elections on customary governments is not legally opposed and the decision is not reversed, all customary governments across Canada must be considered to be endangered. The destruction of customary governments is an abrogation of Aboriginal rights as protected in Section 35 of the Constitution and that right must be defended.
3. There are strong links between Barriere Lake’s customary government and the fact that Algonquin is the first language spoken in the community; that the community maintains a strong hunting, fishing, trapping, and harvesting way of life; and that the traditional distribution of families territories and traplines remains intact. Barriere Lake’s jurisdiction over their lands is governed by their Mitchikanibikok Anishnabe Onakinakewin. The government is attempting to sever the Algonquins’ connection to the land by obliterating their traditional governance codes. The amount of traditional ecological knowledge that the Algonquins of Barriere Lake carry in their language, laws, and ways of life are now at risk and therefore pose a risk to all Algonquin and non-Algonquin communities affected by the extensive waterways and land base of their territory. Once this encyclopedic knowledge is lost, it can never be regained.
Please commit whatever you can to keeping this struggle alive. Barriere Lake’s customary government receives no monies from the government and have fought courageously and tenaciously for over 20 years to protect their vision of environmentally sustainable development on their lands.
Legal expenses are expected to rise into the tens of thousands of dollars this year.
631 King Edward Ave. (3rd floor / 3ieme étage),
Ottawa, ON, K1N 7N8.
Please make checks out to “Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa” with “Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund” in the memo line.
Please contact us for information on direct deposit: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Section 74 or to find out how you can reach the community directly for support, please contact us.
For a good background video on Section 74 and the Barriere Lake struggle, please see this short 3-minute film: http://vimeo.com/23103527
Friday, July 22, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Barriere Lake Algonquins celebrate mining company’s decision to suspend exploration in their territory: Charest’s turn to act, community says
Kitiganik, Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / – The Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake is celebrating the recent decision of Cartier Resources Inc. to suspend the Rivière Doré copper mining project in their traditional territory in north-western Quebec, after the community expressed their overwhelming opposition to exploration activities and a potential mine these activities could lead to.
“The community applauds Cartier Resources for respecting our wishes that no mining exploration and drilling proceed. The company is setting an important precedent by not moving ahead without the free, prior and informed consent of the community, a right recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson for Barriere Lake.
President and CEO of Cartier Resources Philippe Cloutier stated in a release that the suspension shows the company’s “respect for stakeholders in this area.”  Cartier's Rivière Doré exploration project is within an area already covered by an agreement signed between Quebec and Canada and the First Nation in 1991. This Trilateral Agreement – a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometres of Barriere Lake’s traditional territory – has been praised by the United Nations, but both Quebec and Canada have refused to implement it.
Mining exploration was halted in March, when contract workers complied with requests by community members to leave the exploration site. In May, Barriere Lake’s Elders Council issued a letter to the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife and the CEO of Cartier Resources pledging that the community would peacefully block any resource extraction like mining on their traditional territory until the Trilateral Agreement is implemented. Community members then travelled to Montreal to speak at the company's annual general meeting, where they reiterated their opposition to the mine. In June, community members camped out on the exploration site to stop test drilling from proceeding. On the company's request Quebec has now suspended the term of Cartier Resource's 1,052 mineral claims in the territory until July 3rd 2013. No exploration activity can take place on the claims during this time.
“We call on the Quebec government to follow Cartier Resources’ lead by withdrawing any mineral claims in the entire area of the Trilateral Agreement until they have implemented the Trilateral Agreement. If Premier Jean Charest is committed to sustainable development and a just relationship with First Nations, this should be his natural next step,” said Matchewan.
"Cartier Resources is to be congratulated on its decision to respect the right of the Algonquin to consent to activities in their territory," added Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. "This, however, was a voluntary decision by the company that points out Quebec's failure to work with the Algonquin and other First Nations such as the Innu and Mohawk to develop a protocol for consultation and consent of mining activities in their territories.”
