SAY NO to Indian Act Section 74

Take a stand today!
Support the Barriere Lake Algonquins and their inherent right to govern themselves according to their customs:

Write/call/fax Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Indian Affairs Quebec Regional Director Pierre Nepton: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

—> For more info, or to endorse the campaign: please email barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com, www.barrierelakesolidarity.org, ipsmo.org

The Canadian government is forcibly assimilating Barriere Lake’s customary governance system using an archaic and rarely invoked piece of Indian Act legislation.

Indian Act: Sect 74 (1) (Elected Councils)
Whenever he deems it advisable for the good government of a band, the Minister may declare by order that after a day to be named therein the council of the band, consisting of a chief and councillors, shall be selected by elections to be held in accordance with this Act.

This strategy is a draconian, last ditch attempt to sever the community’s connection to the land, which is at the heart of their governance system. By breaking their connection to the land, the Canadian and Quebec governments hope to get away with violating resource- use agreements and illegally clear-cutting in their traditional territory.

Section 74 hasn’t been forcibly imposed on a community since 1924, when the Canadian government unilaterally deposed the traditional government of Six Nations, padlocking shut the Haudenasaunee Confederacy lodge.

Barriere Lake is one of only two dozen Native communities still operating with their traditional governance system. They attribute the strength of their community, language, knowledge and protection of the land to its endurance. The impacts of losing their customary government would have devastating consequences on their way of life.  There is a broad consensus in Barriere Lake in favour of retaining their customs and against a Section 74 order erasing their Customary government.

“Community members and youth plan to defend our rights for the sake of our generation and the generations to come.” – Tony Wawatie, spokesperson.

UPDATES: Indian Affairs announces election date; SQ harassment escalates; Canadian spies visit Barriere Lake solidarity activist

a) The Department of Indian Affairs has circulated a notice in Barriere Lake announcing they intend to hold section 74 Indian Action band elections on August 19, 2010, and nomination meetings for a Chief and six Counselors on July 8th. The community has every intention of resisting Indian Affairs’ attempts to abolish their traditional governance system.                      

b) There has been an escalation in harassment by the Quebec Police, known as the Surete du Quebec (SQ), who have been policing Barriere Lake’s reserve since April 1, 2010. Community members have been regularly pulled over on the highway and on the access road to their reserve. Some women have recounted being pulled over by an SQ officer and being made the subject of sexist remarks. “What have you got there in back seat? Got something for me?” they were asked. The officer then followed them home in his cruiser after telling them, “I’m going to come over and sleep with you guys.”

The escalation is an indication that the Canadian and Quebec governments may attempt to use the Quebec police to impose their political dictates, as they’ve done in the past. Barriere Lake’s supporters will need to be vigilant and hold their governments to account, lest they attempt to push through section 74 Indian Act elections with brute force.

c) Read a description of how CSIS agents visited and harassed a member of the Barriere Lake solidarity collective in Montreal, an indication of the lengths the federal government is willing to go to to undermine the community’s struggle for their rights: http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/martin-lukacs/3622

d) The Green Party of Canada issued a press release on June 9th endorsing Barriere Lake’s struggle to protect their traditional governance system: http://greenparty.ca/media-release/2010-06-09/algonquins-barriere-lake-trying-protect-governance-system

e) The Assembly of First Nations put out a supportive if vaguely worded press release (they also didn’t send it out on the press wire, but only posted it online):  http://www.nationtalk.ca/modules/news/article.php?storyid=32735

f) APTN coverage of the demo on June 15, the segment is about 10min in:  http://www.aptn.ca/pages/news/index.php?wmv=tuesday/six

:::: BACKGROUND ::::

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake live on their unceded territory 300 kilometers north of Ottawa, in Quebec. They govern themselves by a customary system, the Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin. Unlike most First Nations, they have never had band elections imposed on them by the federal government through the Indian Act.

Section 74 of the Indian Act states that the Minister of Indian Affairs can impose an electoral system on First Nations with customary leadership selection processes:

“Whenever he deems it advisable for the good government of a band, the Minister may declare by order that after a day to be named therein the council of the band, consisting of a chief and councillors, shall be selected by elections to be held in accordance with this Act.”

On April 8, 2010, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl signed off an order to invoke section 74, initiating the process to impose Indian Act band elections on Barriere Lake. The federal government has already hired an electoral officer to oversee this process, meaning the federal government aims to hold elections within a matter of months.

