Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa – www.ipsmo.org

October 6, 2014

URGENT ACTION: Contact Ottawa City Council, Mayor, Domtar before October 8 rezoning decision on Chaudiere Islands

 

CALL TO ACTION FOLLOWS MAIN MESSAGE:

The Planning Committee hearing from one of the many people who spoke in opposition to the rezoning plans.

The Planning Committee hearing from one of the many people who spoke in opposition to the rezoning plans.

On Wednesday October 8th (meeting starts at 10:00am), Ottawa City Council will make their final decision on the rezoning application for Chaudiere and Albert Islands, giving the go ahead for condos, retail and office space to be built there by Windmill Development Group.

This follows the City Planning Committee meeting of October 2nd, where they heard from citizens who were overwhelmingly opposed to such a decision, who spoke of the sacredness of this to the Algonquin and other Anishinaabe peoples, and in support of Grandfather William Commanda’s vision for these islands, yet the committee unanimously went ahead and recommended the rezoning.

There will be no public input at Wednesday’s full council meeting, but you can contact your city councilor as well as the mayor in the lead-up to the meeting to voice your concerns.

As well, you can contact Domtar, who currently holds the land in question, and urge them facilitate its return to ensure the manifestation of the legacy vision of its rightful heir, late Alqonquin spiritual elder and leader Grandfather William Commanda.

The islands in question are envisioned to be public space, turned into parkland accessible to all, fitting with the sacred nature of the Chaudiere Falls / Asinabka site. This is part of William Commanda’s larger vision for the Chaudiere Falls and all the islands there.

Please consider voicing your support for Grandfather William Commanda’s vision, both to Ottawa City Council and to Domtar.

We note the historic and ongoing sacredness of this site for the Algonquin people, and all Anishinaabe peoples. It has been used for thousands of years as a place of prayer, and of coming together of peoples from many parts of this continent.

Now that the industry that has been built upon this site over the past 200 years is finished, why not return the site to its traditional spiritual use, honouring the ways of the First Peoples of this land?

Instead they are looking to give the go-ahead to private and commercial development at this site – is this truly the best way forward?

 
FOUR URGENT ACTIONS:

  • 2) Contact Domtar (President & CEO, Mr John D. Williams): information@domtar.com
  • 3) Public Consultation / workshop / site visit
    Tuesday October 7, between 4:30-8:00pm – click here for full details
    *Note: This is for other islands at Chaudiere Falls, not the two immediately under consideration for rezoning
  • 4) Invite your friends to the Facebook event to spread the word. Also share / email it or this post.
  • ALSO: if you would like to attend the Ottawa City Council meeting, it takes place Wednesday October 8th, starting at 10:00am, in Andrew S Haydon Hall at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave W.

 
BACKGROUND INFO / RESOURCES:

 
MEDIA COVERAGE FROM THE PLANNING COMMITTEE HEARING:

 

September 30, 2014

URGENT: Chaudière Falls & Islands sacred site – Proposed condominium rezoning hearing, City of Ottawa

URGENT: 4pm Wed Oct 1st deadline to register to speak or submit to the City of Ottawa Planning Committee, that is meeting Thurs Oct 2nd 9:30am at City Hall to consider a rezoning proposal for two of the islands in order to allow the Windmill condominium development

Overview of planning vision for Indigenous & Peace Centres on sacred islands at Chaudiere Falls.

Overview of vision for Indigenous & Peace Centres on sacred islands at Chaudiere Falls.

Continue reading / scrolling for registration instructions & background information, along with compelling new 10-min video of renowned Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal.

The Planning Committee will decide upon a recommendation to put forward for voting on by the full City council on Oct 8th, but there will be no opportunity for public input at the Oct 8th meeting.

Giving the go-ahead to building condominiums on these islands would detrimentally impact the ability to achieve the full vision of the late Algonquin spiritual leader Grandfather William Commanda for this religious / sacred site.

—-

TO REGISTER: Contact Committee Coordinator, Christopher Zwierzchowski at 613-580-2424 extension 21359, in advance of the meeting, by at least 4:00 pm on Wednesday, to register to speak to the committee (presentations of 5 minutes maximum).

