Monday, December 16, 2013

Algonquin’s land protection camps forces Quebec to Agree to a Process to Protect Sensitive Zones from Logging: Next Step Implementation of Landmark Co-Management/Revenue Sharing Agreements

(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/December 16, 2013) – After community members of the Barriere Lake First Nation established a land protection camp to protest clear-cut logging on sensitive areas of their land, Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources has agreed to respect a previously negotiated process to harmonize forestry operations with the community’s traditional activities. Called the “measures to harmonize” process it involves field visits by Barriere Lake Algonquins to the proposed cut block areas and identification of buffer zones of various sizes to protect cultural sites and ecological areas.

The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources had—without meaningfully consulting the Algonquins of Barriere Lake—issued permits for the 2013-14 operating year to Resolute Forest Products and other large logging companies who have subsequently clear-cut vast tracts of the forest this past summer and fall, up to the end of November, when the Algonquins stopped the unauthorized logging, which has been taking place in violation of signed Agreements with the First Nation.

Photo credit: Norman Matchewan
Resolute Forest Products and other logging companies have already damaged many sensitive zones on the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement Territory.

This recent decision by Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources to respect a previously negotiated Forestry Protocol and related buffer zone prescriptions provides time for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake to conduct field visits to proposed logging sites scheduled for the 2013-14 operating year and identify buffer zones around sites of cultural and ecological importance to the Algonquin Peoples.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake intend to ensure that in early 2014, the commitment made by Quebec’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Elizabeth Larouche, is fulfilled to establish a negotiation table early in 2014 with the active participation of all of the relevant Quebec departments involved in implementing the outstanding 2006 Joint Recommendations of Mr. John Ciaccia and Mr. Clifford Lincoln.

The Ciaccia-Lincoln Joint Recommendations are the result of intensive negotiations between the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and Quebec under a 1991 Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement and a related 1998 Agreement, which includes Co-Management of the territory and Resource Revenue Sharing among other issues.

Photo credit: Norman Matchewan
The Algonquins have removed their Land Protection camp within the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve at the Poigan sector but are monitoring their territory to stop any unauthorized logging from further damaging Algonquin cultural sites and critical wildlife habitat while ensuring the agreed upon Measures to Harmonize Process is completed for the 2013-14 proposed logging sites.


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For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt Cell: (819) 441-8002
Norman Matchewan, Councillor Cell: (819) 441-8006
Tony Wawatie, Spokesperson Cell: (819) 527-7343
Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171

Monday, December 9, 2013

Algonquins Erect Land Protection Camp to Save Cultural Sites & Critical Wildlife Habitat from Destructive Logging within La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve

(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/December 9, 2013) This past Spring, Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources—without meaningfully consulting the Algonquins of Barriere Lake—issued permits for the 2013-14 operating year to Resolute Forest Products and other large logging companies who have subsequently clear-cut vast tracts of the forest this past summer and fall, up to last week, when the Algonquins stopped the unauthorized logging, which has been taking place in violation of signed Agreements with the First Nation.

Photo credit: Norm Matchewan
Resolute Forest Products and other logging companies have already damaged many sensitive area sites on the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement Territory, including sensitive area sites which the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and the logging companies know to be of particular cultural and ecological importance.

Today the Algonquins have erected a Land Protection camp within the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve at the Poigan sector, to stop unauthorized logging from damaging Algonquin cultural sites and critical wildlife habitat until an already agreed upon Measures to Harmonize Process is re-established on an urgent basis. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are demanding that the Quebec government:

  1. Cooperate in a measures to harmonize process to identify and protect cultural and ecological sites. 
  2. Honour the 1991 landmark Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement and related 1998 Agreement with Quebec on Co-Management and Resource Revenue Sharing among other issues. 

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For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt Cell: (819) 441-8002
Norman Matchewan, Councillor Cell: (819) 441-8006
Tony Wawatie, Spokesperson Cell: (819) 527-7343
Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171

Photo credit: Rose Nottaway

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Algonquins of Barriere Lake stop unauthorized forestry operations on their territory until Agreements respected

Barriere Lake, Quebec / - Today the Algonquins of Barriere Lake non-violently stopped forestry operations that are devastating their lands in Western Quebec.

On November 24 the Chief and Council of the community sent a letter to the Quebec government demanding they respect a signed agreements with Barriere Lake that are supposed to prevent logging on ecological and culturally sensitive areas.

"We are trying to protect and steward the land and water for future generations of native and non-native society, " says Norman Matchewan, a Barriere Lake councilor.