Despite its inclusion in the Indian Act, section 74-imposed band elections would be a violation of Barriere Lake’s Indigenous customs, a draconian interference in their internal affairs, a breach of their constitutionally-protected Aboriginal right to a customary system of government, and a violation of the minimum standards included in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is an attempt to politically weaken the community, by destroying the way they have governed themselves since time immemorial.

The affirmation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution in 1982 guarantees Barriere Lake’s right to maintain their customary system of government. There has been absolutely no case-law since 1982 that would indicate that the Minister has the power to infringe on Barriere Lake’s rights.

The Government move also contradicts a recent Federal Court decision concerning Barriere Lake’s leadership. On February 17, 2010, Federal Court Judge Robert Mainville concluded in the case of Ratt v. Matchewan that Barriere Lake can “select their leadership in accordance with their customs unimpeded by any conditions or requirements which the Minister may deem appropriate.”

But the Canadian government, even if they had Canadian law on their side, would have no authority to interfere with Barriere Lake’s inherent jurisdiction over their lands, which precedes Canadian sovereignty claims by thousands of years. Barriere Lake has never ceded their lands by treaty or agreement and continue to exercise their jurisdiction over their lands by responsibly managing the territory.

Barriere Lake’s customary government is tied to their use of the land – their hunting, fishing, trapping, harvesting over their vast traditional territories. Only those band members who live within their territories and have knowledge and connection to the land can participate in their customary system of government. The position of Chief is based on hereditary entitlement, but other factors are equally or more important, including leadership abilities, knowledge of the land, and community support. Elders have a key role in the leadership selection process, ensuring the customs are respected. They oversee a blazing ceremony, nominating potential leadership candidates who are then approved or rejected by community members in public assemblies. Leadership requires the consent of the governed, meaning leaders can be removed at any time. Such a directly democratic form of government accords well with the community’s decentralized organization.

For the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, their governance system is one of the sources of their political strength and assertiveness: eligible community members have a stake in the land, and they will select leaders who ensure its protection and responsible management.

But if the Canadian government can impose section 74 Indian Act band elections, this will change. Elders will lose customary responsibility for cultivating leaders and for shepherding leadership selections. Voting by secret ballot would undermine the consensus-based, directly democratic process. Fixed terms for elections would destroy the hereditary elements of their system. Indian Act elections would open eligibility for selecting leaders to people on the band registry list, not just those who live and use the traditional territory. As in many First Nations across the country, off-reserve band members who have no stake in the land’s protection but a say in elections or referendums concerning agreements or modern treaties will likely vote for cash deals that may extinguish Inherent, Aboriginal, or Treaty rights to the land.

The federal government’s attack on the community’s inherent right to a customary governance system has served the ends of the Quebec government, which has been allowing forestry companies to illegally log in Barriere Lake’s traditional territory, without consulting and in areas that are supposed to be off-bounds under the terms of the 1991 Trilateral agreement. Quebec has just issued cutting permits for a new period of logging.

—->Please take a moment to support a community that has protected their territory from extractive industries for decades at great expense and sacrifice to their lives.

DEMAND THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPECT BARRIERE LAKE’S CUSTOMARY GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

SEND AN EMAIL VIA THE BARRIERE LAKE SOLIDARITY WEBSITE: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

Three-Figure Wampum, an agreement between the Barriere Lake Algonquine, the Church and the settlers
Three-Figure Wampum belt, dated back to around 1760, is an agreement between the Barriere Lake Algonquine, the Church and the settlers. The belt depicts an acknowledgement whereby, under the sign of the cross, no interference would be made into the local native ways of life.

Harper Erasing Algonquin Traditional Government with Indian Act, Sect 74

ANNOUNCING A CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT THE ALGONQUINS OF BARRIERE LAKE
OPPOSE SECTION 74 of the INDIAN ACT:
HARPER, STRAHL TO WIPE OUT BARRIERE LAKE ALGONQUINS’ CUSTOMARY GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Join the campaign to prevent Canada’s Department of Indian Affairs attempts to eliminate Barriere Lake Algonquin Traditional Governance System

Feast and Celebration of Customary Governance

6:30PM, Monday, June 14, 2010
Mac Hall, Bronson Centre at 211 Bronson Avenue Ottawa, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

Demonstration: Stop Harper’s Elimination of Algonquin Traditional Government

11:30AM, Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In front of Indian Affair’s Minister Chuck Strahl’s office
Bank St and Wellington St, ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

Everyone is Welcome!