Or, you can email him a written submission, by the same deadline (or possibly anytime before midnight on Wed Oct 1st), at: christopher.zwierzchowski@ottawa.ca – also cc: hieu.nguyen@ottawa.ca

OF NOTE: If a person or public body does not make oral submissions at the public meeting or make written submissions to the City of Ottawa before the proposed official plan amendment is adopted or the zoning by-law is passed, the person or public body is not entitled to appeal the decision of the Council of the City of Ottawa to the Ontario Municipal Board.

ALSO: Call or email your local councillor, especially if they are on the Planning Committee, to express your concern. Members of the Planning Committee are: Peter Hume, chair; Jan Harder, vice-chair; Stephen Blais; Rainer Bloess; Rick Chiarelli; Catherine Hobbs; Allan Hubley; Bob Monette; Shad Qadri; Tim Tierney. Contact information for councillors is at: http://ottawa.ca/en/city-council

—-

BACKGROUND INFORMATION on Grandfather William Commanda’s vision for the Sacred Chaudière Site, and on the City’s rezoning proposal:

VIDEO – Architect Douglas Cardinal explaining things (link to watch on youtube)

—-

June 22, 2014

Regarding William Commanda’s Legacy Vision for the Sacred Chaudiere Site

June21doc-coanlogoJUNE 21, 2014 CIRCLE OF ALL NATIONS MESSAGE REGARDING WILLIAM COMMANDA’S LEGACY VISION FOR THE SACRED CHAUDIERE SITE – FROM ROMOLA V. THUMBADOO

Download the document here (25-pg pdf)

june21doc-gwcwwampumCONTENTS:

SECTION ONE – AN OPEN LETTER

  1. A Personal Preamble
  2. Open Letter on behalf of the Legacy Vision of Indigenous Spiritual Leader and Elder, Dr. William Commanda, OC, Carrier of the Sacred Wampum Belt Heritage

SECTION TWO – THE SACRED CHAUDIERE SITE AND VICTORIA ISLAND ISSUES PAPER – Key Information

  1. William Commanda – 11 November, 1913 – 3 August, 2011
  2. Sacred Cultural Heritage Site
  3. June21doc-overviewmapDevelopment of the Vision for the Sacred Chaudière Site
  4. The Sacred Chaudière Site and the vision and the commitment of three exemplary Indigenous rights leaders of international renown and relevance – William Commanda, Douglas Cardinal and Donald Marshall Junior
  5. Current Challenges
  6. A Critical Consideration – First Peoples/Canada Relations in 2014

SECTION THREE – THE LEGACY VISION FOR THE SACRED CHAUDIERE SITE

  1. Mandate
  2. The Core Vision (first presented in 2003)
  3. Critical Imperatives
  4. Expected Key Results

SECTION FOUR – AN INVITATION TO DREAM BIG TO SAFE GUARD AND ANIMATE THE LIVING LEGACY OF WILLIAM COMMANDA

  1. Blueprint for the future: William Commanda’s Legacy Vision for Asinabka in a Nutshell
  2. Recommendation/Exhortation

.

Download the document here (25-pg pdf)

—-

January 16, 2014

Jan 21 – Canada, Industry, and Press, Oh My!

 
Inherent Indigenous Nationhood and Protection of the Land in the Face of Foreign Conceptualizations of Indigeneity

Tues Jan 21st, 7-9pm
at University of Ottawa, Desmarais Building room 12102
(55 Laurier Ave E, on the transitway at Laurier Station)

 

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Panel discussion featuring Elders, Protectors of the Land, Traditional Leaders and Citizens from:

  • Barriere Lake First Nation
  • Haudenosaunee Confederacy
  • Kelly Lake Cree Nation
  • Lubicon Lake Nation

Moderators: Janice Makokis, Saddle Lake First Nation, and Professor Angela Cameron

Official info: http://uocal.uottawa.ca/en/node/7245

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/513304998784498

 

May 13, 2013

Official Opening May 16, 4pm – SAKAHÀN: Ground-Breaking International Indigenous Exhibition

Please join us for this ground-breaking, history making art exhibition by the National Gallery of Canada!

