Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some Clarifications Regarding the Current Situation at the Poigan Bay Area

Conflicting information, some of it false, has been circulating regarding the situation on the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake. We ask that those who wish to support the community be mindful of this, and be aware that the situation is far from simple. As events unfold, we are keeping in touch with a number of people from the community, including those we have worked with over the last four and a half years.

At this point, after consultation with community members, we would like to make a few comments which seem helpful. 

Beginning on July 4, 2012, the main harvesters of the Poigan Bay area, supported by the community, protested at the logging site against clear-cut logging by Resolute Forest Products. After two weeks of maintaining pressure against the company, they managed to get the government to agree to protect sacred sites, moose habitat, and other significant areas, under a process called “measures to harmonize”.  

A faction of the extended family members of the main harvesters did not want any forestry operation to proceed and decided to block the operations. The forest company, Resolute Forest Products, then filed a legal injunction to prevent the family members from disrupting the clear-cutting. The company was then granted a second request to extend the injunction to include anyone and everyone. This second injunction blocks the whole community from taking any action that might protect the lands from forestry operations over the coming weeks. 

There have been incorrect claims made on Facebook and on the Toronto Media Coop website alleging that community members “sold” land to Resolute and that they did nothing to fight the injunction. The community is taking whatever legal measures possible to fight the injunction, in fact, which is extremely difficult, because they don’t have the financial means to defend themselves and are raising money at the moment to support this cause.

For clarification on the demands of the Barriere Lake community regarding Poigan Lake, please see an update from community member Tony Wawatie here. Tony's father is the main harvester of the lands being logged.

It is important that MNR take further action to stop the damage that is underway. Namely, MNR should release the documents it agreed to provide to community members and implement the measures to harmonize process in a timely fashion, before other sensitive areas are destroyed. It will also be important for there to be continued pressure on Resolute Forest Products in the weeks to come. It is tragic that things have proceeded to this point, though unfortunately not surprising.

We will post further updates as the situation evolves.

Clarification from Barriere Lake Community Member Tony Wawatie

Below is a clarification written by Tony Wawatie on August 2, 2012. Tony is a member of the Barriere Lake community and son of Gabriel Wawatie, one of the main harvesters of the lands (the Poigan Bay area) being logged this July and August.

"I am writing to share and to clear up the confusion that has been created regarding the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.

It had come to the attention of the community members that illegal logging was happening in the Poigan Bay area. The main harvesters of the area were not consulted. We were supposed to be consulted and accommodated. 

The main harvesters, Gabriel Wawatie and Jeannette Wawatie (daughter of the late Customary Chief Harry Wawatie) mobilized themselves to set up camp, along with other family members, to protest against the illegal logging that was happening. It must be duly noted, it was not a blockade. We knew that we would be arrested charged, criminalized and tied up by the courts. We also recognize the fact that it is a costly avenue to go through courts, and we didn’t have the necessary means to pay for this. There was strong police presence to ensure that illegal logging took place.

We had to come up with a strategy to address our concerns. In a letter sent to Ministry of Natural Resources dated July 4, 2012 (and July 9, 2012), we requested the cut plans since 2007 within our community traditional territory, volume of wood harvested in those cut blocks, by species and the name of the logging companies and a copy of their scale slips.

A meeting was set up with the ministry of Natural resources along with Gabriel Wawatie and all to minimize the already damaged area. The map shows that there was 72 cut blocks that were supposed to happen. It was agreed that six cut blocks would be cut under the harmonization measures. The areas that we wanted to be protected were a gigantic moose yard and other scared areas. Resolute have the cutting permits and they cut the birch species, which is what the moose depend on for their subsistence.

Under the customary leadership, the late Chief-Elder Harry Wawatie knew that we could not stop all activities in the traditional territory of ABL. Within the trilateral agreement, we had a decisive voice on how logging practices should happen. Under this agreement, ABL wanted to deal with the immediate problems, such as the over exploitation of logging. As a matter of a fact, ABL was able to change Quebec‘s policies on logging, which is measures to harmonize under the framework of the trilateral agreement.

