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.