Van Gogh was not this big. Monet was not this big. Caravaggio was not this big! Nothing the gallery has ever done has been this big!!

188 art pieces by 82 Indigenous artists from 16 countries display contemporary Indigenous art that addresses social, political and cultural issues from around the world.

Full info on the exhibit: www.gallery.ca/sakahan/

—-

A Special Traditional Algonquin Welcoming Ceremony  - For the Indigenous Artists of SAKAHÀN

A Special Traditional Algonquin Welcoming Ceremony – For the Indigenous Artists of SAKAHÀN

Please come and join us for the OFFICIAL welcoming & opening for SAKAHÀN: International Indigenous Art Exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada!

Thursday May 16, 2013

Here’s what’s happening:

1-3pm Sacred Fire at Victoria Island with Peter Decontie

3pm Canoes to deliver Sakahán bundle to the river’s edge near the gallery

(This is where you come in!)

4pm Elder Albert Dumont (blessing/prayer) & Claudette Commanda (Sakahàn teaching) Ceremony with Indigenous Artists from around the world (Amphitheatre: outside in the front of the gallery)

5pm Sakahàn Exhibition opens (Galleries)

6pm Official Opening with the Director & Chair of the National Gallery of Canada, Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, Eagle River Drummers from Kitigan Zibi with Gabriel Whiteduck, Hoop Dancer (Rhonda Doxtator) in the Auditorium (break-out rooms with screens available)

7pm Tour the Sakahàn Exhibition (Galleries)

8pm After party with Inuit & Métis entertainment. Light refreshments will be served (Water Court & Terrace)

10pm after-after party tbd

For more information please contact Jaime Koebel, Sakahán Educator, National Gallery of Canada:jkoebel@gallery.ca or 613 991-4610

This event is open and free to the public. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about Aboriginal issues – this is the place to be.

 

July 25, 2012

Book launch – Fractured Homeland by Bonita Lawrence – Aug 13

Launch of Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario. Featuring author Bonita Lawrence, Bob Majaury (Ottawa Algonquins), Daniel Bernard Amikwabe (Algonquin Union) & other speakers!

UPDATE – Watch the video recording of the event:

Monday August 13, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Minwaashin Lodge, 424 Catherine St (2nd floor)
Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory

Free admission; copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Hosted by Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO), co-sponsored by Minwaashin Lodge and Octopus Books.

Click here for event on Facebook. Click here to download poster (pdf).

Fractured Homelandis about non-status Algonquins in Ontario — their diverse struggles around identity and nationhood — set against the backdrop of the Algonquin comprehensive land claim

About the author:Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) teaches Indigenous Studies at York University in Toronto. She is the author of “Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood.

More about the book:In 1992, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the only federally recognized Algonquin reserve in Ontario, launched a comprehensive land claim. The claim drew attention to the reality that two-thirds of Algonquins in Canada have never been recognized as Indian, and have therefore had to struggle to reassert jurisdiction over their traditional lands.

Fractured Homeland is Bonita Lawrence’s stirring account of the Algonquins’ twenty-year struggle for identity and nationhood despite the imposition of a provincial boundary that divided them across two provinces, and the Indian Act, which denied federal recognition to two-thirds of Algonquins. Drawing on interviews with Algonquins across the Ottawa River watershed, Lawrence voices the concerns of federally unrecognized Algonquins in Ontario, whose ancestors survived land theft and the denial of their rights as Algonquins, and whose family histories are reflected in the land. The land claim not only forced many of these people to struggle with questions of identity, it also heightened divisions as those who launched the claim failed to develop a more inclusive vision of Algonquinness.

This path-breaking exploration of how a comprehensive claims process can fracture the search for nationhood among First Nations also reveals how federally unrecognized Algonquin managed to hold onto a distinct sense of identity, despite centuries of disruption by settlers and the state.

For a sample Chapter:

http://www.ubcpress.ca/books/pdf/chapters/2012/FracturedHomeland.pdf

March 9, 2012

Honouring Indigenous Women Campaign Launch Party!

The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) is inviting you to the launch of its Honouring Indigenous Women Campaign and its Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nations – Vol. 1 booklet!

Click to download the poster and spread the word!

7 – 9 PM. Monday, March 19, 2012
Arts Court Studio, 2 Daly Ave. Ottawa
Unceded Algonquin Territory

Join us for a night of poetry, drumming and more, in celebration of the Power of Indigenous Women and their Special Relationship to Water!

To invite your friends via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/320011758055132/

MC: Cindy Gaudet (Métis)

Opening ceremony and women’s teaching by Verna McGregor (Algonquin) and Elaine Kicknosway (Swampy Cree from Northern Saskatchewan)

Featuring …..

Ruby Arnga-naaq (Inuit)
Earth Mothers women drumming group
Water teaching by Grandmother Francine Payer
Vera Wabegijig (Ojibwe),
Suzanne Keeptwo (Métis – Algonquin/French & Irish descent),
Jaime Koebel (Métis),
David Groulx (Ojibwe/Métis)

* There will be items made by Indigenous peoples for sale at this event.

About our campaign:

Our Honouring Indigenous Women Campaign aims at raising awareness on and putting an end to the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women. As a group mostly composed of non-Indigenous peoples who have participated or been complicit in the past and present colonization of Native peoples and lands, it is of utmost importance for us to support the work of Indigenous peoples in this regard. This campaign is an act of solidarity, and aims at supporting existing efforts from Indigenous women. As such, we are hoping to mobilize over 500 people to take part in the annual Families of Sisters in Spirit Vigil organized in Ottawa on October 4th.

This campaign also aims at understanding the links between violence against Indigenous women, colonialism, land and Indigenous Sovereignty. We echo the demands for equity, justice, and decolonization formulated by Indigenous women whom we have tremendous respect for.

We support self-determination of Indigenous peoples and work towards creating and maintaining respectful relationships with the First peoples of this land.

The campaign would not be as strong without the publication of the Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nation-Vol. 1 . The booklet, composed of five sections – Struggle, Resistance, Power, Liberation, and Be Solidarity, gives to Indigenous women their due space to express their lived realities through various art forms. Through this publication, we strive to augment the voices of Indigenous women in their many efforts to break the silence surrounding the systemic violence perpetuated by colonialism. It is, for us, a concrete and creative form of solidarity.

As a wise woman told us, we cannot achieve the ethic of respect by formulating demands, we will clearly state our hopes and expectations for this campaign and beyond, as well as announce our upcoming projects at our March 19th event. Stay tune!

To download Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nation-Vol. 1:  https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/honouring-indigenous-women/

Understanding violence against Indigenous women:

January 20, 2011

Algonquin Native Lights Sacred Fire to Denounce Anticipated Forest Destruction

UPDATE: As of Sunday Jan 23, the Sacred Fire has been passed on to be kept up by the community (and volunteers are needed to take shifts) – click here for more …

OTTAWA –  Algonquin Daniel Bernard “Amikwabe” set up a camp this morning to keep a Sacred Fire burning round the clock next to the entrance of the Beaver Pond forest at the end of Walden Drive in Kanata.  This is a personal initiative “to denounce the massacre of the wildlife and this sacred forest” in response to a declaration by Algonquin Elder William Commanda that the forest is sacred.

The landowner, KNL Developments, moved tree-clearing equipment on to Beaver Pond lands January 18 after receiving City of Ottawa approval to proceed with plans to build a housing development.  Development plans have been contested by citizens for decades, and protest has peaked in recent months.

Grandfather William Commanda, the most senior Algonquin Elder, has stated that the area is sacred to his people, and has written letters to all levels of government urging protection of the land.  Four First Nations groups, Chiefs, and Elders have written similar letters of concern (see links below).

Archaeological artifacts have been found nearby that show evidence of pre-contact civilization.  Natives and non-Natives alike are calling for a comprehensive archaeological assessment and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal peoples before any development proceeds.

On January 12, the City’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee passed a resolution noting that the City of Ottawa “should be seen as an example role-model to other municipalities in Canada in respecting Aboriginal affairs” and asked the City take the lead in conducting a new archaeological survey of the entire South March Highlands.

