In Commemoration of Grandfather William Commanda and Jack Layton

Dear Friends,

This past month, two well-known people in our community – Grandfather William Commanda and Jack Layton – along with many more unknown heroes around the globe, went to the Spirit world. It is sad time for us but we know that they are in a peaceful place now. We send our love and prayer to all of their relatives and wish them strength to continue the work of these two men and countless others for peace. Grandfather and Jack had very different world views but they both spent most of their life working for their people. It is an honour to work for the people.

Photo Credit: Charline Dequincey

Grandfather William Commanda, the respectful spiritual leader of the Algonquin Nation, passed away on the morning of August 3. He would be 98 years old on November 11 this year! Ojigkwanong is the name his mother gave to him because he was born under the morning star. Even though Grandfather isn’t here physically with us anymore, he, like the morning star, will always look after us and lead us in a good way. We, the folks at this small grassroots group called IPSMO, had the honour to meet Grandfather three years ago.  Grandfather was one of our very first supporters for our work trying to learn and act in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.

On March 3, 2009, we had our first big event in the National Library and Archive. We screened the documentary “Invisible Nation – The Story of The Algonquin” and had Grandfather open the event for us. His Granddaughter, Claudette Commanda, was our special guest speaker. Grandfather’s presence was a big reason why close to 500 people showed up, overflowing the auditorium’s seating capacity and requiring the setting up of a second screen in the foyer! It was a big success and we did what we intended to do – creating an opportunity for native and non-native peoples, who’ve been separated by colonial measures like the reserve system, to get to know each other.

Six months later, Grandfather surprised us by coming to another big event we held – The Epidemic of Continuing Violence Against Indigenous Women, to raise fund for Maisy Odjick’s family. Maisy and her friend Shannon Alexander, both from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, went missing on Sept 6, 2008.

And at the beginning of this year he was active in supporting the efforts to protect the Beaver Pond Forest and South March Highlands in Kanata.

Grandfather has inspired us and many others. He taught us about forgiveness. It was hard to understand at first how he could forgive after so many years of colonization by the white settlers. But now, we understand: it is only through forgiveness, the white settlers / colonizers can have a way out of white guilt for what they have done to Native peoples.  It is only through forgiveness, the white settlers can have the chance to transcend their guilt and start their decolonization process, and the Natives can get a possibility for co-existence.

Please read here for more: and for a tribute from Organizing For Justice, including links to many media articles:

Photo Credit: Mark Barber

Jack Layton, another respectful man, passed away on the morning of August 22.  We did not know him well, to be honest. But, at our recent direct action to support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in front of the Minister of Indian Affairís office on a cold December day, he surprised us by showing up and speaking to the crowd in support of Barriere Lake’s inherent right to self-determination and customary governance. We thank him and respect him for his support for Indigenous rights and other social justice issues. RIP Jack.

To continue the legacy of these two great men and countless others, please continue supporting our solidarity work.  Here is how:


The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been forced into a costly legal battle with Canada to protect their land rights. They cannot succeed without your support.

Please donate! You can either make checks out to “Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa” with “Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund” in the memo line, or through PayPal –  Everything counts. Please give what you can.

For details on Barriere Lakeís legal battle and where to mail your cheque, please go to our previous post:

In solidarity,

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa
On Unceded and Unsurrendered Algonquin Territory


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The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been forced into a costly legal battle with Canada to protect their land rights.

They cannot succeed without your support.

The community has been fighting for years to ensure Canada and Quebec honour the Trilateral Agreement, a landmark resource co-management agreement signed in 1991.

The governments are determined to quash the agreement and are now trying to seize sensitive community documents supporting the fight for the Trilateral Agreement. These documents include research on traditional land use & occupancy, wildlife habitat studies, and land claims research.

Barriere Lake is being forced to take costly legal action to protect themselves against the actions of the Canadian government, and its proxy, an illegitimate band council that doesn’t represent the community. The band council was put in place last summer by INAC with only a dozen nominations; most community members boycotted the process, defending their customary government system.

Monthly legal costs that the Algonquins of Barriere Lake must incur will rise into the tens of thousands of dollars by the end of the year, amounting to approximately $30,000 by December 2011. The community’s next legal bill – due at the end of August – will total over $6,000 alone.

