Monday, July 16, 2012
ALERT: Algonquins threaten blockade while Montreal riot cops stand on alert
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