In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Quebec and Canada. Its aim was to establish an unprecedented system of sustainable development and eco-management over 10,000 square kilometres of their unceded traditional territory.

In 1998, Barriere Lake and Quebec signed a related Agreement to negotiate co-management of the territory and resource revenue sharing among other issues.

The Quebec and Canadian governments have refused to honour the 1991 and 1998 Agreements, allowing Eacom (formally Domtar,) Louisiana Pacific, and Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitbiBowater) to clear-cut huge areas without consultation of the community.

Three weekends ago, Quebec police visited Barriere Lake's Chief Casey Ratt at home on a Saturday morning.

In a letter to the Quebec government, Barriere Lake's Chief and Council writes: "While we try with our very modest means to protect our resources from unfair exploitation, you make sure the Surete du Quebec are there to intimidate us, which means court appearances and often jail."

"We will use all our means, limited as they are, to protect our territory and our cultural sites. If it again means the [Quebec Police's] strong arm tactics, so be it, and we are ready to once again face the consequences," the letter adds.


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Media Contact: 

Norman Matchewan 819-441-8006

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Situation urgent; Event tuesday; Petition


Once again, the Quebec government is allowing large logging companies to clear-cut sensitive sites on the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, including sites which they know to be of particular cultural and ecological importance. They are also trying to enable a mining company to open a copper-nickel mine.

In a november 24th letter to the Quebec government, Barriere Lake's leadership writes: "We will use all our means, limited as they are, to protect our territory and our cultural sites. If it again means the [Quebec police's] strong arm tactics, so be it, and we are ready to once again face the consequences."

Event :
When : Tuesday, December 3rd, 6pm.
Where : 2149, rue Mackay (between Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve), Montreal. Also, check out our Facebook event
Who : Michel Thusky, a respected elder of the community, will be here to speak about the community's struggle and the current sitaution. We will also be joined by Russel Diabo, a Mohawk policy analyst who worked for years with the community. Very short videos will also be shown. Please come and find out how you can support the community in their struggle. Michel's presentation will be in French, Russel and the videos will be in English. Whisper translation will be available.

Childcare can will be available. Please let us know 24h in advance, at barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com.

Petition :
Tell the Quebec government to honour their word. Support the community's demand for an immediate halt to all logging until agreements with the community are honoured and sensitive sites are protected :

http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/tell-the-quebec-premier-stop-clear-cutting-barriere-lake-s-lands-and-honour-a-landmark-agreement

Background :
In the face of government disrespect and corporate greed, the small Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake in northern Quebec has been fighting for decades to bring to life their vision of coexistance and environmental stewardship for future generations of natives and non-natives.

They signed the historic Trilateral Agreement with Quebec and Canada in 1991 to establish an unprecedented system of sustainable development, covering 10,000 square kilometres of their traditional territory. Barriere Lake has never ceded their territory, over which they assert Aboriginal Title and Rights.

But Canada and Quebec are refusing to honour the Trilateral Agreement. They know that other First Nations could look to it as a model for the protection of their lands and waters.

The fight against logging :
Several giant forestry corporations – including Eacom (formally Domtar,) Louisiana Pacific, and Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitbiBowater) – have been been working with the Quebec government to undermine the Trilateral Agreement and devastate Barriere Lake's territory. A permanent injunction, granted to Resolute Forest Products by the Quebec courts last year, threatens Barriere Lake community members with imprisonment if they block the desctruction of any sites.

The Quebec government has now granted logging permits to Eacom and Louisiana Pacific, which have been logging through the fall and will soon carry out winter logging very close to Barriere Lake's reserve at Rapid Lake.

For many years, some areas of concern to Barriere Lake would be exempt from logging through measures that were part of the Trilateral Agreement. These measures, which are not currently being respected, would allow some logging to continue but would protect animal habitat, hunting cabins, sacred sites and other important areas.

The Quebec police (Sureté du Quebec) paid a visit to Barriere Lake Chief Casey Ratt at his home on a morning two Saturdays ago to investigate what the community's response would be. This sort of police harassment has been standard procedure for the Quebec and Canadian governments, who have regularly dispatched riot police to act as the private security force of logging companies and who jailed a former Barriere Lake Chief for two months for participating in peaceful blockades.

Barriere Lake is demanding that logging cease until the Trilateral Agreement is fully honoured.

The fight against mining :
Copper One is a company that is attempting to open a copper-nickel mine in the heart of the hunting and fishing territory of several Barriere Lake families. The community is opposed to the mine.

