Potluck Feast & Fundraiser! In Celebration of Algonquin Resistance to Assimilation

SRPEAD THE WORD!

Potluck Feast and Fundraiser!
In Celebration of Algonquin Resistance to Assimilation 

A dinner with a talk by Michel Thusky, a community spokesperson from the Algonquin Community of Barriere Lake and musical performance by Three Little Birds.

photo credit: Mike Barber

6:00 to 9:00 pm
Thursday, March 1, 2012
PSAC, J.K. Wyllie Boardroom, 233 Gilmour St., Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/284074431660322/

Come share a meal and help support the long-standing resistance of Mitchikanibikok Inik, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, to forced assimilation and extinction. This event is a fundraiser to help cover the community’s legal costs incurred in a costly court battle they’ve been forced into by the Canadian government.

Michel Thusky, a spokesperson from the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, will talk about community identity in the context of his people’s struggle to defend their land, their way of life, and their traditional governance system against attacks by the colonial governments of Quebec and Canada.

Please bring either a dish to share, or a suggested minimum donation of $5 to 20 to ensure the costs of this event are covered. Some extra food will be prepared to make sure there is enough to feed everyone.

All proceeds after costs are covered, will go to the Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund.

Download the poster and spread the word!

The event location is wheelchair-accessible.

For more information about the Mitchikanibikok Inik community and their current legal action, please see:
http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/mitchikanibikok-inik/

For musical performance by Three Little Birds:
www.threelittlebirdstheband.comhttp://www.myspace.com/threelittlebirdstheband

* This event is part of Barriere Lake Speaking Tour in Ontario and Quebec in March 2012: Ottawa (March 1), Waterloo (March 3), Toronto (March 5) and Montreal (Date: TBD)

Algonquin Resistance to Assimilation: Barriere Lake Speaks in Toronto
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St., Toronto

Snacks and refreshments will be available at the event.

For a good background video on Section 74 and the Barriere Lake struggle, see this short 4-minute film:

Media Release: Remote Algonquin First Nations travels en masse to Ottawa to protest Harper government’s attacks on their community and environmental agreement

Remote Algonquin First Nations travels en masse to Ottawa to protest Harper government’s attacks on their community and environmental agreement

Photo opportunity: A delegation will deliver a present — a giant copy of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a community resolution against assimilation– to Ministers Duncan and Harper at their offices

OTTAWA, DEC 13/CNW/– More than a hundred members of the Barriere Lake Algonquin First Nation traveled to Ottawa today to demand the Harper government honour a landmark environmental agreement and stop waging a campaign of forcible assimilation against the community. They will be joined by a broad network of hundreds of supporters, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Council of Canadians, KAIROS, the New Democratic Party and Green Party, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and many others.

“How can anyone trust a government that won’t honour its word?” says Tony Wawatie, a Barriere Lake community spokesperson. In 1991, Canada and Quebec signed the United Nations-praised Trilateral Agreement with Barriere Lake to create a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometers of the community’s traditional territory, but both the federal and provincial governments have refused to implement it.

“This agreement would allow us to protect our land and be economically independent. But Canada and Quebec don’t want to share the land’s wealth. So the Harper government is violating our constitutional rights by trying to forcibly abolish our traditional government, which maintains our sacred connection to the land and our ability to protect the environment,” says Wawatie.

In August, the Harper government imposed an Indian Act election process on Barriere Lake, in which less than a dozen community members cast ballots, while the rest of the community boycotted. Almost 200 people signed a resolution rejecting the entire process, wishing to preserve the traditional governance system they have used for countless generations. Four councillors and a Chief were acclaimed, but even the Chief resigned in protest.

“This is an undemocratic, unwanted, and foreign governance regime installed in order to derail our environmental agreement” says Wawatie. “Minister Duncan and the Harper government must reverse their draconian action and respect our right to maintain our traditional government.”

In an op-ed published today in the Globe & Mail, author and Giller-prize winner Joseph Boyden called on the Harper government to end its “abusive, bullying, and undemocratic” treatment of Barriere Lake.

“It would be a terrible tragedy for [Barriere Lake’s] customs to be struck down by the mere stroke of a Minister’s pen after they have served this First Nation well for so many decades and centuries,” National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations wrote Minister Duncan in a letter recently, urging him to reverse his department’s actions. “The Chiefs in Assembly have instructed me to stand with and in support of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and I will do so. My preference is to do so in a way that promotes reconciliation with the department rather than confrontation.”

“Indigenous people who gather, hunt, and fish their food have an unmatched knowledge of the land and an interest in caring for it. They are the front-line of defense in protecting the environment for all of us,” says Arthur Manuel, director of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, and member of the Defenders of the Land network. “This is also their right because it is their land. This right is affirmed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Canadian Constitution. It’s time for the Canadian government to deal honourably and respect that right.”

“Maintaining a traditional governance system that is rooted in their cultural heritage is an integral part of fulfilling mandates that meet the vision of a sustainable community,” said Elizabeth May, national leader of the Green Party of Canada.

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PRESS CONFERENCE

WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, at 11:00 AM

WHERE: Charles Lynch Room (130-S, Centre Block), Parliament Hill, Ottawa

WHO: Charlie Angus- NDP MP,  Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade, Tony Wawatie – Barriere Lake Community spokesperson

RALLY

WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, from NOON to 2PM

WHERE: March begins on Parliament Hill, with speeches then starting at 1-1:15pm in front of Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office at the Confederation building (Bank & Wellington).