The long term plan was to have an Integrated resource management plan, which would allow us to have a say on how territory is to be manage, taking in to account all users. The trilateral agreement is considered a treaty by Judge Rejean Paul in one of his reports. Under this agreement there was a short term plan and a long term plan.

The short term plan was to deal with the immediate problems, such as logging activities and for ABL to give input in this process. This is where measures to harmonize come into play, which was agreed by Gabriel Wawatie and Jeannette Wawatie.

The long term process was to implement the INTERGRATED REOURCE MANAGEMNT PLAN (IRMP). We knew we could not deal with the ABORIGINAL TITLE question. And we knew it would take decades and maybe longer.
There were 7 joint recommendations that were tabled by two former Senior Quebec Cabinet
Ministers, Clifford Lincoln (ABL rep) and JohnChiachai (quebec rep). Under the trilateral agreement, the special representatives’ joint recommendations deal with the seven points:

1. Recognition of the Trilateral Agreement Territory,
2. Integrated Resource Management Plan,
3. Participation in management of renewable resources,
4. Revenue sharing and access to resources,
5. Expansion of the land base in Rapid Lake,
6. Electrification of Rapid Lake,
7. Signing of a legally binding document.

This is what we had agreed to when the Late Elder Customary Chief Wawatie was a alive.

As you may all be aware there were arrests made yesterday (August 1, 2012) on the Jacob Wawatie group. It is heartbreaking when your brothers and sisters are being arrested and criminalized. These individuals that were arrested were charged with mischief. Our members have approached them and talked to them but they want ALL activities be stopped. We have an agreement in place and it should be honoured by the governments. If the INAC council wants to help, they should tell quebec to implement the joint recommendations mentioned above.

I do not know what their (Jacob Wawatie) plan is nor will they share it. Actually, I’m not sure if they even have a plan. We have tried to reason with them and to come to a common ground, but they chose to get arrested and criminalized. I do not know what kind of legal advice they are getting but it’s sad to see that there is a great lack of legal advice for this group. Meanwhile we are fighting a “BIG MONSTER”, as my late uncle-elder Customary Chief Wawatie stated to me at one time. We are here, they are here, how do we co-exist! 


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WIN! Resistance by Barriere Lake and supporters results in Quebec concession over logging

Thanks to the resistance and determination of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the thousand people who sent online letters and the 200 who joined last week’s powerful Montreal demonstration outside the offices of Resolute Forest Products and Premier Jean Charest, the Quebec government and forestry company have been forced to make a significant concession. They have agreed to respect an aspect of the Trilateral agreement by harmonizing logging with Barriere Lake's use of their lands, which is an important step forward in the community’s struggle to protect their land rights and the environment.

After the protest in Montreal a week and a half ago, and after a number of successful stoppages of the forestry operations by Algonquins camped out for two weeks, the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources sat down for negotiations with community representatives. What was agreed to is a precarious but important step in the community’s long struggle to pressure the Quebec and Canadian governments to honour their landmark Trilateral Agreement.

The logging that had been happening on Barriere Lake’s land was illegal because Quebec has refused to implement the Trilateral Agreement, without which no forestry operations should be happening. The agreement is intended to create a sustainable model of forestry in which Barriere Lake jointly manages 10,000 square kilometres of their traditional territory with the province. The agreement is a model for First Nations fighting to protect their land rights.

Forest Resolute Products had refused to respect a process of consultation and accommodation that is part of the Trilateral Agreement – called “measures to harmonize.” Forestry companies who want to operate on Barriere Lake’s land must not compromise the way that the Algonquins’ use the land – meaning logging is not allowed to
happen where the community has hunting cabins, in areas of moose and bear habitat, sacred areas, medicinal sites and many other areas of concern to the community.

Because of community's direct action and public pressure, the Quebec government and Resolute Forest Products have now agreed to comply by the “measures to harmonize”!