Gordon O’Connor, MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, recently asked the National Capital Commission to include the Beaver Pond forest in its upcoming revision of the Greenbelt master plan. Carleton-Mississippi Mills MPP Norm Sterling wrote letters January 17 to the Premier of Ontario and several other Ministers in support of protecting this land.

Robert Lovelace, former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, recently wrote that “If Mayor Jim Watson were a real leader, he would know enough to realize that the incremental destruction of the last wildlands in the city needs to stop.  As a real Chief, he would be on the side of the people and the land.” (see link below)

A Sacred Fire is a peaceful religious observance.  Bernard, of the Algonquin Beaver Clan, invites others to join him and pray for the forest and the animals.  He plans to keep the fire burning until Sunday, January 23.

Members of the community are providing support to Bernard, and will be joining him throughout the protest.  All are committed to protecting the Beaver Pond forest and other environmentally sensitive areas of the South March Highlands, which is home to more than 675 species, including 19 species at risk, and recognized by the City as one of the most biodiverse areas in Ottawa

– 30-

For more information:
Steve Hulaj — 613 878-1135

Directions:
Exit Highway 417 at Terry Fox Drive and go North past the shopping centers.  Turn Right and take Kanata Avenue up the hill.  Proceed past Goulbourn Forced Road on the left and high school on right, to Walden.  Turn Left on Walden and proceed to the very end.

BACKGROUND:

Letters sent by First Nations to-date:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-09-Kinounchepirini_Algonquin_FirstNation_Letter.jpg
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-09-SMH_Ottawa_Algonquin_FN_Support.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-10-AAFN_letter%20to_Ottawa.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-14-Ottawa_Letter_From_Kichesipirini_Algonqiun_FN.pdf

And by Grandfather William Commanda:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-08-24_Circle_of_Nations-South_March_Highlands.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-12-20-GWC_Letter_To_Council.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-05-GWC-Message_Regarding_Development_at_South_March_Highlands

And by other Grandfathers:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-08-14-A_plea_for_the_forest-Grandfather_Albert_Dumond.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-14-Grandfather_Lovelace_Letter_to_the_Editor_Revelation18.pdf

Motion passed unanimously by Ottawa’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee: http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-12-Unanimous_AHCAC_Motion_on_SMH.pdf

Background info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZBcLvtcJBY (4 minute documentary video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhSU5heJl5o (cultural and natural heritage video)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2011-01-13-SMH-1-SMH_Overview_v16.pdf (SMH Overview presentation)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-12-07-SMH-2-Stewardship_Plan_Overview_v4.pdf

Other Letters of Support (e.g. David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor, MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/

Submission to NCC on South March Highlands:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper%20App5%20-%20SMH.pdf

www.ottawasgreatforest.com (website for the stewardship plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca (website for the coalition to protect the SMH)

January 11, 2011

Thurs 13 Jan noon – Save Ottawa’s old-growth forest Rally!

Protect the Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata


We demand the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the Province of Ontario to hold the development of the Beaver Pond Forest!

The Beaver Pond Forest is on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Territory.  All level of the government – the City of Ottawa, the NCC and the Province of Ontario must respect the requests of the Algonquin First Nation communities as well as the local Ottawa community to do a full archeological assessment of possible medicine wheels and artifacts dated back 10,000 years ago.

~~ RALLY! ~~

Noon, Thurs Jan 13
Meet at the Human Rights Monument, Elgin at Lisgar, next to City Hall

GOAL

This is a rally to demand that the City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission (NCC), and the Province of Ontario step up and do their job: order Urbandale Corporations and KNL Development Inc. not to clear-cut or blast any of the Beaver Pond Forest at least until spring when an archaeological assessment can be re-done.

This is for ecological, archaeological, cultural, spiritual and humane reasons. All levels of government could halt development based on new evidence that the archaeological assessment needs to be redone. But none is taking responsibility. So we are taking action to remind them to do their jobs and make the City of Ottawa a better place to live, for us now and for future generations.

