Thursday, February 16, 2017

While Mining Company Launches Lawsuit Against Quebec, More Than 2000 Citizens Show Support for Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation

16 February 2017.
(Ottawa) More than 2000 people have signed a petition in support of Barriere Lake Algonquin First Nation. The petition was officially filed this morning in the Quebec National Assembly by Manon Masse, MNA. It calls on the Government of Quebec to suspend all mining activities on the Nation’s ancestral territory and to implement their co-management agreement for all resources on the territory.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to MNA Manon Massé and all others that support our efforts. As we move forward, we would like to see everyone working together towards reconciliation with First Nations rights and interests, including the right to self-determination and implementing our own vision for developing and caring for the land. It’s the only way to ensure a viable future for our community and our culture,” states Chief Casey Ratt, Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
For years, the Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation have tried to reach an agreement for the joint management of renewable resources on their territory with Quebec, and the Algonquins have always understood this to include the right to say “no” to mining. Their territory is located partly in the large La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, at the headwaters of the Ottawa River and at the junction of the regions of Outaouais, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and Hautes-Laurentides.
On January 26, 2017, the Government of Quebec announced that it intended to suspend the mining claims of Copper One; this was confirmed on 8 February 2017. Although this was a step in the right direction, more than 90% of the ancestral territory of the First Nation remains open to mining – an unacceptable situation for the First Nation.
On February 1, 2017, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador adopted an unanimous resolution condemning the Mining Act of Quebec as being "unconstitutional" in regard to indigenous rights. The First Nations urge Quebec to change the Act.
On February 6, 2017, mining company Copper One started legal proceedings for a writ of mandemus against Quebec. The first hearing for this case will begin on Friday, 24 February in Quebec City. 
For information: 
Michel Thusky (French), Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation, 819-215-0591
Chief Casey Ratt (English), Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation, 819-441-8002
Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, 514-708-0134

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Algonquin Nations Denounce Quebec’s Mining Act

(January 26, 2017. Val d'Or, Québec) Meeting this morning at a press conference at Val d'Or, the Algonquin Nations are uniting their voices to denounce the Quebec Mining Act and the impacts that it causes on their territorial and Aboriginal rights. The Algonquins are asking the Government of Quebec to review the foundations of the law, which they believe are unconstitutional.

"We face, even today, mining claims and mining projects for which we were never informed, consulted and never gave our consent," said Chief Casey Ratt of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation, who called the press conference.

"We support viable development of our territory, but we want to be able to make choices that respect our rights and meet our needs, our expectations, and our values. The current Mining Act is preventing us from doing that," added the Chief Lance Haymond of Kebaowek First Nation (Eagle Village).

According to Chief Harry St-Denis of Wolf Lake First Nation, "The Quebec government is responsible for ensuring that its laws and mining policies respect constitutional rights of Aboriginal Nations. Quebec’s Mining Act still fails this test in 2017."

The Algonquin First Nations are particularly critical of the Mining Act’s lack of any obligation to inform or to consult indigenous nations before the Government grants mineral claims on their traditional territories. The law also fails to require permits or consultation for the vast majority of mining exploration work, including drilling, mechanical trenching, and other use of heavy equipment. The Mining Act does not allow integrated land use planning in respect of indigenous peoples’ rights and aspirations, including the possibility of saying 'no' to mining claims located in culturally or ecologically sensitive areas.

In two presentations delivered this morning at Val d'Or, professors Jean-Paul Lacasse and Sophie Thériault of the Faculty of Law of University of Ottawa have been clear: the current Mines Act would not pass a constitutional legal test, if it were to be challenged by an Aborigoinal nations in Quebec. The solution would require a change in the law and in the meantime, the suspension and/or the takeover of mining titles in sensitive areas, or until agreements are reached with affected Aboriginal nations.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln, former Quebec’s Environment Minister and special representative for the Algonquin Nation of Barriere Lake, makes a similar point, considering that it would be more responsible for the Government of Quebec to take a path of reconciliation and agreements with Aboriginal Nations, rather than a path of continuous denial (see Mr. Lincoln’s video – English version available soon).

While the government announced its “intention” to “temporarily” suspend the claims of Copper One on the territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake on January 26th, the long term scenario remains uncertain. The Algonquin Nation, located largely within the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, asks for public support in order to protect their culture, the land, the waters and the wildlife, which are all interconnected.

The Algonquin of Barriere Lake Nation held a day of information and awareness yesterday, January 25, with the participation of around 25 individuals and civil society organizations including: Greenpeace Quebec, Amnesty International Canada, Ligue des droits et libertés du Québec, Coalition Québec Meilleure Mine, MiningWatch Canada, Action Boréal de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Regroupement vigilance sur les mines en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and the Conseil régional de l’environnement de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Sign the petition before February 10, 2017:

Support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake:

Support statement from the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec & Labrador:
Support statement from opposition party Quebec Solidaire:

Quebec Government’s reaction the same day, announcing their ‘intention’ to suspend Copper One’s mining claims:

Copper One’s reaction the next day, announcing their ‘intention’ to seek legal remedies if they are prevented from accessing their mining claims (likely against the Quebec government, and possibly against the Algonquins of Barriere Lake…):
For more information:
  • Chef Casey Ratt (English), Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 819-441-8002
  • Chef Lance Haymond (English), Algonquin Nation of Kebaowek (Eagle Village), 819-627-6884
  • Chef Harry St-Denis (English), Algonquin Nation of Wolf Lake, cell. 819-627-3628
  • Clifford Lincoln (Français/English), former Quebec cabinet ministre and special representative of the Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 514-441-9446
  • Tony Wawatie (Français/English), Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 819-355-3662
  • Michel Thusky (Français), Algonquin Nation of Barrière Lake, 819-215-0591
Intervenants externes:
  • Jean-Paul Lacasse, Law Faculty, University of Ottawa, 819-210-1435
  • Sophie Thériault, Law Faculty, University of Ottawa,
  • Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada & Coalition Québec meilleure mine, 514-708-0134


French media: