Ottawa Fundraising Dinner, Tues Nov 8- Algonquins of Barriere Lake Land Defenders

No Mining In Our Territory – Ottawa Fundraising Dinner
Algonquins of Barriere Lake Land Defenders Camp

Please join us this Tuesday to gather together for a dinner and opportunity to hear from Barriere Lake community members about their new efforts to prevent mining in their territory, and how you can support these efforts.

In late October, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake set up a camp to defend their territory from new threats of the various companies that have mining claims there. The Quebec government has recently begun unilaterally lifting multi-year moratoriums on mining in the area, despite this being against the Trilateral and Bilateral Agreements of the 1990s.
More info: http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/
http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/blog/Blogentry/mining-without-consent-of-the-algonquins-of-b/blog/57914/

Tuesday, November 8th 2016
5pm – 7pm  (come as you can, even if not right at 5pm)
at St. John’s Church, 154 Somerset St W. (corner of Elgin)
– Basement hall: entrance off of Somerset, wheelchair accessible entrance ramp off of Elgin.

Due to too short notice, we have not arranged ASL sign language interpretation. Please contact us with any other questions about accessibility or otherwise: indigsol@riseup.net

Planned food includes wild game and/or fish from ABL territory, with vegetarian chili, quinoa, and salad generously provided by the Table Restaurant.

All levels of donations accepted – to go to maintaining the camp and for gas for travel monitoring the various areas of the territory where drilling/mining companies may start work. By cash or cheque. Donations are also accepted via paypal.

This event has been very quickly organized so we need your help to please get the word out and encourage your fam/friends/comrades/networks to show up. The land defenders camp has just been started within the last two weeks, and this fundraising dinner is timed to coincide with the “Joining Our Fires: Women for the Protection of Lands and Waters” rally happening directly afterwards at 7pm, at the Human Rights Monument (Elgin at Lisgar: 3 blocks from our venue).

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

 

WIN! Resistance by Barriere Lake and supporters results in Quebec concession over logging

Thanks to the resistance and determination of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the thousand people who sent online letters and the 200 who joined last week’s powerful Montreal demonstration outside the offices of Resolute Forest Products and Premier Jean Charest, the Quebec government and forestry company have been forced to make a significant concession. They have agreed to respect an aspect of the Trilateral agreement by harmonizing logging with Barriere Lake’s use of their lands, which is an important step forward in the community’s struggle to protect their land rights and the environment.

After the protest in Montreal a week and a half ago, and after a number of successful stoppages of the forestry operations by Algonquins camped out for two weeks, the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources sat down for negotiations with community representatives. What was agreed to is a precarious but important step in the community’s long struggle to pressure the Quebec and Canadian governments to honour their landmark Trilateral Agreement.

The logging that had been happening on Barriere Lake’s land was illegal because Quebec has refused to implement the Trilateral Agreement, without which no forestry operations should be happening. The agreement is intended to create a sustainable model of forestry in which Barriere Lake jointly manages 10,000 square kilometres of their traditional territory with the province. The agreement is a model for First Nations fighting to protect their land rights.

Forest Resolute Products had refused to respect a process of consultation and accommodation that is part of the Trilateral Agreement – called “measures to harmonize.” Forestry companies who want to operate on Barriere Lake’s land must not compromise the way that the Algonquins’ use the land – meaning logging is not allowed to
happen where the community has hunting cabins, in areas of moose and bear habitat, sacred areas, medicinal sites and many other areas of concern to the community.

Because of community’s direct action and public pressure, the Quebec government and Resolute Forest Products have now agreed to comply by the “measures to harmonize”!

NEXT STEPS

Barriere Lake needs its supporters to remain vigilant to ensure Resolute Forest Products respects the “measures to harmonize.”

Even more importantly, we need to continue building pressure on the Quebec and Canadian governments to finally implement the Trilateral and Bilateral Agreements. The Charest government has been so brazen in its disregard for the law and its contempt for Barriere Lake that it has refused to honour the binding outcomes of negotiations conducted by two former Liberal Cabinet Ministers! In 2006, a negotiator for the Quebec, John Ciaccia, and a negotiator for Barriere Lake, Clifford Lincoln, issued the recommendation that the agreement be implemented. Quebec does not want to implement this agreement because it sets precedents in giving Indigenous peoples control over developments on their territories.

MEDIA COVERAGE OF PROTESTS: https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/coverage-abl-logging-protest/

Dec 11: Barriere Lake Human Rights Delegation Report Back

Barriere Lake Human Rights Delegation Report Back

1:30 pm
Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010
PSAC building JK Wylie boardoom, 233 Gilmour (at Metcalfe)

15 delegates from across Ontario and Quebec attended a human rights delegation to the Algonquin Nation of Barriere Lake this August.  In this trip, these delegates visited the Algonquin reserve at Lac Rapid and their traditional territory, 45 minutes north of the reserve.  The purpose of this delegation was for the delegates to learn and understand the history of the struggle of Barriere Lake.  And in return, it was for the community to gain more support for their fight over their self-determination and self-governance.  More than 3 months later, the situation of Barriere Lake has not changed ….