The Canadian government is preparing to forcibly assimilate Barriere Lake’s customary governance system using an archaic and rarely invoked piece of Indian Act legislation – Section 74. This strategy is a draconian, last ditch attempt to sever the community’s connection to the land, which is at the heart of their governance system.  By breaking their connection to the land, the Canadian and Quebec governments hope to get away with violating resource-use agreements and illegally clear-cutting in their traditional territory.

Section 74 hasn’t been forcibly imposed on a community since 1924, when the Canadian government unilaterally deposed the traditional government of Six Nations, padlocking shut the Haudenosaunee Confederacy lodge.

Barriere Lake is one of only two dozen Native communities still operating with a recognized traditional governance system. They attribute the strength of their community, language, knowledge and protection of the land to its endurance. The impacts of losing their customary governance system would have devastating consequences on their way of life.

There is a broad consensus in Barriere Lake in favour of retaining their customs and against a Section 74 order erasing their Customary government.

Take a stand today!
Support the Barriere Lake Algonquins and their inherent right to govern themselves according to their customs:

EVERYWHERE: Write/call/fax Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Indian Affairs Quebec Regional Director Pierre Nepton: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html

OTTAWA: JOIN Barriere Lake community members in Ottawa on June 14 and 15 2010

June 14: Feast and Celebration of Customary Government: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125575680806297
June 15: Demonstration: Stop Harper and Strahl’s Elimination of Algonquin Customary Government: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128467113839884

TORONTO: Come MARCH with community members at the Indigenous Day of Action Against the G8/G20 on June 24th in Toronto: http://www.defendersoftheland.org/story/179

June 24: Day of Action for Indigenous Rights!
11:00AM, March start point: Queen’s Park, South Lawn
To arrange a bus ride from Ottawa to Toronto for June 24, please send your request at http://g20.torontomobilize.org/ottawatranspo

—> For more info, to donate, or to endorse the campaign: please email barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com, www.ipsmo.org

:::: BACKGROUND ::::

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake live on their unceded territory 300 kilometers north of Ottawa, in Quebec. They govern themselves by a customary system, the Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin. Unlike most First Nations, they have never had band elections imposed on them by the federal government through the Indian Act.

Section 74 of the Indian Act states that the Minister of Indian Affairs can impose an electoral system on First Nations with customary leadership selection processes:

“Whenever he deems it advisable for the good government of a band, the Minister may declare by order that after a day to be named therein the council of the band, consisting of a chief and councillors, shall be selected by elections to be held in accordance with this Act.”

Continue reading “Harper Erasing Algonquin Traditional Government with Indian Act, Sect 74”

“You Are On Indian Land” Akwesasne’s Land Struggles Past and Present

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Movie Screening and Speakers
An educational and fund-raising event

Speakers will include:
John Boots – Akwesasne People’s Fire
Nona Benedict – Akwesasne People’s Fire

NFB Movie, “You Are On Indian Land
The movie will have subtitles.
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Wednesday, May 19 at 7pm
Exile Infoshop, 256 Bank St.
2nd floor
Contact us if you have mobility issues and want to attend
http://www.ipsmo.org
ipsmo@riseup.net
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Both John Boots and Nona Benedict are part of the Akwesasne People’s Fire, a group that formed in response to the attempt by CBSA to arm border guards on the territory of the Akwesasne Mohawks.

They were although both involved in the 1969 Blockade that is covered in the movie “You Are On Indian Land,” and thy will also be talking about this protest and of the long history of the Akwesasne Mohawks struggle for sovereignty with Canada and the United States.

We will be showing the National Film Board movie, “You Are On Indian Land” which is “A film report of the 1969 protest demonstration by Mohawk Indians of the St. Regis Reserve on the international bridge between Canada and the United States near Cornwall, Ontario. By blocking the bridge, which is on the Reserve, and causing a considerable tie-up of motor traffic, the Indians drew public attention to their grievance that they were prohibited by Canadian authorities from duty-free passage of personal purchases across the border; a right they claim was established by the Jay Treaty of 1794. The film shows the confrontation with police, and ensuing action.”

on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114414028575345

Akwesasne welcomes the Peace Caravan

On 1 July 2009, 15 of us from Ottawa went to Akwesasne in a trip organized by IPSMO to show solidarity with the indigenous people of that territory. We were joined by about a dozen people from Montréal, organized by No One Is Illegal. The previous couple of days, a Six Nations Peace Caravan had arrived.

