Logging proceeds without consent on territory of Algonquins of Barriere Lake

NOTE: please click here for updated coverage of the protest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Logging proceeds without consent on territory of Algonquins of Barriere Lake.

Resolute Forest Products, formerly Abitibi Bowater, logging land that includes sacred grounds.

July 9, Poigan Bay, QC – Resolute Forest Products, formerly known as Abitibi Bowater, began cutting last Tuesday on land of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake without proper community consultation or consent. The logging is taking place near Poigan Bay, Quebec, on land that includes sacred grounds and important moose habitat, according to community spokesperson Norman Matchewan.

In a letter sent to Premier Charest on July 4, elder Gabriel Wawatie states: “As one of the main harvesters, I was not properly consulted nor provided a written consent to this logging within our territory.”

Despite the lack of consultation, the Ministry of Natural Resources office in Maniwaki issued permits for the logging to take place.

Wawatie’s letter continues: “This clearly demonstrates your ministry’s lack of respect of the highest court ruling on the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations,” referring to the Supreme Court ruling on Haida Nation vs. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. “Therefore we are requesting that you cease logging operations in our territory.”

Last month, in a recent provincial court case, the same forestry company (Resolute Forest Products, formerly known as Abitibi Bowater) attempted to sue one of the youth leaders of Barriere Lake, Norman Matchewan. Vincent Larin, from the Maniwaki Ministry of Natural Resources office, issued two cutting permits for the same logging site (cutting block) in Barriere Lake territory that also included sacred sites. Fortunately, the forestry company lost their court case when the foreman contradicted his original statement and got caught lying on the stand.

In recent years, the community of Barriere Lake has resisted numerous resource extraction projects slated for their land. Most recently, members of the community confronted mining company Copper One at the company’s AGM in Montreal, opposing their mining exploration on Barriere Lake territory.

###

Contact: Norman Matchewan, 819-435-2171

Blockade!

For Immediate Release

September 1, 2009

Algonquins place bodies in front of logging machines: prevent logging until Quebec and Canada respect agreements and leadership

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory /- This afternoon members of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake will peacefully block the machines of Abitibi-Bowater forestry workers, preventing logging in their territory until Quebec implements agreements covering forestry on Barriere Lake’s lands, and the Quebec and Canadian government’s recognize the First Nation’s legitimate leadership.

“Our community has decided there will be no forestry activities or any new developments in our Trilateral Agreement Territory until the status of our leadership and the agreements we signed are resolved to our community’s satisfaction,” says Jean Maurice Matchewan, Customary Chief of Barriere Lake. “The Quebec government has acted in bad faith, giving companies the go-ahead to log while they ignore their legal obligations, leaving us with no choice but to stop forestry operations until Quebec complies with the agreement. We have waited more than 3 years for Quebec to implement it.”

Matchewan received no response to a letter he sent to Manager Paul Grondin of Abitibi-Bowater’s Maniwaki mill on August 25, requesting that the company suspend logging operations until the governments follow through on their obligations.

“Our plan is to peacefully put our bodies in front of their machines until we get some results. We expect they may use the police, because we are used to such tactics. This is our territory and they can’t push us off our lands,” says Matchewan.

Canada and Quebec have refused to acknowledge the results of a June 24, 2009 leadership selection process that reselected Jean Maurice Matchewan as the legitimate Customary Chief of Barriere Lake. National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations, however, met with Chief Matchewan on August 19, to discuss the Trilateral agreement and other community concerns. The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, a Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, also recently reiterated their support for Chief Matchewan.

“Instead of acting honourably and cooperating with our Customary Council to implement these signed agreements, the federal and provincial governments have been working in unison to try and install a minority faction whom they can use to sign off on the cutting of our forest,” says Matchewan.

Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral Agreement in 1998, but has stalled despite the 2006 recommendations of two former QuebecCabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, that the agreement be implemented. The agreement is intended to allow logging to continue while protecting the Algonquin’s’ traditional way of life and giving them a $1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out of their territory every year.

– 30 –

Media contacts:
Chief Jean Maurice Matchewan – 819-435- 2136
To arrange interviews in case the line is busy : 514-398-7432