Barriere Lake Algonquin affirm opposition to mine during Montreal company meeting: threat of mining on their land exposes failure of Quebec’s Mining Act

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, May 20, 2011

Barriere Lake Algonquin affirm opposition to mine during Montreal company meeting: threat of mining on their land exposes failure of Quebec’s Mining Act

Montreal /– Today, community members from the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake traveled to Montreal to attend the annual general meeting of Val-D’Or-based Cartier Resources Inc., where they affirmed that the overwhelming majority of their First Nation is opposed to the company’s Rivière Doré copper mining project moving forward on their traditional territory. A solidarity demonstration will happen outside of the shareholders meeting at 11:30 am at Dorchester Square, the corner of Peel and Rene-Levesque.

“The Charest government’s planned amendments to Quebec’s Mining Act do nothing to address the basic human rights violation at its core: the fact that no communities, including First Nations, have the right to give their free, prior and informed consent to a mining project,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson for Barriere Lake.

The right to free, prior and informed consent to any development is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been endorsed by the Canadian government.

In March, Barriere Lake community members discovered copper exploration activities on their traditional territory, south-east of Val D’Or, Quebec. The land has never been ceded by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, who hold constitutionally-protected Aboriginal title and rights at the site of the potential mine.

The land is also already covered by an agreement signed between Quebec and Canada and the First Nation in 1991. This Trilateral Agreement – a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometres of Barriere Lake’s traditional territory – has been praised by the United Nations, but both Quebec and Canada have refused to implement it.

The Elders Council of Barriere Lake issued a letter to the Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife on May 2 declaring that the community will not allow any resource extraction like mining on their traditional territory until the Trilateral Agreement is implemented.

“Charest’s claim that the Mining Act amendments fit the ‘principles of sustainable development’ is totally hollow,” said Matchewan.”If the Quebec government were concerned about sustainable development, they would not allow a mining company to explore and open a mine against the wishes of a community, to engage in activities that will have negative impacts on the land, water, animals and plants that we depend on. We will not allow this mine to be built.”

The mineral exploration activities have currently stopped, after community members went to the potential mine site to request that the workers leave. The workers respected the community’s wishes.

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Media contacts:

Norm Matchewan, community spokesperson: 514-578-7109

For more information: www.barrierelakesolidarity.org

barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

POUR PUBLICATION IMMÉDIATE

Vendredi le 20 mai 2011

La communauté algonquine du Lac Barrière s’oppose à un projet minier lors d’une réunion de cette compagnie à Montréal : la menace minière sur leurs terres expose l’échec de la Loi sur les mines québécoise.

Montréal/ – Aujourd’hui, des membres de la communauté autochtone algonquine du Lac Barrière se déplacent à Montréal afin de prendre part à l’assemblée générale annuelle de Cartier Resources Inc., où ils veulent exprimer l’opposition, par la grande majorité de leur communauté, au projet Rivière Doré, projet d’exploration puis d’exploitation possible de cuivre, sur leur territoire ancestral. Une manifestation de solidarité aura lieu au Carré Dorchester, au coin de Peel et René-Lévesque pendant la réunion des actionnaires de Cartier Resources Inc.

« Le gouvernement Charest planifie des amendements à la Loi sur les mines qui ne changeront en rien la violation des droits humains de base au cœur de cette loi : le fait qu’aucune communauté, incluant les Premières Nations, n’ait le droit de donner leur libre consentement préalable et éclairé à un projet» dit Norman Matchewan, a porte-parole de la communauté du Lac Barrière.

Le droit du libre consentement préalable et éclairé à tout projet de développement est au cœur de la Déclaration des Nations Unies sur les droits des peuples autochtones, qui a été avalisée par le gouvernement du Canada.

En mars, les membres de la communauté du Lac Barrière se sont rendus compte que des activités d’exploration de cuivre avaient lieu sur leur territoire ancestral, au sud-est de Val D’Or. Cette terre n’a jamais été cédée par les Algonquins du Lac Barrière, qui possèdent le titre aborigène, protégé par la Constitution, du site minier potentiel.

Cette terre fait aussi l’objet d’une entente tripartite signée par la communauté et les gouvernements du Québec et du Canada en 1991. Cette Entente trilatérale – un plan de développement durable couvrant les 10 000 km carrés du territoire ancestral du Lac Barrière – a été louangée par les Nations Unies. Toutefois, tant les gouvernements canadien que québécois ont refusé de la mettre en application.