Despite some controversy surrounding the caravan that dissuaded many people from coming on these trips, the Peace Caravan and settler solidarity visits were warmly welcomed by Akwesasne residents. We enjoyed plentiful food and traditional songs, and listened to speeches of representatives from Six Nations, Kahnewake, Grassy Narrows, Mapuche, and the Akwesasne Womens Fire which organized hosting for the event and support for the occupation of the CBSA posts.

The new Grand Chief, who had just had been elected, updated those assembled on the situation. He emphasized that the arming of CBSA agents was only one of many grievances (at least 12) they had with government departments. He told us that a process had started for negotiation, beginning with (relatively) senior representatives of the Canadian government meeting chiefs half way. Notably, he observed that local Cornwall business leaders were not angry with the Akwesasne Mohawks at all and sympathized with them.

Pictures:
* http://picasaweb.google.com/peiju.wang/Akwesasne?feat=directlink
* http://picasaweb.google.com/warren.mcbride/AkwesasneJuly12009PeaceCaravan?feat=directlink

July 1: Akwesasne car caravan

Support the Mohawks of Akwesasne! Car Caravan to Akwesasne on July 1st

Car Caravan to Akwesasne
Wednesday, July 1st
Leaving Ottawa at 10:00am
ipsmo@riseup.net

On July 1st people from around “Ontario” will be heading to Akwesasne in support of the Mohawk community’s resistance to the arming of the Canadian Border Service Agency on June 1st.

On June 1st, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) border guards were scheduled to carry sidearms, but community resistance resulted in the closing of the border by the Canadian government.  Since then, the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne continues to resist the imposition of armed border guards by the CBSA.

The caravan from Ottawa will be leaving at 10:00am.  If you want to come down, contact us at: ipsmo@riseup.net

If you have a vehicle, and you want to take people down, contact us at: ipsmo@riseup.net

Community members have emphasized that it is important for supporters not to escalate the situation.

In Quotes:

“What the border has done to far too many of our First Nations communities is horrific and atrocious on so many levels — and it has poisoned our minds to think in singular factions, instead of a full circle…Which way is going to best resolve this situation I’m not sure of yet but I do know we have a right to stand up for our own community, which will never solely be in Canada or the United States. We belong to Mother Earth in whom no one has claim over – and where there aren’t any borders.” – Jessica Yee, Kanionke:haka (writing in rabble.ca, June 5, 2009)

“When the people make their decision, that’s what needs to be carried out, and the people have made their decision: there will be no firearms carried by customs agents on our territory.” — Sakoietah, member of the Men’s Traditional Council at Akwesasne (in an interview with No One Is Illegal Radio, June 4, 2009)

“[The Canadian Border Service Agency] is a foreign oppressive force who occupies our sovereign community and territory. (They are) unwelcome, uninvited and now carrying firearms. For lack of a different description, that is considered by some an act of war.” – Larry King, member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory (quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, May 29, 2009)

“They’ll have to accept armed border officers there.” – Peter Van Loan, Canadian Minister of Public Safety, responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency (quoted by Canadian Press, June 7, 2009)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

– CBSA agents were due to be armed at the Port of Cornwall (Kahwehnoke) crossing on June 1 2009, a policy universally opposed and condemned by the Akwesasne Mohawk Community –

[CBSA press release (May 9, 2009): http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/release-communique/2009/2009-05-09-eng.html]

The Mohawk territory of Akwesasne straddles the jurisdictions of Ontario, Quebec and New York State, and is a major international border crossing between Canada and the United States. Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) guards began arming in 2007, and there are currently more than 800 armed CBSA guards across Canada. The entire CBSA aims to be armed, in stages, by 2016. The CBSA announced that their agents at the Port of Entry at Cornwall (at Akwesasne) would be armed by June 1 of 2009.

As written in Mohawk Nation News on May 3, 2009: “For the next month Mohawks of Akwesasne will be protesting colonial Canadian border guards arming themselves with Beretta 9 mm handguns in the middle of our community. They hope to start on June 1. Akwesasne is on both sides of the foreign Canada-U.S. border and home to the whole community regardless of this imaginary line… A letter was sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to have meetings with Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and his predecessor Stockwell Day over a year ago. There has been no response. We hear that the European settler experience at the border is completely different. They are often waved through without harassment.” (For full article visit: http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=1076)

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne passed resolution #318 on February 28, 2008 forbidding firearms to be carried by Canada Border Services Agents CBSA on the territory of Akwesasne.