Barriere Lake needs its supporters to remain vigilant to ensure Resolute Forest Products respects the "measures to harmonize."

Even more importantly, we need to continue building pressure on the Quebec and Canadian governments to finally implement the Trilateral and Bilateral Agreements. The Charest government has been so brazen in its disregard for the law and its contempt for Barriere Lake that it has refused to honour the binding outcomes of negotiations conducted by two former Liberal Cabinet Ministers! In 2006, a negotiator for the Quebec, John Ciaccia, and a negotiator for Barriere Lake, Clifford Lincoln, issued the recommendation that the agreement be implemented. Quebec does not want to implement this agreement because it sets precedents in giving Indigenous peoples control over developments on their territories.

MEDIA COVERAGE OF PROTESTS: http://ipsmo.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/coverage-abl-logging-protest/

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


A group of Barriere Lake Algonquins have been camped out at Poigan Lake, Quebec for almost a week now, determined not to leave the site until Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitibiBowater) agrees to stop clear-cut logging their unceded territory and engage in a meaningful consultation process with the community. See below and added posts at www.ipsmo.org for ongoing coverage of the situation.

The community is now asking for crucial outside support in order to increase pressure on the government and forestry companies to meet the demands of the traditional land-holders. Please take a few minutes to support their struggle to protect their lands and identity by sending a letter to the Minister, attending a casserole action in Montreal, or donating money for supplies.


Take 3 minutes to click this link http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/2007/10/blog-post.html and send a letter to Resolute Forest Products, the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada (of which Resolute is a member).


From Montreal to Barriere Lake: Solidarity against police repression

Wednesday, July 18th at 11:30am
at 111 Duke street (between Wellington and Ottawa),
10 minute walk from Metro Square-Victoria
In front of the offices of the logging company, Resolute Forest Products

Last week, Resolute Forest Products (formerly known as Abitibi-Bowater) began active clear-cut logging on the traditional territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, five hours north of Montreal, on land that is crucial for their culture and survival as a people. The logging company and government have ignored repeated demands by the community for consultation, despite resource-sharing agreements signed by both the provincial and federal governments that require this kind of community participation.

Rather than talking with the community, the government sent the riot squad of Sûreté du Québec (SQ) to enforce the continuation of logging, and threatened to arrest the families who are currently camping near the logging site.

Montreal-based supporters of the people of Barriere Lake are calling for a lunchtime casserole outside of the logging company offices to demand that they stop their logging and consult with the people of Barriere Lake. After a rally in front of the logging company office, we will continue towards the office of Premier Charest, to protest the criminalization of popular struggle by the government of Quebec. Casseroles began in Montreal as a rejection of attempts by the government to criminalize the popular movement of the students through Law 78 and police repression. For indigenous communities such as Barriere Lake, the struggle against the criminalization and repression of their communities has been ongoing for generations as they struggle to defend their land.

No to the criminalization of popular struggle!
Solidarity with indigenous defence of the land!
Solidarity with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake!


Please give generously through our PayPal account: http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/2008/03/donations.html (Scroll down for PayPal button). All funds will go directly, with no administration costs, towards supporting the community's efforts. If you have food to donate in either the Ottawa or Montreal areas, please contact barrierelakesolidaritytoronto@gmail.com for more information.


Check out www.ipsmo.org for the most frequent ongoing coverage of the land defense camp. Please share within your networks. Better yet, write or pitch a story for your local newspaper or radio station.


The sign-up box is in the right column of this website.


For an excellent, 4 minute video introduction, click here.

For more resources, check out the 'Background' section of this website.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ALERT: Algonquins threaten blockade while Montreal riot cops stand on alert

Charest government allows logging by Resolute Forest Products in violation of Agreement, as supporters prepare casserole demo in Montreal on

July 16, Poigan Bay, QC – As the standoff between the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, QC, and Resolute Forest Products (formerly known as Abitibi-Bowater) enters its thirteenth day, members of the Algonquin community are moving their protest camp site closer to logging operations to prevent further cutting.