In 2011, the company that was previously doing exploration gave up their mining claims, after Barriere Lake conducted peaceful blockades and a campaign that undermined support among the company's shareholders.

The latest company to try to open the mine is backed by Forbes & Manhattan, a global merchant bank that invests in dirty energy and extraction projects throughout the world, inlcuding in countries in conflict. They tried, for instance, to buy up Iraq's oil while the country was under US control.

Forbes & Manhatten has attempted to get the community's support for the mine with promises of 50 percent shares in the company Copper One, seats on its board of directors, and hiring community members as management of the company. Recently, a representative of the mining company offered $50,000 to arrange a meeting between the company and Barriere Lake.

The promises made by the company go beyond anything ever seen in an agreement with a First Nation. But Barriere Lake cannot be bought off and absolutely rejects a mine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Michikanibikok Inik Issue Statement Against Illegal Logging - Petition and Lecture

 Chief and council of the Michikanibikok Inik release statement condemning illegal logging. 


The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are once again preparing to resist the illegal clear-cutting of their territory. The Chief and Council of the Michikanibikok Inik have sent a statement the government of Quebec condemning illegal logging in their traditional territory, with permits issued by Québec's Ministry of Natural Resources. 

 New logging clearcuts have been discovered in the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, with permits issued by Québec's Ministry of Natural Resources. Loggers from Resolute Forest Products have been photographed collecting wood cut in the past 2 years by Pompon Road in the Lucie area. Cory, an Algonquin of Barriere Lake, main harvester in this area was never consulted. 

A number of forestry corporations - Eacom (formerly Domtar), Louisiana Pacific and Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitibiBowater) have all been issued permits to log in Barriere Lake's territory, failing to consult with the Michikanibikok Inik Algonquins, in direct contravention of the 1991 Trilateral Agreement. Quebec is refusing to honour this landmark agreement which is intended to establish an unprecedented system of sustainable development and eco-management over 10,000 square kilometres of their unceded traditional territory.

A permanent injunction granted by Québec courts to Resolute Forest Products last year threatens Barriere Lake Algonquins with imprisonment if they blockade the logging. A protest camp established in the path of the logging last summer had briefly halted the destruction of sacred and environmentally sensitive sites in the Poigan region. It has now been discovered that Resolute went over their limits from last years cut plans they were initially bound to by the MNR and Algonquin emergency negotiations, taking advantage of the injunction against the community. Moose yards, bear dens, sacred sites, offering sites and historical sites that elder Gabriel had identified have been completely destroyed.


TAKE ACTION & LEARN MORE:

Read the Statement from Chief Casey Ratt and Council to Ministry of Natural Resources (Nov. 24 2013)

Sign the petition now to tell the Quebec Premier: STOP CLEAR-CUTTING BARRIERE LAKE'S LANDS WITHOUT CONSENT!


Attend a talk by Barriere Lake elder in Montreal. [TBA]



Photos: Norm Matchewan

Contact:
Norm Matchewan (English Media) – 918-441-8006
Michel Thusky (French Media) – 819-435-2171

 

Barriere Lake Highway Action for Idle No More's Global Day of Action - October 7 2013




On the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which is the basis of legal recognition of Aboriginal Title in North America, Idle No More declared a Global Day of Action for Indigenous Sovereignty.

The Michikanibikok Inik, the Barriere Lake Anishinabek, took to the highway to raise awareness of their demands:


ABL Community's Current Demands

1. No forestry without the community’s voices
2. No mining without consent
3. No electrical hookup without a community plan
Revendications Actuelles des Algonquins de Lac Barrière
1. Pas de coupe forestière sans les voix de la
communauté
2. Pas d’exploration minière sans consentement
3. Pas de raccordement au réseau électrique sans un
plan communautaire
     Indigenous people have seen the wealth taken from our lands in the form of minerals and clear-cut logging, we have felt first hand the environmental, social, and spiritual costs that corporations and the Quebec and national governments have externalised onto us and our way of life. We are answering Idle No More's call for action today and slowing traffic on hwy 117 to educate people about this historic Indigenous-led global day of action.
                  - Norman Matchewan, Michikanibikok Inik,

Keep up with Barriere Lake's latest action: Barriere Lake Solidarity Facebook Page
 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Algonquins of Barriere Lake Affirm Opposition to Copper One’s Rivière Doré Project and All Claim Staking and Mineral Exploration in their Territory

(Rapid Lake, Quebec) Today, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are re-affirming their opposition to the proposed exploration activities of the junior mining company Copper One (TSX-V: CUO) within their unceded traditional territory. Copper One’s Rivière Doré project is within the area of an existing co-management agreement that Barriere Lake signed with Quebec and Canada in 1991 (the Trilateral Agreement).

