Monday, July 28, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Algonquins View Tsilhquot’in Decision as Confirmation of Aboriginal Title Over Lands Covered by Territorial Management Agreements with Canada and Quebec


Algonquins View Tsilhquot’in Decision as Confirmation of Aboriginal Title Over Lands Covered by Territorial Management Agreements with Canada and Quebec

(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/July 28, 2014) On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada issued the Tsilhqot’in decision recognizing the Aboriginal Title of the Tsilhqot’in Nation over a large part of their traditional territory. In that decision Canada’s highest court also set out a framework for the establishment of Aboriginal Title in Canada. 

Former Barriere Lake Customary Chief Jean Maurice Matchewan stated “I negotiated and signed the 1991 Trilateral Agreement on behalf of our community to ensure our traditional territory—where we have lived for thousands of years—was managed in a sustainable way based upon conservation of natural resources and protection of our way of life. We did not agree, and still do not agree with Canada’s current Comprehensive Land Claims Policy, which would require us to extinguish our Aboriginal Title and Rights. The Trilateral Agreement, was an alternative to Canada’s unjust land claims policy. We now know our community meets the legal tests in the Tsilhqot’in decision for proof of Aboriginal Title and that the territorial management agreements we signed with Canada and Quebec in 1991 and 1998, as well as, the studies conducted under these agreements are now part of the proof of our Aboriginal Title and Rights over the Trilateral Agreement Territory.”

Chief Casey Ratt of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake stated “The Tsilhqot’in case confirms our community’s decision to enter into Territorial Management Agreements with Canada and Quebec were part of their duty to consult and accommodate our community regarding our Aboriginal Rights and Title. We fully expect Canada and Quebec to display this ‘honour of the Crown’ we hear about but never see, by these governments honouring the spirit and terms of the 1991 and 1998 Agreements by negotiating an Agreement with our community to implement the Joint Recommendations of former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, John Ciaccia and Clifford Lincoln.”

Mr. Clifford Lincoln, Special Representative and negotiator for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake concluded by stating “it has been over eight years since Mr. Ciaccia and I submitted our joint recommendations to the Quebec Cabinet and I attribute much of the community’s inner turmoil over leadership to the delays in negotiating an Agreement to implement our joint recommendations. Quebec has continued to authorize logging and other development activities within the Trilateral Agreement Territory that negatively impact on the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and their way of life yet the Algonquins receive no benefits and are not involved in resource management decision-making as contemplated by the Agreements they signed with the federal and Quebec governments. In light of the Tsilhqot’in decision the Quebec government should move quickly to concretely signal their intention to negotiate an agreement to implement the joint recommendations Mr. Ciaccia and I submitted over eight years ago.”

Last year, 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 subsequently clear-cut vast tracts of the forest last summer and fall, up to when the Algonquins stopped the unauthorized logging, which has been taking place in violation of the 1991 and 1998 signed Agreements with the First Nation. 

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. 

The Algonquins along with Quebec have re-established a measures to harmonize process to identify and protect cultural and ecological sites. The Quebec Government has now committed itself to restart negotiations with the ABL with the objective of implementing the seven recommendations of the Ciaccia-Lincoln report. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake intend to ensure these negotiations are started without delay after the elections of August 9, 2014. 


For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt Cell: (819) 441-8002
Norman Matchewan, Councillor Cell: (819) 441-8006
Tony Wawatie, Spokesperson Cell: (819) 355-3662
Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171

For Background information on 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral Agreements