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Norman Matchewan, community spokesperson: 819-215-0741
Michel Thusky, community spokesperson: 819-435-2171
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada: 613-569-3439
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
JUNE 21st & 22nd - Aboriginal Day Celebrations: 8-Hour Radio-a-thon, Mini Pow Wow, Art Expo, and Native Friendship Centre Montreal’s Grand Re-Opening
Barriere Lake Solidarity is co-sponsoring:
The Native Friendship Centre of Montreal (NFCM), the Inter-Tribal Youth Centre (ITYC), and Radio CKUT, 90.3FM to celebrate Aboriginal peoples, the summer solstice, and the grand re-opening of the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal after months of massive renovation.
Tuesday, June 21st, 11-7pm
Location: Empty lot beside DIRA, anarchist bookstore, St Laurent (between Ontario and Sherbrooke)
Native Friendship Centre Montreal, 2001 St. Laurent (metro St. Laurent)
11-7pm VOICES OF OUR NATIONS, 3rd annual, 8-hour Radio Broadcast, featuring live guests and performances by indigenous artists, musicians and community members, as well as exploring issues that affect indigenous communities in Canada (listen live on 90.3fm or ckut.ca)
*LAUNCH of Native youth hip hop and rap musical productions. Over the last six months, youth at the ITYC have produced a repertoire of songs as part of the their monthly radio program, Native Solidarity News on CKUT, that will be performed and played during the Voices of Our Nations broadcast.
*FEATURING: Odaya, Ti: ohtiake Drum Group, Chelsea Vowel, Moe Clark, Iqi Balam, Beatrice Deer, Pachuco, Michelle Smith of Ota Nda Yanaan, Marco on flutes & drum, Open Mic
COMMUNITY LUNCH, free!
2-5 PM OPEN AIR STONE CARVING, by local artists and the Mikinak stone carving cooperative project of the ITYC, plus arts and traditional crafts exhibition
5-7pm COMMUNITY FEAST, share in traditional foods prepared for the community, free!
Wednesday, June 22nd, 10-7pm
Location: Native Friendship Centre Montreal, 2001 St. Laurent (metro St. Laurent)
10am - NFCM Grand Re-Opening begins
12pm - GRAND ENTRY
12pm-5pm - MINI POW-WOW (dancers, drummers, vendors all welcome)
ART EXPO & AUCTION, including stone carvings done by local artists and native youth
6pm - COMMUNITY FEAST
DIRA, anarchist lending library, QPIRG Concordia, QPIRG McGill, 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, Projects Autochtones du Quebec (PAQ), First People's House McGill, KANATA, Missing Justice, Frigo Vert, People's Potato, Barriere Lake Solidarity
For more info: www.ckut.ca
Contact: Ashanti Rosado, 514 499 1854 x2229 (email@example.com)
Courtney Kirkby, CKUT Radio, 514 448 4041 x6788 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Friday, May 20, 2011
Barriere Lake Algonquin affirm opposition to mine during Montreal company meeting: threat of mining on their land exposes failure of Quebec’s Mining Act
Montreal /– Today, community members from the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake traveled to Montreal to attend the annual general meeting of Val-D'Or-based Cartier Resources Inc., where they affirmed that the overwhelming majority of their First Nation is opposed to the company’s Rivière Doré copper mining project moving forward on their traditional territory. A solidarity demonstration will happen outside of the shareholders meeting at 11:30 am at Dorchester Square, the corner of Peel and Rene-Levesque.
“The Charest government’s planned amendments to Quebec’s Mining Act do nothing to address the basic human rights violation at its core: the fact that no communities, including First Nations, have the right to give their free, prior and informed consent to a mining project,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson for Barriere Lake.
The right to free, prior and informed consent to any development is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been endorsed by the Canadian government.