On May 8, 2009 over 250 Mohawks marched on the U.S.-Canada border. As written in Mohawk Nation News: “We are the most policed people in the world. Almost 20 U.S. and Canadian enforcement agencies traverse our community.” Daily disagreements have been instigated against Mohawks who must pass through the checkpoint on a daily basis. There have been serious injuries, hospitalizations, charges and assaults. So far there have been no fatalities. There has been a steady increase in racial profiling and slurs direct at us sanctioned by Canada. Incidents are being provoked to justify armed guards. Hundreds of complaints have been filed with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Canada Justice Department and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. No peaceful resolution has come forward.”

During the month of May, the community attempted to pressure and negotiate with the federal government and lobby at the international level. On May 26, 2009 Cornwall city council passed a resolution that no guns should be given to the CBSA guards. On May 28, 2009 Skarohreh Doug Anderson of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy presented a request to the Secretary of the UN Security Council to ask the UN to send officials to Akwesasne. Kenneth Deer of Kahnawake raised the issue of guns at Akwesasne with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous People.

Excerpt of statement to Secretary of the UN Security Council in New York: “On June 1 the Canada Border Services Agency guards will try to carry 9mm Berettas, which are meant to kill people. The UN must stop this attempt at ethnic cleansing at Akwesasne. Canada at the behest of the U.S. is trying to commit genocide on us, the real people of mother earth. The reasonable decision of the Haudenosaunee, our friends and supporters, is that there should be no guns anywhere on the Canada-U.S. border on the Canadian side. Canada is setting a precedent that any visitor arriving will have the barrel of a gun in their faces, so to say. We want the border station to be removed from the middle of Akwesasne. We know the power they presently exercise without the guns. They ridicule and demean us as we come through the border. They use their power of intimidation to pull us into their building away from the protective eyes of our friends and relatives. We have no choice but to cross many times a day to carry on our normal lives. The violence will always be directed at us and not at them. We want peace. These supposed peace officers are acting like war zone combatants. What a contradictory message Canada sends out to the world.”

The Akwesasne Mohawk Council Chiefs offered several compromise positions to senior Canada Border Services Agency officials during a meeting in Ottawa, but were rebuffed on May 28, 2009, according to Chief Larry King. During the Ottawa meeting, the chiefs unsuccessfully asked that the move be delayed for at least a year or until the end of CBSA’s arming process in 2016 to allow more time for community consultations as well as time for officers to be trained in cultural sensitivity by the community. The meeting ended with a declaration from CBSA president Stephen Rigby that our position is what it is; to which the chiefs responded, whatever happens will happen said King. (Source: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Armed+border+guards/1644877/story.html)

SOME ADDITIONAL HISTORY AND BACKGROUND:

-> Many members of the Akwesasne community currently opposing armed border guards have referenced the story of Saiowisakeron (Jake Ice), a traditional Mohawk man who was shot and killed by Dominion police in 1899. There is a statue of Jake Ice at Akwesasne, which has become a focal point to express opposition to armed border agents. More information about Jake Ice available here: www.wampumchronicles.com/saiowisakeron.html

-> In 1968, members of the community blocked the border-crossing bridge against the policy that forced Akwesasne residents to pay duty on purchases they made in the United States, despite the fact that the Jay Treaty of 1794, also known as the “Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation” affirmed that they were not required to do so. An NFB documentary by Mort Ransen is available online at: http://intercontinentalcry.org/you-are-on-indian-land/

For an extensive backgrounder, read “Forty-one year legacy of Mohawk resistance at Akwesasne border” by Mohawk Nation News.

-> June 2008: Mohawk grandmothers attacked by CBSA guards; more info here: http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com/2008/06/cbsa-attack.html

-> Katenies, a member of the Akwesasne community, has openly challenged the colonial “Canada-US” border. She refuses to recognize the authority of the Canadian courts to judge her for “border violations”.  Article/Audio compilation here: http://nooneisillegal-montreal.blogspot.com/2008/06/katenies-cbsa-background.html

[Information compiled by Harsha (No One Is Illegal-Vancouver) & Jaggi (No One Is Illegal-Montreal). Please send information for future updates to BOTH noii-van@resist.ca AND nooneisillegal@gmail.com]