PLAN for Thurs Jan 13:

  • 12pm (noon): Assemble at the Human Rights Monument at corner of Lisgar & Elgin, next to City Hall
  • Bring your own signs, we also have some made which will be used in a subsequent Activist Art show (first come, first served 😉
  • statements will be read, letters delivered, songs shared. We will march to the NCC Office at 40 Elgin Street, past their Info Ctr across from, Parliament Hill, and end back at City Hall. Exact schedule TBA.
  • Be musical (bring instruments & noisemakers!)
  • Main Message to City Hall, NCC, & Province: Take Responsibility! Do the Right Thing: Save Beaver Pond Forest!

MORE INFO

“Some twelve thousand years ago the South March Highlands where the Beaver Pond Forest is found was an island surrounded by the waters of the ice age created Champlain Sea. As the water receded, a rich and fertile land renewed its relationship with the winds. The birds, insects, animals and people living on the highlands at that time carried the seeds of trees and also pollen of the islandís plant life further and further into their ever-widening territory.” – Algonquin elder Albert Dumont

Now the developers are set to destroy the forest in order to build a subdivision. The commencement of destruction is immanent – we need to take a stand NOW!

Community voices:
http://the5thc.blogspot.com/
http://candle4kindness.wordpress.com/

A letter from Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin Elder, to the relevant public officials: http://www.ottawasgreatforest.com/Site/Algonquin_Information.html

Details on inadequate environmental assessment & storm waster management plans: http://renaud.ca/wordpress/?p=716

TAKE ACTION:

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Marie Lemay, Chief Executive Officer of NCC,
marie.lemay@ncc-ccn.ca
Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Culture, mchan.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Peter Evans, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister for Culture,
Peter.Evans@ontario.ca
Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, cbentley.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Gordon O’Connor, Federal Cabinet Minister and MP for Kanata,
oconng@parl.gc.ca
Norm Sterling, MPP for Kanata, norm.sterlingco@pc.ola

Also write to the developers to hold the development of the Beaver Pond Forest and do a full archeological assessment of that area:
Urbandale: mjarvis@urbandale.com 613-731-6331http://urbandale.com/corp
Richcraft: info@richcraft.com – 613-739-7111 – http://richcraft.com

Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Do-Not-Cut-Beaver-Pond-Forest-or-SMH/

Join the network to help protect this precious land:
– email info@ottawasgreatforest.com and ask to stay updated
– or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46087029890

UPDATES

Any updates will be on the FB Event page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155983114454420 and at http://candle4kindness.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/save-beaver-pond-forest-rally-at-city-hall-13-january-noon/

March 5, 2010

Local activists to face Quebec judge over Barriere Lake Algonquin highway blockades

Local activists to face Quebec judge over Barriere Lake Algonquin highway blockades

by Krishna E. Bera, Lori Waller, and Greg Macdougall, with files from IPSMO

On March 18th, an Ottawa resident along with a co-defendant from the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake will go to trial in a Maniwaki court on charges of obstruction of justice, mischief, and assaulting a police officer. On March 31th, three other local residents will be sentenced for similar charges. What is their grevious crime? Bringing attention to the fact that the governments of Quebec and Canada have not honoured their word.

The cases both stem from a series of peaceful highway blockades mounted in late 2008 by the Mitchikanibikok Inik (Algonquins of Barriere Lake, or ABL), a small First Nation community located 130 km north of Maniwaki, Quebec. Solidarity activists from Ontario and Quebec joined the Mitchikanibikok Inik in two successive blockades of Highway 117, which were staged to protest the provincial and federal governments’ ongoing violation of an agreement signed with ABL over a decade ago .

As Norman Matchewan, youth spokesperson for the Mitchikanibikok Inik explained in an op-ed to the Montréal Gazette: “In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to sustainably develop our traditional territories – a United Nations report called the plan an environmental ‘trailblazer.’ Yet in 1996, the federal government tried to hijack the agreement by replacing our legitimate chief and council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside.”