Algonquin families have camped alongside the road where logging has been destroying the community's sacred sites and moose habitat, and have succeeded in periodically stopping the cutting. Quebec police, including a riot squad from Montreal, have escorted the loggers and maintained a large presence, issuing threats of arrest to community members.

The Montreal-based multi-national company's operations have been licensed by the Charest government without the Algonquin community's consent or consultation, and in violation of the Trilateral Agreement the Quebec government signed with Barriere Lake in 1991.

“I was not properly consulted nor did I provide consent to this logging within our territory,” said Algonquin elder Gabriel Wawatie, whose family territory is being clear-cut, in a letter last week to Premier Charest and the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources that has not been responded to by the Liberal government.

"The Charest government has acted in bad faith, giving this company the go-ahead to log while they ignore their signed agreements with our community," said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson. "It has left us with no choice but to try to stop forestry operations. We have been waiting 20 years for the Quebec government to honour it."

Barriere Lake wants Quebec to honour the Trilateral agreement, a landmark sustainable development agreement praised by the United Nations. The Charest government has also ignored the formal recommendations of two former Quebec Liberal Cabinet Ministers, Quebec representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake representative Clifford Lincoln, that the agreement be implemented. The agreement is intended to allow logging to continue while protecting the Algonquins' way of life and giving them a $1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out of their territory every year.

A casserole demonstration in support of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake has been called for this Wednesday (July 18th) at 11:30am, at the Resolute headquarters in Montreal.


Contact: Community spokesperson Norman Matchewan, 819-435-2171, 819-527-0414

Monday, July 9, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Logging proceeds without consent on territory of Algonquins of Barriere Lake

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Logging proceeds without consent on territory of Algonquins of Barriere Lake

Resolute Forest Products, formerly Abitibi Bowater, logging land that includes sacred grounds

July 9, Poigan Bay, QC – Resolute Forest Products, formerly known as Abitibi Bowater, began cutting last Tuesday on land of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake without proper community consultation or consent. The logging is taking place near Poigan Bay, Quebec, on land that includes sacred grounds and important moose habitat, according to community spokesperson Norman Matchewan.

In a letter sent to Premier Charest on July 4, elder Gabriel Wawatie states: “As one of the main harvesters, I was not properly consulted nor provided a written consent to this logging within our territory.”

Despite the lack of consultation, the Ministry of Natural Resources office in Maniwaki issued permits for the logging to take place.

Wawatie’s letter continues: “This clearly demonstrates your ministry’s lack of respect of the highest court ruling on the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations,” referring to the Supreme Court ruling on Haida Nation vs. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. “Therefore we are requesting that you cease logging operations in our territory.”

Last month, in a recent provincial court case, the same forestry company (Resolute Forest Products, formerly known as Abitibi Bowater) attempted to sue one of the youth leaders of Barriere Lake, Norman Matchewan. Vincent Larin, from the Maniwaki Ministry of Natural Resources office, issued two cutting permits for the same logging site (cutting block) in Barriere Lake territory that also included sacred sites. Fortunately, the forestry company lost their court case when the foreman contradicted his original statement and got caught lying on the stand.

In recent years, the community of Barriere Lake has resisted numerous resource extraction projects slated for their land. Most recently, members of the community confronted mining company Copper One at the company’s AGM in Montreal, opposing their mining exploration on Barriere Lake territory.