In March, Barriere Lake community members discovered copper exploration activities on their traditional territory, south-east of Val D’Or, Quebec. The land has never been ceded by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, who hold constitutionally-protected Aboriginal title and rights at the site of the potential mine.
The land is also already covered by an agreement signed between Quebec and Canada and the First Nation in 1991. This Trilateral Agreement – a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometres of Barriere Lake’s traditional territory – has been praised by the United Nations, but both Quebec and Canada have refused to implement it.
The Elders Council of Barriere Lake issued a letter to the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife on May 2 declaring that the community will not allow any resource extraction like mining on their traditional territory until the Trilateral Agreement is implemented.
“Charest’s claim that the Mining Act amendments fit the ‘principles of sustainable development’ is totally hollow,” said Matchewan."If the Quebec government were concerned about sustainable development, they would not allow a mining company to explore and open a mine against the wishes of a community, to engage in activities that will have negative impacts on the land, water, animals and plants that we depend on. We will not allow this mine to be built.”
The mineral exploration activities have currently stopped, after community members went to the potential mine site to request that the workers leave. The workers respected the community’s wishes.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Dear friends and supporters of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake,
Since the great outpouring of support at the Ottawa demonstration in December against the imposition of the Indian Act on their community, a great many of things have transpired on Barriere Lake’s territory. Stronger than ever, the community is ready to fight back and needs your help.
Please read the update posted below and stay tuned for ways to get involved.
Barriere Lake Solidarity
1. MINING ALERT ON ALGONQUIN TERRITORY
2. REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INDIAN ACT BAND COUNCIL
3. REPORT ON SECTION 74 LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN
1. MINING ALERT ON ALGONQUIN TERRITORY
Barriere Lake Algonquins say “No” to mining exploration on their land, Cree workers agree to leave site
RAPID LAKE, QC – Last week, Barriere Lake community members discovered that Val D' Or based Cartier Resources has begun line-cutting in preparation for mining exploration on their unceded Aboriginal lands. According to their website, the mining company claims that their “100% owned” land base of 439 square kilometers boasts rich copper deposits ripe for exploitation.
The so-called “Rivière Doré Project” was undertaken without obtaining the community’s free, prior, and informed consent – the minimum standards set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), which Canada has endorsed in words but not in action. The mining project also violates the community’s own environmental protection regime, the Trilateral Agreement, which was signed in 1991 by Barriere Lake, Quebec, and Canada and has yet to be honoured.
The workers on site, predominantly Crees from the Mistassini and Oujebougamou First Nations, agreed to leave when the Algonquins traveled to the proposed mine location and explained their opposition to the development. The larger battle with the Cartier Resources, however, looms ahead.
Barriere Lake community members will return to maintain a presence at the proposed mining site and stop all further developments. Please stay tuned for further developments and action call-outs.
2. REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INDIAN ACT BAND COUNCIL
The community remains largely in the dark concerning the activities of the band council. Illegitimate in the eyes of most people in the community, this band council rose to power through the imposition of an Indian Act provision (Section 74) that gives the Minister of Indian Affairs discretion to overthrow Indigenous customary government systems.
One thing is clear, though: Barriere Lake is open for business now. Mining companies, logging companies, and costly Hydro electrification and reserve housing development have all been green-lighted by the band council.
While investments in reserve infrastructure are badly needed, they are coming at the price of burying the larger issue of land management of the whole territory.
3. REPORT ON SECTION 74 LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN
Hundred of letters have been sent through the Barriere Lake Solidarity website to Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan in protest of the forced imposition of Section 74 on the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (see http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/2008/03/donations.html). The Department has recently sent out replies to these letters which are telling of Canada’s communications strategy to contain the threat of public awareness on the issue.
Responding to these letters is Pierre Nepton, the Director General of the Quebec Region of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Nepton outlines the “official” story in his response letter: INAC had no choice but to reluctantly impose Section 74 due to internal conflicts over governance, which the community failed to resolve themselves.