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

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 :

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.