Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa – www.ipsmo.org

August 12, 2010

Action Alert/Action Urgente! Barriere Lake Algonquins say NO to Canada and Quebec’s armed-imposition of unconstitutional Indian Act election

Spend 5 minutes to support the Barriere Lake Algonquins as they take action to protect their inherent right to govern themselves according to their customs!

On August 12, the Canadian and Quebec Governments are using the Quebec police to impose the Indian Act election process.  The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are boycotting!

Say NO to Canada’s armed-imposition of an unconstitutional regime!

Send an online letter to the new Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan and Indian Affairs Quebec Regional Director Pierre Nepton here: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

Call Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan: 1-800-667-280, 613-992-2503,

—> If you can DONATE to or ENDORSE Barriere Lake’s campaign, please contact us: barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Barriere Lake Algonquins mount boycott of government-imposed election poll in face of threats of arrest by Quebec police

Kitiganik, Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / – On August 12, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake will protest and boycott a nomination poll for Indian Act band elections that the Department of Indian Affairs is unilaterally forcing on their community.

The Quebec Police, the Sûreté du Québec, will be guarding the polling stations in the community’s territory and have threatened to arrest anyone who tries to interfere or set up blockades.

After community members peacefully blockaded a federal government electoral officer from entering the reserve on July 22, the Department of Indian Affairs rescheduled the nomination poll for August 12.

“The Canadian and Quebec Governments are shamefully treating our community like criminals for peacefully protecting our inherent right to govern ourselves according to our customs,” says Tony Wawatie community spokesperson. “The Canadian government is attempting to unconstitutionally abolish our traditional leadership selection. They claim imposing this regime is a democratic move, but the overwhelming majority of our community members are opposed and want instead to maintain our own system of government.”

The government officer is seeking nominations for a Chief and Council that would be voted for in an election the Department of Indian Affairs has planned for September 26, 2010. Barriere Lake is one of the few First Nations in the country who have never been under the Indian Act’s electoral system, continuing instead to operate under a Customary Governance Code that they have used for generations.

During the July 22nd nomination meeting only 4 nominations were sent by mail-in-ballot – and all from individuals who have never lived within Barriere Lake’s traditional territory.

“The Canadian government claims they are imposing Indian Act elections because our traditional system doesn’t work, but it’s in fact the government’s interference in our internal affairs that has destabilized our governance,” says Marylynn Poucachiche, another community spokesperson. “The real reason they are imposing band elections is to sever our connection to the land, which is maintained by our traditional political system. They don’t want to deal with a strong leadership and a community that demands the governments honour signed agreements regarding the exploitation of our lands and resources.”

Barriere Lake’s inherent right to customary self-government is protected by section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A May, 2010 report by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples affirmed that First Nations have the right to maintain control over their internal
affairs and be free to pursue their vision of customary government.

The Assembly of First Nations has passed a unanimously-backed resolution condemning the government and demanding that the Minister of Indian Affairs rescind the band elections, imposed through section 74 of the Indian Act.

Under Barriere Lake’s customary governance code, participation in leadership selections is open only to those band members who live in the traditional territory and have knowledge of and connection to the land.

-30-

Media contacts:
Tony Wawatie, community spokesperson: 819 – 860-4121
Marylynn Poucachiche, community spokesperson: 819-441-4923
To arrange interviews you can also email :
barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

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