Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Communiqué: PayPal Refunds Money, Victory for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in Fiscal Warfare with Canada

On Monday February 23, PayPal confirmed to Barriere Lake Solidarity (BLS) that the group’s account and funds had been restored. The news comes only four days after BLS activists learned that their PayPal account was under investigation due to complaints made by a member of the Canadian government.

This victory can be credited to a successful social media campaign by BLS activists, community members and supporters, and to the strong support of the Quebec Public Interest Research group, who manage BLS’s finances. PayPal cited this successful social media campaign in their phone conversation with solidarity activists.

For several weeks, BLS and the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) have been unable to access their PayPal account, containing funds raised for 23 ABL families going hungry just before Christmas due to non-payment of social assistance funds by a third party subcontracted by Aboriginal Affairs to manage distribution.

For Barriere Lake, this represents a small victory in a long struggle for justice. The community recently filed a lawsuit against BDO Canada LLP and Hartel Financial Management and the Canadian government for harms incurred over 8 and a half years of Third Party (Mis)Management. Both companies have withheld or failed to collect information needed by Barriere Lake in order to get out of deficit and comply with federal regulations. ABL have subsequently been unable to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, since they assert that they cannot be held financially liable for funds over which they’ve had no control for years.

Members of the First Nation consider the exorbitant number of families cut off from social assistance late last year as further evidence of federal indifference to community needs.

In the face of ongoing oppression and colonial fiscal relations with the Crown, Barriere Lake Solidarity and the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are celebrating this victory and preparing for the struggle ahead.



Barriere Lake Solidarity - barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

Tony Wawatie (Interim Director General) - Algonquins of Barriere Lake: 819-355-3662 and 819-435-2181

Monday, February 23, 2015

Communiqué: Barriere Lake Solidarity PayPal Account Frozen Due to Harper Government

On Thursday, February 21, 2015, a PayPal employee confirmed to a Barriere Lake Solidarity activist that the Barriere Lake Solidarity (BLS) account was being investigated due to a complaint made by a member of the Canadian Government. As a result of the complaint, Barriere Lake Solidarity’s account was frozen and the group has been unable to access funds raised for 23 families who were going hungry just before Christmas, because of non-payment of social assistance by a third party organizaition under contract with the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have a 80-90% unmemployment rate and depend on social assistance for basic survival. The PayPal account involved a few thousand dollars to help support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in their struggle.

The BLS PayPal account was created as a non-profit business/organization. It is a Working-Group under the Qubec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) who have registered non-profit status. Despite repeated attempts to prove that BLS is not a separate legal entity, PayPal gave BLS no other choice but to shut down the account, refunding all the moneys raised.

PayPal will no longer confirm the identity of the party who issued the complaint, but will verify that they received the call one day afer the fundraising campaign was launched.

BLS member Shiri Pasternak stated: “It is outrageous that the federal government sought fit to intervene in a fundraising campaign to provide stopgap funding for families who were going hungry due to the negligence of Aboriginal Affairs. Barriere Lake council members had been petitioning the government for months to resolve the missing social assistance issues. When we launched our fundraising campaign, hundreds of people reached out, but the government’s panicked response was to shut down this support and let the community starve.”



Barriere Lake Solidarity barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

Tony Wawatie (Interim Director General, Algonquins of Barriere Lake: 819-355-3662 and 819-435-2181

Press Release: AFNQL Chiefs’ Assembly Calls on Canada & Quebec to Honour Agreements on Resource Management and Revenue Sharing with Algonquins of Barriere Lake

(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/February 5, 2015) The Algonquins of Barriere Lake welcome
the recent showing of support by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) of our First Nation’s on-going struggle to have Quebec and Canada honour signed agreements on the co-management of our territory and revenue sharing. A week ago, on January 28, 2015, the AFNQL adopted the attached resolution of support which calls on Canada and Quebec to honour agreements signed in 1991 and in 1998, and further urges the Quebec government to follow through on its commitment, made under Premier Couillard, to negotiate resource revenue sharing with Barriere Lake.