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Mitchikanibikok Inik, is a small yet strong First Nation.  Their 59-acre reserve at Lac Rapid is 4 hours north of Ottawa, in north western Quebec.  Their traditional territory covers the entire area of La Verendrye wildlife reserve. Mitchikanibikok Inik has never surrendered Aboriginal title to its traditional territory.

For those who attended this delegation, this trip was such an inspiring experience; all expressed their gratitude and willingness to support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake for their struggle to protect their land and assert their sovereignty.  One of the delegates, Ramsey Hart of Mining Watch Canada, said:

“Visiting Barrier Lake filled me with a strange combination of hope and anger. The anger from the Canadian and Quebec government’s despicable failure to honour an agreement that is so very reasonable, from seeing a dam creating electricity from flooded Algonquin lands that by-passes the community on its way south while noisy, polluting, expensive diesel generators provide electricity for the community. The hope came from the strength of the traditions, the generosity, the path of healing and the beautiful lands of the Alqonquin. At the end of the day the hope won-out but the anger is still there”

To be in solidarity with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and their continuous demand for Canada to respect their traditional government and trailblazing environmental agreement – the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, we would like to invite you to join 3 of the 15 delegates as they share their experience and reflection from such inspiring trip. They are:

Colin Stuart, Christian Peacemaker Teams
Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians,  Ottawa Peace Assembly
Ramsey Hart, Mining Watch Canada

This event will be facilitated by Pei-Ju, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement – Ottawa.

A DAY OF ACTION to support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake has been planned for Dec. 13.  This event is also our attempt to invite you to learn about the community.  And hopefully, you will also be inspired and decide to stand together with Barriere Lake and us (their supporters) for the day of action!

For more information, please visit www.barrierelakesolidarity.org
To see photos from the delegation, please go to http://bit.ly/hd7Xqz

Background: HOW IS THE GOVERNMENT DESTROYING BARRIERE LAKE’S TRADITIONAL GOVERNMENT? AND WHY?

The government has used an archaic section of the Indian Act – section 74 – to unilaterally impose a different system of government on Barriere Lake.

Barriere Lake’s traditional government – open to community members who have connection to the land, and in which Elders guide potential leaders and safeguard their customs – ensures that community members maintain their sacred bond to the land and their hunting way of life. The band council electoral system the Harper government has imposed destroys the sacred governance bond the community has with the land. By breaking Barriere Lake’s connection to the land, the Canadian and Quebec governments hope to get away with violating trailblazing environmental agreements and with illegally clear-cutting in Barriere Lake’s traditional territory.

The overwhelming majority of community members want to protect their traditional governance system, but the bureaucrats in Indian and Northern Affairs Canada are spreading the misinformation that they are only a small group.

Through the summer, the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada bureaucracy ran an illegal process, imposed by the Quebec police, to bring the new system into the community. Fewer than a dozen ballots were sent in to nominate candidates for an Indian Act Chief and Council, who where then seated by acclamation. Meanwhile, almost 200 community members had signed a resolution rejecting this process! That represents a majority of community members who are eligible to participate in their political process.

Even the acclaimed Chief resigned in protest, refusing to break ranks with the community’s majority. But four rogue band councillors with no community support have been illegally making decisions on behalf of Barriere Lake ever since. Shuttled to secret meetings with forestry companies and government officials, these councilors are being usined by the government to derail Barriere Lake’s precedent-setting environmental agreements and to facilitate illegal clear-cut logging.

Youth in the community are leading the movement to protect their traditional government and to heal and overcome the community divisions created by the internal meddling of government bureaucrats.

They are demanding the Harper Government cancel the imposition on Barriere Lake of the section 74 Indian Act band council system and respect their right to select leaders according to their traditional system of government.

DEC 13, OTTAWA: Day of Action to Support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake

DEMAND THAT CANADA RESPECT BARRIERE LAKE’S TRADITIONAL GOVERNMENT AND TRAILBLAZING ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS

Monday December 13, noon, Parliament Hill

MARCH STARTS AT NOON, PARLIAMENT HILL, ENDS AT THE OFFICE OF THE MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, CONFEDERATION BUILDING (BANK AND WELLINGTON)

Supported by: Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Council of Canadians, KAIROS, the New Democratic Party, Green Party, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Mining Watch, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement-Ottawa, Barriere Lake Solidarity-Toronto, Barriere Lake Solidarity-Montreal

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=168050586559745&num_event_invites=0#!/event.php?eid=168050586559745

For more info and to download flyers: www.barrierelakesolidarity.org

What if a foreign regime was destroying your system of government, so it could then steal your resources and prevent you from environmentally protecting your homeland? This is what the Harper Government and federal bureaucrats are doing to the First Nation of Barriere Lake.

For more than two decades, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been demonstrating environmental leadership to the rest of Canada, campaigning to stop destructive clear-cut logging and to implement a sustainable development plan in their homeland in north-western Quebec.