For further information:

Tony Wawatie, Barriere Lake community spokesperson: 819-860-4121

To arrange interviews : 514-550-8706

For more information: www.barrierelakesolidarity.org

French version of this release (.doc): http://bit.ly/i3ul9T

For Joseph Boyden’s op-ed in the Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/why-we-try-to-protect-our-land-lessons-from-barriere-lake/article1833684/

 

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Harper government’s assault on environmental agreements and democracy in Barriere Lake First Nation to be exposed and protested Monday

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Harper government’s assault on environmental agreements and democracy in Barriere Lake First Nation to be exposed and protested Monday

OTTAWA, DEC 9/CNW/– Hundreds of members of the small Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake and of a broad network of unions, churches, human rights groups and the New Democratic and Green Party will march in Ottawa on Monday, challenging the Harper government to honour a landmark environmental agreement and to stop waging a campaign of forcible assimilation against the community.

Earlier in the morning, press conference speakers will present startling details about how Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan and the Harper government have been flagrantly violating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, belying their endorsement of it in November.

They will speak about how Minister Duncan and the Harper government have imposed a government on Barriere Lake selected by only a handful of band members against overwhelming community opposition — an undemocratic, unwanted, and foreign governance regime installed in order to derail a landmark environmental pact signed with Barriere Lake. The agreement is intended to establish a sustainable development plan for logging over 10,000 square kilometres.

National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations has proposed to undertake a joint fact-finding mission with Indian and Northern Affairs to resolve the governance situation, but Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan has not responded.

PRESS CONFERENCE
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, at 11:00 A M
WHERE: Charles Lynch Room (130-S, Centre Block), Parliament Hill, Ottawa
WHO:  Charlie Angus- NDP MP,  Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade, Tony Wawatie – Barriere Lake Community spokesperson

RALLY
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 13, at NOON
WHERE:Parliament Hill, with speeches at 1pm in front of Minister Duncan’s office at the Confederation building (Bank & Wellington) , including representatives from major Unions, KAIROS , Council of Canadians, Green Party, Indigenous Environmental Network, and others

For further information:
Tony Wawatie, Barriere Lake community spokesperson: 819-860-4121
For media backgrounders : 514-550-8706
For more information: http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org

Press release: Barriere Lake governance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Canada seeks to unconstitutionally abolish Algonquin’s customary government to avoid honouring agreements and recognizing legitimate leadership

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory:– On Friday, October 30, 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 a section of the Indian Act that would abolish the customary method they use to select their leaders.

The attempt at assimilation would be a violation of Barriere Lake’s constitutionally-protected Aboriginal right to their customary system of government.

“The Canadian government doesn’t want to deal with our Customary Chief and Council because we are demanding that the federal and Quebec governments implement agreements they signed with us regarding the exploitation of our lands and resources. So rather than recognize me, they want to do away with our customary system of government by which I was selected,” says Jean Maurice Matchewan, Customary Chief of Barriere Lake. “And while they are not recognizing our community’s legitimate leadership, Quebec has been taking advantage by illegally allowing forestry companies to clear-cut our forests in violation of our Trilateral agreement.”

Documents released under court-order indicate the Government of Canada was invested in quashing the precedent-setting Trilateral agreement, signed with Barriere Lake in 1991, and undermining Barriere Lake’s legitimate Customary Chief and Council.[1]

Jean Maurice Matchewan was reselected as Customary Chief on June 24, 2009, but the Government of Canada has refused to answer six consecutive letters sent by Barriere Lake’s lawyers, the last on Thursday, October 29, requesting that the Government recognize this result. The June leadership selection process was facilitated by Keith Penner, a former Member of Parliament who chaired the Special Parliamentary Committee on Indian Self-Government in 1983 that culminated in the historic Penner Report on Indian First Nations Self-Government. Penner concluded that Matchewan and his Council “followed and adhered to in each and every respect” Barriere Lake’s Customary Governance Code and are the “the legitimate and properly constituted leaders,” a result which should clear up confusion about the identity of Barriere Lake’s legitimate Customary Chief and Council.[2]

At a Federal Court hearing on September 24, 2009, Prothontary Tabib urged the Minister, in light of the new leadership selection, to withdraw his recognition of Casey Ratt, whom the Minister has been dealing with as Chief since March 2008.  This could allow the claims to leadership to be resolved through the Courts. Rather than recognize the June leadership selection or take direction from the Courts. Minister Strahl has decided to impose elections on Barriere Lake, alleging the community is “lacking the political will and the governance tools to resolve this matter” of their leadership selection.

“We already have a Customary Governance Code, which would work well if it were not for the internal interference of the Government of Canada. First the Government of Canada recognized and worked with a minority faction which didn’t respect our Customary Governance Code, in order to derail our signed agreements. Now that we have the Government backed into a corner because of our legal challenges and the recent leadership selection process, which was documented by credible witnesses, they are trying to win some more time by attacking our customs,” says Customary Chief Matchewan.

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. But Barriere Lake’s Customary governance code is recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, and the Minister is therefore prevented from changing their customary system of government.

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 since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral Agreement in 1998, but has stalled implementation despite the 2006 recommendations of two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, that the agreement be implemented. The 2006 recommendations include forest plans to harmonize logging operations with the Algonquin’s land use and revenue-sharing to give the Algonquins a $1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out of their territory every year.

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, a Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to support Chief Matchewan.

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Media contacts:
Jean Maurice Matchewan, Customary Chief of Barriere Lake: 819-435-2136

Notes
[1] http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2009/08/another-smoking-gun-top-diplomats.html
[2] http://ia341334.us.archive.org/0/items/2009-06-24AblPennerLeadershipReport_695/2009-06-24AblLeadershipReport.pdf