If the community loses their case to keep possession of the Trilateral documents, they will launch a constitutional challenge against Canada and the imposition of SECTION 74 of the INDIAN ACT. Section 74 allows the Minister of Indian Affairs to impose band council elections on a customary government, which is a violation of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, protected in Section 35 of the Constitution. This legal challenge will cost more than $100,000 dollars over time.

To read about the 3 MAJOR CONSEQUENCES to this legal case, please see our website:

You can also find a PayPal link on our website for direct financial donations to the community:   Everything counts. Please give what you can.

Checks can be mailed to:

631 King Edward Ave. (3rd floor / 3ieme étage)
Ottawa, ON
K1N 7N8

** Please make checks out to “Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa”  with “Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund” in the memo line **

For more information on Section 74 or to find out how you can reach the community directly for support, please contact at or

For a good background video on Section 74 and the Barriere Lake struggle, please see this short 3-minute film:



Barriere Lake Solidarity has produced this video to help bring attention to the current struggle by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) against the Canadian Government’s imposition of Section 74 of the Indian Act. By enacting this obscure piece of the Act, the Canadian Government is attempting to take control of the community by imposing band council elections on the community. The ABL have always had their own customary government.

For more information, visit:


Les Algonquins de Lac Barrière ont été entraînés de force dans une bataille juridique avec le gouvernement du Canada pour protéger leurs droits territoriaux.

Ils n’y parviendront pas san votre appui.

La communauté se bat depuis des années pour s’assurer que le Canada et le Québec honorent l’entente trilatérale, plan de gestion intégrée des ressources signée en 1991.

Les gouvernements sont déterminés à faire annuler l’accord et tentent maintenant de saisir des documents névralgiques de la communauté appuyant leur lutte en faveur de l’accord trilatéral. Ces documents comprennent de la recherche sur l’utilisation et l’occupation traditionnelle du territoire, des études sur l’habitat faunique et de la recherche en lien avec leurs revendications territoriales.

Lac Barrière est forcé de prendre des couteuses mesures judiciaires pour se protéger des actions du gouvernement Canadien et ses représentants, un conseil de bande illégitime qui ne représente pas la communauté. Le conseil de bande a été mis en place l’été dernier par AINC avec à peine une douzaine de nominations; la plupart des membres de la communauté ont boycotté le processus, défendant leur système de gouvernance traditionnel.

Les frais juridiques qu’encourent mensuellement les Algonquins de Lac Barrière totaliseront des dizaines de milliers de dollars à la fin de l’année, soit approximativement 30 000 $ en Décembre 2011. La prochaine facture de frais juridiques de la communauté, dues à la fin d’aout, coutera plus de 6000 $ à elle seule.

Si la communauté perd le droit de garder en sa possession les documents de l’entente trilatéreale, elle lancera une contestation constitutionnelle contre le Canada et l’imposition de l’article 74 de la Loi sur les Indiens. L’article 74 permet au Ministre des Affaires Autochtones d’imposer un Conseil de bande plutôt qu’un gouvernement traditionnel, ce qui est une violation des Droits et Traités Autochtones, protégés à l’article 35 de la Constitution. Cette contestation judiciaire couteras plus de 100 000 $ dollars à long terme.

Pour en savoir davantage sur les 3 CONSÉQUENCES MAJEURS de cette affaire, veuillez visiter notre site web : [Anglais seulement pour l’instant]

Vous trouverez également un lien PayPal sur notre site pour faire une contribution financière directement à la communauté: montant compte. SVP. Donnez ce que vous pouvez.

Les chèques peuvent etre postés à :
631 King Edward Ave. (3e Étage)
Ottawa, ON
K1N 7N8

** SVP libeller les chèques au nom de “Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa
et inscrire “Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund” au bas du chèque **

Pour plus d’informations sur l’article 74 ou pour savoir comment joindre la communauté pour l’appuyer directement, svp contactez nous. Pour une introduction sur l’article 74 et la lutte de Lac Barrière, veuillez visionner cette courte vidéo de 3 minutes :