But multi-national forestry corporations and government bureaucrats have refused to honour any of the agreements signed with Barriere Lake. They have tried at every turn to undermine the small community, one of the poorest in the country, and prevent them from implementing and realizing their vision for the protection and stewardship of the forests.

The David-vs-Goliath story now has a dark new twist: the Conservative government and bureaucrats in Indian and Northern Affairs Canada are interfering in Barriere Lake’s internal affairs, using section 74 of the Indian Act to forcibly assimilate and destroy the community’s traditional government — a traditional government the community has used for countless generations and which maintains their hunting way of life and respect for the environment.

Led by Barriere Lake youth, the overwhelming majority of the community are struggling to preserve their traditional government, so they can continue protecting the watersheds, forests, wildlife and lands for all future generations, Native and non-Native.

The Harper government is violating the Canadian Constitution, which protects the Aboriginal right to self-government. They are violating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, even though they have now endorsed it.

Join the Algonquins of Barriere Lake on Parliament Hill as they demand the Harper government and federal bureaucrats reject the use of section 74 and respect the community’s traditional government and  vision for environmental protection!

Background: How is the Government Destroying Barriere Lake’s Traditional Government? and Why?

The government has used an archaic section of the Indian Act – section 74 – to unilaterally impose a different system of government on Barriere Lake.

Barriere Lake’s traditional government – open to community members who have connection to the land, and in which Elders guide potential leaders and safeguard their customs – ensures that community members maintain their connection to the land and their hunting way of life. The band council electoral system the Harper government has imposed destroys the sacred governance bond the community has with the land. By breaking Barriere Lake’s connection to the land, the Canadian and Quebec governments hope to get away with violating trailblazing environmental agreements and with illegally clear-cutting in Barriere Lake’s traditional territory.

The overwhelming majority of community members want to protect their traditional governance system, but the bureaucrats in Indian and Northern Affairs Canada are spreading the misinformation that they are only a small group.

Through the summer, the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada bureaucracy ran an illegal process, imposed by the Quebec police, to bring the new system into the community. Fewer than a dozen ballots were sent in to nominate candidates for an Indian Act Chief and Council, who where then seated by acclamation. Meanwhile, almost 200 community members had signed a resolution rejecting this process! That represents a majority of community members who are eligible to participate in their political process.

Even the acclaimed Chief resigned in protest, refusing to break ranks with the community’s majority. But four rogue band councillors with no community support have been illegally making decisions on behalf of Barriere Lake ever since. Shuttled to secret meetings with forestry companies and government officials, these councilors are being used by the government to derail Barriere Lake’s precedent-setting environmental agreements and to facilitate illegal clear-cut logging.

Youth in the community are leading the movement to protect their traditional government and to heal and overcome the community divisions created by the internal meddling of government bureaucrats.

They are demanding the Harper Government cancel the imposition on Barriere Lake of the section 74 Indian Act band council system and respect their right to select leaders according to their traditional system of government.

Barriere Lake Algonquins protest Conservative government’s assimilation of their traditional political governance system: Political parties, major unions, Indigenous groups call for respect for community’s Inherent rights

OTTAWA, traditional Algonquin territory, June 15 /CNW Telbec/ – A broad network of political parties, unions, human rights and Indigenous organizations are rallying today with the Barriere Lake Algonquins in Ottawa at 11:30 am, in front of Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl’s office at Bank and Wellington, demanding that the Government of Canada stop attempting to assimilate the community’s traditional political governance system.

Barriere Lake is one of the few First Nations in the country that have never been under the Indian Act’s electoral system, continuing to operate under a traditional political governance system that is connected to their use of the land. Despite there being a broad community consensus opposing Indian Act elections, Indian Affairs has announced they will try to impose them on August 19, 2010.

“Community members refuse to accept this unilateral and draconian attempt to wipe out the way we govern ourselves. The government is attacking our governance system because it is intimately tied to our continuing use and protection of the land. We will defend our rights and customs for the sake of our generation and the generations to come,” says Tony Wawatie, a Barriere Lake community spokesperson.

“The federal government has consistently tried to violate agreements and interfere with the internal affairs of this First Nation, all in an effort to access the natural resources of their traditional territory. Obviously, they hope to weaken this community to the point where the logging companies can take over. It is shameful,” says Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Canada and Quebec are refusing to implement binding agreements dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the Agreement since 2001. Quebec is violating the agreement by refusing to implement the 2006 joint recommendations of two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln. The 2006 recommendations include giving Barriere Lake a $1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out of their territory annually, and forest plans to harmonize logging operations with the Algonquin’s land use. Quebec has just issued cutting permits to logging companies in Barriere Lake’s traditional territory, while refusing to respect the terms of the Trilateral Agreement.

“We’re joining the community in demanding that the Harper government respect the inherent right of First Nations to self-determination and customary self-government,” says Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Representatives from the New Democratic Party and the Indigenous Environmental Network will be attending, and the demonstration is endorsed by KAIROS, Polaris, and the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement of Ottawa.

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat has also issued a press release supporting the community.

For further information: Media contacts: Norman Matchewan, community spokesperson: 514-893-8283; Tony Wawatie, community spokesperson: 819-860-4121

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