Contact: Norman Matchewan, 819-435-2171



Thank you to all who sent messages in support of the community. This tool is no longer opperational.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Barriere Lake First Nation protests at annual meeting of mining company drawn to Quebec by Plan Nord

No Mineral Exploration On Our Territory Without Consultation and Community Consent

Montreal – Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 
At 10am today at 2000 McGill College avenue, representatives from Barriere Lake and their supporters will be gathering outside the annual meeting of shareholders of Copper One.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake will be sending a clear message to Copper One Inc. and its shareholders: no mineral exploration can take place on Barriere Lake’s territory without the community’s free, prior and informed consent.
The mineral exploration site - the Rivière Doré property located in the southeast of Val d’Or, Quebec - is at the heart of the hunting and fishing ground of several Barriere Lake families, amongst an extensive network of lakes, streams, and rivers. Rivière Doré contains a large amount of copper and nickel deposits, first claimed by Cartier Resources Inc., a junior mining company based in Val d’Or. After length community opposition, on December 15, 2011, Cartier sold its share of the Rivière Doré property to Copper One for $150,000 in cash, 2 million common shares of Copper One, and a royal fee of 1% of the net smelter return.
In May 2011, a letter by the Council of Elders, expressing the community’s opposition to natural resource exploitation within Trilateral Agreement territory, was forwarded to the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Copper One. According to Copper One’s web site, its mining exploration activities on this property have been put on hold, pending negotiations with the First Nations community of Barriere Lake.
Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson of Barriere Lake, stressed that “there will be no discussions about mining on the territory until the signed 1991 Trilateral Agreement with Quebec and Canada is honoured.”
This is the message that will be relayed at Copper One’s annual meeting of shareholders, today.
The 1991 Trilateral Agreement is a resource co-management agreement designed to protect the Algonquin community's way of life by ensuring they have a decisive say over land use in their territory. This agreement, when implemented, will also offer the community a modest share of revenues from economic activities on their lands. The federal and provincial governments have shirked their legal and political responsibility to honour this agreement, stalling sustainable development in the territory from moving peaceably forward.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are concerned that the provincial government may have misled Copper One about the security of their proposed project and may have hid the costs and liabilities the company could incur should the community choose to challenge Copper One’s Rivière Doré project. At this time, the continuation of the project would violate the Trilateral Agreement and would be in contradiction to established Canadian legal precedents and international agreements such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Norman Matchewan - Community spokesperson (English):  514-550–8706                              
Steve Baird – Liaison person (English and French): 514-607-838
Ramsey Hart – MiningWatch Canada : phone  613-569-3439 / cell  613-298-4745

Sunday, June 10, 2012


[français ci-dessous]


Photo Credit: Drue Oja Jay

VAL D'Or, QC - On June 5 2012, Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for the First Nation of Mitchikanibiko'inik (the Algonquins of Barriere Lake), was acquitted on what community members alleged all along were politically motivated charges. Matchewan was acquitted of mischief and obstruction of justice stemming from a 2009 blockade protecting his people’s territory from illegal logging.

Matchewan was defending the forest from logging that had been unlawfully authorized by Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The logging was also a violation of a 1991 resource co-management agreement signed in 1991 between Barriere Lake, Quebec and Canada.

“Too many native peoples are criminalized for defending their land,” said Matchewan following the acquittal, “Today is a big victory for our community. We will not be intimidated by trumped up legal charges and court battles. We will always protect our land and custom for our future generations.”

Yves Paquette of AbitibiBowater, the forestry company behind the cutting, incriminated himself by repeatedly lying during his cross-examination. Paquette claimed that he encountered no police on the site and was not able to enter the site because the logging road was entirely blocked by the cars of the Barriere Lake community members. However, after seeing video evidence that refuted the latter claim, Paquette also admitted to speaking to two intelligence officers from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

Vincent Larin, of the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources, admitted on the stand that logging permits were issued without any consultation by his Ministry of the family groups whose territories were being logged. Moreover, after first claiming that the cutting permits could not be altered once they were electronically signed and entered in the Ministry’s computer system, he presented the Court with a cutting permit that was substantially different than the version that had been disclosed to the defense.

“They got caught in their own lies,” said Matchewan following the trial. “The Crown’s case, in the end, was so weak that we were not even required to present a defense,” said Jared Will, the lawyer representing Matchewan at trial.