The Trilateral Agreement was negotiated in a spirit of coexistence with Quebec and Canada in order to share the responsibility and benefits of sustainably managing a portion of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake’s traditional territory. Mining was not a consideration in the agreement and there has not been a process established by which claim staking, mineral exploration or mining could be considered within our territory. Despite a well-established body of case law (for example the recent decisions in Ross River Dena Council and Wahgoshig First Nation) the Quebec government has not fulfilled its duty to consult, accommodate and seek our consent for claim staking or mineral exploration.

In the last decade, both Canada and Quebec have failed to uphold the spirit and letter of the Trilateral agreement. As a result the people of Barriere Lake have been forced to spend considerable resources and put themselves at risk of harm and legal retribution defending their land. The government owes the community the duty to consult and obtain the consent of Barriere Lake prior to any mineral exploration. As the duty rests with the government of Quebec, the community sees no reason to negotiate with Copper One, a private party that established an interest in Barriere Lake’s territory without consent.

On January 16, Barriere Lake wrote letters to the provincial Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Natural Resources regarding the community’s concerns. To date the ministers have failed to respond.

Barriere Lake spokesperson Norman Matchewan says, “We made it clear to Copper One’s predecessor Cartier Resources that they were not welcome in our territory and they left. Maybe Copper One thought it got a deal picking up the claims for only $150,000 but they shouldn’t spend any more on this project. Our position remains firm.” Matchewan also says, “Our trust has been broken by the Quebec’s failure to honour past commitments, their failure to take responsibility and by them repeatedly turning a deaf ear to our requests to resolve our situation. In these circumstances, how can we negotiate with them or with private companies that the government is supposed to oversee.”

Elder Michel Thusky says, “This project is in the heart of our territory and could result in irreparable harm to our lands and culture. We are especially concerned about the spawning grounds of the threatened sturgeon population in the area of Copper One’s claims.”

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are calling on Copper One and other companies with claims in their territory to cease activities on their projects and allow the claims to lapse. In addition to Copper One, the companies with claims in the Trilateral Agreement area include Cenit, Mundiregina, Forest Gate Energy, Mines Virginia and the Quebec government-owned corporation SOQUEM. Barriere Lake are insisting that their traditional territory be withdrawn from staking by the Quebec government – as the Ontario Government removed much of the territory of Oji-Cree community Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in March 2012.

Contact:

Norm Matchewan (English Media) – 918-441-8006
Michel Thusky (French Media) – 819-435-2171

Links: http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/


Saturday, March 9, 2013

URGENT: Callout for donations to the Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund Help the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Protect Their Land and Way of Life!

Please Circulate Widely 

URGENT: Callout for donations to the Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund, Help the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Protect Their Land and Way of Life! 

Since August 2012, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been in a court case against Resolute Forestry and the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources. In July, Barriere Lake community members maintained a presence at the Poigan Bay logging site for three weeks to protect the land and demand that Quebec restrict forestry to protect the land for future generations. While Quebec agreed to meet and attempt to address community needs in forestry practices, Resolute filed an injunction in July against a group of Algonquins blockading logging operations at Poigan, several of whom were criminalized for these actions. The injunction affects all Algonquins who used the land and prevents community monitoring of forestry. It has allowed the Quebec government to avoid taking measures to address community needs around forestry. It has resulted in the destruction of community significant sites, historic sites, sacred sites, and ecologically sensitive sites, places vital to sustaining Algonquin language and culture.


The injunction case is at a critical point. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake currently do not have the funds to proceed, and need to raise a substantial amount of legal fees by Thursday March 14th to go ahead with the case. Resolute and the Crown have been able to push a definition of consultation that ignores native land use and that does not require the free, prior and informed consent of the community. At the same time, the community is facing the threat of mining exploration on their traditional territory by Copper One.


We are calling on supporters to donate generously to ensure the community has enough resources to proceed and fight this injunction, or to at least minimize the damage Resolute and the Quebec government have already caused.

Any amount is appreciated. Please make generous donations to Barriere Lake Legal Fund through our PayPal at http://bit.ly/pZYwht

For more information, please contact barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com or m_wawatie@hotmail.com.