The colonial pattern continued. In thirteen years of hardship and struggle from the signing of the Trilateral Agreement, it and several subsequent agreements were never fulfilled. Consequently, the Algonquins still have not seen one dime out of the $100 million extracted from their traditional territory every year by logging, hydro, and sport hunting operations. The Barriere Lake Algonquins have witnessed the continual exploitation of their lands, in violation of the Trilateral Agreement guidelines, by unsustainable extraction practices such as clearcutting. In a community where many continue to subsist off the land, this destruction of their traditional territory has directly compromised their ability to live. The exploitation of the land was coupled with strong government interference in the community’s traditional leadership selection process. Not only were the customary chief and council bypassed, but the band council was placed under third party management. Third party management constitutes the highest level of financial intervention in a community and results in a complete financial and managerial takeover. It was this that resulted in the hiring of teachers at the Barriere Lake community school who refused to allow children to speak Algonquin. This was a particularly painful throw back to the era of residential schools.

So in October 2008, after months of public education, letter writing, and visits to MPs, which prompted no response from the government, the community took the difficult decision to blockade provincial Highway 117, demanding to speak to a government representative. The blockaders were attacked within hours by police. Norman Matchewan describes the assault: “To avoid negotiations, the government allowed Monday’s peaceful blockade to be dismantled by the Sûreté du Québec, which without provocation shot tear gas canisters into a crowd of youth and elders and used severe ‘pain compliance’ to remove people clipped into lockbox barrels.”

One person was hospitalized for three days after getting shot with a tear gas canister. An Ottawa student acting in solidarity with the community characterized the government’s behaviour as a sort of warning: “Don’t fuck with us or this is what we’ll do to you”.

Unfortunately, there was still no negotiation, so the ABL erected blockades again in November 2008. This time the police response seemed deliberately appeared less violent; although community members felt clearly threatened when the police approached with teargas cannon launchers. Instead police carried out targeted arrests of community leaders, including chief Benjamin Nottaway. Arrestees were stip-searched and intimidated with what one activist called “bureaucratic violence”; an Ottawa student activist spent 24 hours in jail before being released, and an ABL community spokesperson spent five days in custody because “they couldn’t find a translator”. In all, over 40 people from the community have been arrested and charged since March 2008 and a few, including then-chief Nottaway, have served sentences in prison.

The ABL have not given up, and have no intention of surrendering aboriginal title to their land. They continue to live on the land and apply traditional management techniques where possible, preserving their language and culture, while pursuing court cases to ensure their leadership selection process is respected.

In August 2009, a 2007 private report to the federal minister of Indian Affairs was obtained under court order. The report lays out a wide-ranging set of schemes to undermine the Barriere Lake First Nation’s Customary Chief and Council and ensure that the community’s Trilateral agreement never takes on life. Couched in the language of development and progress, it demonstrates what the community has known for a long time but which the Department of Indian Affairs has always publicly denied: the federal government has refused to implement the Trilateral Agreement because it fears it would throw into question their Comprehensive Claims process, which amounts to a modern-day land grab aimed at extinguishing aboriginal title to the land. (Details on the report can be found on Barriere Lake Solidarity’s website)

In October 2009, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl sent notice to the Algonquins of Barriere Lake that he will not recognize their legitimate leadership, but instead impose elections on the community in April 2010, by invoking section 74 of the Indian Act that would abolish the customary method they use to select their leaders.

In February 2010, the ABL presented arguments in the Supreme Court of Canada defending their latest leadership selection. A couple weeks later, the court’s decision was that the selection was not held according to ABL’s customary governance code. At the time of writing, we haven’t heard from the ABL community on their legal opinion on this court decision. However, it is our opinion that the judge misinterpreted the customary governance code with inconsistent logic in his arguments, which might play a role in paving the way for the INAC to impose section 74 of the Indian Act.

Meanwhile, local activists and Barriere Lake community members are preparing for trial and/or sentencing on the charges stemming from the 2008 blockades. Support is needed in the form of presence in the courtroom and donations toward legal and research costs; if you can attend court (on March 18 and 31 in Maniwaki – rides being arranged from Ottawa) or would like to donate, please email ipsmo@riseup.net

You can read more about the Mitchikanibikok Inik and their struggle on the websites of the following groups, or by coming to one of the meetings or events in your area:
• Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa: www.ipsmo.org
• Barriere Lake Solidarity: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com

*Note: different versions of this article appeared on Linchpin.ca and in the local Peace and Environment News (PEN) paper

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