Last year, the community of Barriere Lake discovered a copper and nickel exploration project at the heart of the hunting and fishing area of several Barriere Lake families. The mineral claims, named the Rivière Doré property by Cartier Resources, were recently sold to Copper One Inc., based in Montreal. Neither the Quebec government, nor Cartier Resources had met their obligations to obtain the consent of the community before beginning work on the site.

Matchewan was a key voice in the community’s successful struggle to stop the exploration activity by Cartier Resources. Soon after he became active in the anti-mining campaign, he was issued a summons to appear in court for the logging blockade that occurred over two years earlier.

For more information, please contact: Norman Matchewan, (819) 435-2171 or his lawyer, Jared Will, (416) 835 2075.



Photo Credit: Mike Barber

Val d’Or, QC – Le 5 juin 2012, Norman Matchewan, porte-parole des jeunes de la Première Nation de Mitchikanibiko'inik (Algonquins du Lac Barrière), a été acquitté d’accusations qualifiées de motivées politiquement par des membres de la communauté. Matchewan a été acquitté de méfaits et d’entrave à la justice suite à une barricade protégeant le territoire de son peuple contre des coupes forestières illégales.

Matchewan défendait la forêt contre des coupes forestières illégalement autorisées par le Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec. Les coupes étaient aussi en violation d’un accord de co-gestion des ressources signé en 1991 entre la communauté du Lac Barrière, Québec et Ottawa.

« Trop de Premières Nations sont criminalisés pour avoir défendu leurs terres », a dit Matchewan suite au verdict d’acquittement. « Aujourd’hui est une grande victoire pour notre communauté. Nous ne nous laisserons pas intimider par des accusations légales falsifiées et des batailles juridiques. Nous protègerons notre terre et nos coutumes pour nos prochaines générations. »

Yves Paquette d’AbitibiBowater, la compagnie forestière derrière les coupes, s’est incriminé en mentant à plusieurs reprises pendant son contre-interrogatoire. Paquette soutenait qu’il n’avait rencontré aucun policier sur le site et qu’il n’avait pu y accéder parce que le chemin forestier était entièrement bloqué par les voitures des membres de la communauté du Lac Barrière. Toutefois, après avoir visionné une preuve vidéo qui démentait ses propos, Paquette a aussi admis avoir parlé à deux agents de renseignements de la Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

Vincent Larin, du Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, a admis, alors qu’il était à la barre des témoins, que les permis de coupes ont été émis sans aucune consultation de la part du ministère avec les familles dont les territoires étaient soumis aux coupes forestières. De plus, après avoir soutenu que les permis de coupes ne pouvaient être modifiés suite à leurs signatures électroniques et entrés dans le système informatique du Ministère, il a présenté à la Cour un permis de coupes substantiellement différent de la version qui avait été fournie à la défense.

« Ils se sont perdus dans leurs propres mensonges, » a dit Matchewan suite au procès. « Le dossier de la Couronne, à la fin, était si faible que nous n’avons pas eu à présenter de défense, » a dit Jared Will, l’avocat représentant Marchewan.

L’année dernière, la communauté du Lac Barrière a découvert un projet d’exploration de cuivre et de nickel au cœur de l’aire de chasse et de pêche de plusieurs familles du Lac Barrière. Les claims minéraux, nommées la Rivière Doré, propriété de Cartier Ressources, ont récemment été vendus à Copper One Inc., basé à Montréal. Ni le gouvernement du Québec ni Cartier Ressources n’ont respecté leurs obligations d’obtenir le consentement de la communauté avant de commencer à travailler sur le site.

Matchewan était une voix importante de la lutte, couronnée de succès, de la communauté contre les activités d’exploration de Cartier Ressources. Peu après sa participation active à la campagne contre l’exploitation minière, il a reçu plusieurs sommations, c’est-à-dire des ordres de comparaître en cour, en lien avec une barricade à laquelle il avait participé il y a plus de deux ans.

Pour plus d’information, veuillez contacter Norman Matchewan au 819-435-2171 ou son avocat, Jared Will, au 416-835-2075.