“Approximately $100 million is generated from our territory annually but our First Nation has never seen a cent. We remain one of the poorest communities in Canada,” explains Interim Director-General Tony Wawatie. “We are hopeful that the support from the AFNQL will encourage Quebec to live up to its promises so that we can move together towards a sustainable future that supports all users of our land."


For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt Cell: (819) 441-8002
Tony Wawatie, Interim Director-General Cell: (819) 355-3662
Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171 & (819) 334-4099

Monday, February 2, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: Algonquins of Barriere Lake File Court Action against the Government of Canada and Past & Current Third Party Managers

(Kitiganik, Algonquin Territory/February 3, 2015) Last Friday, Chief and Council for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake filed a lawsuit against Canada and the community’s past and present third party managers, BDO Canada LLP and Hartel Financial Management Corporation.  The lawsuit claims harms suffered by Barriere Lake caused by Canada and the third party managers, by mismanaging and withholding funds that were to be used for the benefit of the community and its members.  This includes exorbitant fees paid to the third party managers from Barriere Lake’s funds.   The “services” provided by the third party managers harmed, rather than helped, our members, and interfered with our ability to improve the administrative, financial, and governance services we provide to our community.  

Our members continue to experience third world living conditions, in spite of the tremendous wealth generated through resource extraction within our traditional territory. Our roads, water, hydro, school, and social services remain gravely underfunded, when compared to the funding available to Canadians living in non-First Nations communities.  

The leadership and administration of Barriere Lake have been working diligently to regain control of our own financial resources and governance, but the information essential to do so has been routinely withheld by Canada and by the third party managers.  Repeated written and verbal requests for the most basic information about our own finances have been ignored.  

After over 8 years of third party management, Canada claims that Barriere Lake remains in “default” of the funding agreement imposed by Canada.  The leadership and administration of Barriere Lake have had virtually no control over or information about their finances during that time.  Surely, if we remain in “default”, it is because of chronic underfunding by Canada and the failure of third party managers to competently and diligently managed our finances, for the benefit of the community and its members.  Instead, Canada now claims we are in breach of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act for not reporting financial information that remains in the exclusive control of the third party managers.

The third party managers hold Barriere Lake’s money in trust, and are therefore required to administer those funds for the benefit of the community.  Instead, for more than 8 years, our community has suffered gravely under the third party management regime.  Without financial agency, we have been at the mercy of a series of managers who have ignored our reasonable requests for basic information, and have bounced cheques to suppliers, interfered with our economic relations with suppliers, hired and fired employees without authority, and otherwise proven themselves completely unconcerned with the interests, well-being, and future of our community.  The same accountants have charged millions of dollars in fees, which have been paid by Barriere Lake, without our consent.  And our members continue to live in third world conditions.

The millions paid in fees to the third party managers could have been used by Barriere Lake to hire its own professional accounting, finance, and administrative staff, and to improve the infrastructure and services available to our members.  Instead, it has gone to accountants in offices hundreds or thousands of kilometers from our community, who are neither accountable to our members nor motivated to bring us out of default, because our continued default status ensures that their contracts will be renewed by Canada. 

We have attempted to discuss our circumstances with Canada, and requested that third party management no longer be imposed on us.  Failing that, we have requested support for taking the steps that Canada views as necessary to bring us out of third party management.  Canada, through Minister Valcourt, has ignored or refused these requests.

Regrettably, we have been left with no choice but bring a legal claim against Canada and our third party managers for the damages we have suffered during the last 8 years, because of the money taken from Barriere Lake without its consent, the removal of our autonomy and ability to govern ourselves, the reduction in our administrative and infrastructural capacity, and the harm to our community’s reputation.  Our claim is for $30 million: this represents the losses we have experienced because of the imposition of third party management, the negligent performance of the third party managers, and the numerous breaches of the fiduciary obligations owed by Canada and the third party managers to Barriere Lake.  If we are successful, this money will be returned to the community, for the benefit of the community, rather than being held and used for the benefit of accountants in far-off cities.


For More Information Contact:

Chief Casey Ratt         Cell: (819) 441-8002
Tony Wawatie, Interim Director-General Cell: (819) 355-3662
Michel Thusky (French) Spokesperson Telephone: (819) 435-2171 or (819) 334-4099