Le conseil des Aînés du Lac Barrières ont écrit une lettre au Ministre des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec le 2 mai déclarant que la communauté n’autoriserait aucune exploitation de ressources telle qu’un projet minier sur leur territoire ancestral tant et aussi longtemps que l’Entente trilatérale ne sera pas mise en application.

« L’affirmation de Charest, selon laquelle les amendements à la Loi sur les minutes suivent les ‘principes du développement durable’ est complètement fausse, » dit Matchewan. « Si le gouvernement du Québec était préoccupé par le développement durable, il ne permettrait pas à une compagnie minière d’explorer et d’ouvrir une mine contre la volonté d’une communauté, de se livrer à des activités qui auront un impact négatif sur la terre, l’eau, les animaux et les plantes dont nous dépendons. Nous ne permettrons pas la construction de cette mine. »

Les activités d’exploration minière sont présentement suspendues : les membres de la communauté ont demandé aux employés de quitter le site minier potentiel. Ceux-ci ont respecté la volonté de la communauté.

La manifestation de solidarité se rendra aussi en bas des bureaux de Windermere Capital et de la Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, deux investisseurs importants de Cartier Resources Inc, afin d’encourager le désinvestissement du projet minier.

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Contact pour les médias:

Norm Matchewan, porte-parole de la communauté: 514-578-7109

www.barrierelakesolidarity.org

barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

SOLIDARITY UPDATE ON THE ALGONQUINS OF BARRIERE LAKE

Dear friends and supporters of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake,

Since the great outpouring of support at the Ottawa demonstration in December (http://bit.ly/f7abMo) against the imposition of the Indian Act on their community, a great many of things have transpired on Barriere Lake’s territory. Stronger than ever, the community is ready to fight back and needs your help.

Please read the update posted below and stay tuned for ways to get involved. Contained herein are:

1. MINING ALERT ON ALGONQUIN TERRITORY
2. REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INDIAN ACT BAND COUNCIL
3. REPORT ON SECTION 74 LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN

In sol,
Barriere Lake Solidarity
http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/
https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=30975284378&ref=ts

1. MINING ALERT ON ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

Barriere Lake Algonquins say “No” to mining exploration on their land, Cree workers agree to leave site

RAPID LAKE, QC – Last week, Barriere Lake community members discovered that Val D’ Or based Cartier Resources has begun line-cutting in preparation for mining exploration on their unceded Ab- original lands. According to their website, the mining company claims that their “100% owned” land base of 439 square kilometers boasts rich copper deposits ripe for exploitation.

The so-called “Rivière Doré Project” was undertaken without obtaining the community’s free, prior, and informed consent – the minimum standards set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), which Canada has endorsed in words but not in action. The mining project also violates the community’s own environmental protection regime, the Trilateral Agreement, which was signed in 1991 by Barriere Lake, Quebec, and Canada and has yet to be honoured.

The workers on site, predominantly Crees from the Mistassini and Oujebougamou First Nations, agreed to leave when the Algonquins traveled to the proposed mine location and explained their opposition to the development. The larger battle with the Cartier Resources, however, looms ahead.

Barriere Lake community members will return to maintain a presence at the proposed mining site and stop all further developments. Please stay tuned for further developments and action call-outs.

2. REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INDIAN ACT BAND COUNCIL

The community remains largely in the dark concerning the activities of the band council. Illegitimate in the eyes of most people in the community, this band council rose to power through the imposition of an Indian Act provision (Section 74) that gives the Minister of Indian Affairs discretion to overthrow Indigenous customary government systems.

One thing is clear, though: Barriere Lake is open for business now. Mining companies, logging companies, and costly Hydro electrification and reserve housing development have all been green-lighted by the band council.

While investments in reserve infrastructure are badly needed, they are coming at the price of burying the larger issue of land management of the whole territory.

3. REPORT ON SECTION 74 LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN
BARRIERE LAKE SOLIDARITY FORENSIC DECODER OF THE GOVERNMENT’S OFFICIAL STORY

Hundreds of letters have been sent through the Barriere Lake Solidarity website to Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan in protest of the forced imposition of Section 74 on the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (see http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org/2008/03/donations.html). The Department has recently sent out replies to these letters which are telling of Canada’s communications strategy to contain the threat of public awareness on the issue.

Responding to these letters is Pierre Nepton, the Director General of the Quebec Region of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Nepton outlines the “official” story in his response letter: INAC had no choice but to reluctantly impose Section 74 due to internal conflicts over governance, which the community failed to resolve themselves.

But it’s cool. Barriere Lake Solidarity has prepared a forensic decoder of the government’s official story. We’ve drawn up a chart for easy comparison.