BARRIERE LAKE ALGONQUIN ACQUITTED FOR BLOCKADE CHARGES: FORESTRY COMPANY CAUGHT LYING ON THE STAND

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BARRIERE LAKE ALGONQUIN ACQUITTED FOR BLOCKADE CHARGES: FORESTRY COMPANY CAUGHT LYING ON THE STAND

Norman Matchewan at Barriere Lake Day of Action on Dec. 13, 2010 in Ottawa. Photo Credit: Dru Oja Jay

VAL D’Or, QC – On June 5 2012, Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for the First Nation of Mitchikanibiko’inik (the Algonquins of Barriere Lake), was acquitted on what community members alleged all along were politically motivated charges. Matchewan was acquitted of mischief and obstruction of justice stemming from a 2009 blockade protecting his people’s territory from illegal logging.

Matchewan was defending the forest from logging that had been unlawfully authorized by Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The logging was also a violation of a 1991 resource co-management agreement signed in 1991 between Barriere Lake, Quebec and Canada.

“Too many native peoples are criminalized for defending their land,” said Matchewan following the acquittal, “Today is a big victory for our community. We will not be intimidated by trumped up legal charges and court battles. We will always protect our land and custom for our future generations.”

Yves Paquette of AbitibiBowater, the forestry company behind the cutting, incriminated himself by repeatedly lying during his cross-examination. Paquette claimed that he encountered no police on the site and was not able to enter the site because the logging road was entirely blocked by the cars of the Barriere Lake community members. However, after seeing video evidence that refuted the latter claim, Paquette also admitted to speaking to two intelligence officers from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

Vincent Larin, of the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources, admitted on the stand that logging permits were issued without any consultation by his Ministry of the family groups whose territories were being logged. Moreover, after first claiming that the cutting permits could not be altered once they were electronically signed and entered in the Ministry’s computer system, he presented the Court with a cutting permit that was substantially different than the version that had been disclosed to the defense.

“They got caught in their own lies,” said Matchewan following the trial. “The Crown’s case, in the end, was so weak that we were not even required to present a defense,” said Jared Will, the lawyer representing Matchewan at trial.

Last year, the community of Barriere Lake discovered a copper and nickel exploration project at the heart of the hunting and fishing area of several Barriere Lake families. The mineral claims, named the Rivière Doré property by Cartier Resources, were recently sold to Copper One Inc., based in Montreal. Neither the Quebec government, nor Cartier Resources had met their obligations to obtain the consent of the community before beginning work on the site.

Matchewan was a key voice in the community’s successful struggle to stop the exploration activity by Cartier Resources. Soon after he became active in the anti-mining campaign, he was issued a summons to appear in court for the logging blockade that occurred over two years earlier.

For more information, please contact: Norman Matchewan, (819) 435-2171 or his lawyer, Jared Will, (416) 835 2075.

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POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE 

UN ALGONQUIN DU LAC BARRIÈRE ACQUITTÉ DES ACCUSATIONS PORTÉES CONTRE LUI SUITE À UNE BARRICADE : LA COMPAGNIE FORESTIÈRE MENT À LA BARRE

Norman Matchewan at Barriere Lake Day of Action on Dec. 13, 2010 in Ottawa. Photo Credit: Mike Barber

Val d’Or, QC – Le 5 juin 2012, Norman Matchewan, porte-parole des jeunes de la Première Nation de Mitchikanibiko’inik (Algonquins du Lac Barrière), a été acquitté d’accusations qualifiées de motivées politiquement par des membres de la communauté. Matchewan a été acquitté de méfaits et d’entrave à la justice suite à une barricade protégeant le territoire de son peuple contre des coupes forestières illégales.

Matchewan défendait la forêt contre des coupes forestières illégalement autorisées par le Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec. Les coupes étaient aussi en violation d’un accord de co-gestion des ressources signé en 1991 entre la communauté du Lac Barrière, Québec et Ottawa.

« Trop de Premières Nations sont criminalisés pour avoir défendu leurs terres », a dit Matchewan suite au verdict d’acquittement. « Aujourd’hui est une grande victoire pour notre communauté. Nous ne nous laisserons pas intimider par des accusations légales falsifiées et des batailles juridiques. Nous protègerons notre terre et nos coutumes pour nos prochaines générations. »

Yves Paquette d’AbitibiBowater, la compagnie forestière derrière les coupes, s’est incriminé en mentant à plusieurs reprises pendant son contre-interrogatoire. Paquette soutenait qu’il n’avait rencontré aucun policier sur le site et qu’il n’avait pu y accéder parce que le chemin forestier était entièrement bloqué par les voitures des membres de la communauté du Lac Barrière. Toutefois, après avoir visionné une preuve vidéo qui démentait ses propos, Paquette a aussi admis avoir parlé à deux agents de renseignements de la Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

Vincent Larin, du Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, a admis, alors qu’il était à la barre des témoins, que les permis de coupes ont été émis sans aucune consultation de la part du ministère avec les familles dont les territoires étaient soumis aux coupes forestières. De plus, après avoir soutenu que les permis de coupes ne pouvaient être modifiés suite à leurs signatures électroniques et entrés dans le système informatique du Ministère, il a présenté à la Cour un permis de coupes substantiellement différent de la version qui avait été fournie à la défense.

« Ils se sont perdus dans leurs propres mensonges, » a dit Matchewan suite au procès. « Le dossier de la Couronne, à la fin, était si faible que nous n’avons pas eu à présenter de défense, » a dit Jared Will, l’avocat représentant Marchewan.

L’année dernière, la communauté du Lac Barrière a découvert un projet d’exploration de cuivre et de nickel au cœur de l’aire de chasse et de pêche de plusieurs familles du Lac Barrière. Les claims minéraux, nommées la Rivière Doré, propriété de Cartier Ressources, ont récemment été vendus à Copper One Inc., basé à Montréal. Ni le gouvernement du Québec ni Cartier Ressources n’ont respecté leurs obligations d’obtenir le consentement de la communauté avant de commencer à travailler sur le site.

Matchewan était une voix importante de la lutte, couronnée de succès, de la communauté contre les activités d’exploration de Cartier Ressources. Peu après sa participation active à la campagne contre l’exploitation minière, il a reçu plusieurs sommations, c’est-à-dire des ordres de comparaître en cour, en lien avec une barricade à laquelle il avait participé il y a plus de deux ans.

Pour plus d’information, veuillez contacter Norman Matchewan au 819-435-2171 ou son avocat, Jared Will, au 416-835-2075.

July 9: Grassy Narrows Youth Leader Speaks Out

Chrissy Swain will speak and will be presenting a new documentary
Thursday, July 9
Umi Café at 6pm
610 Somerset St. W
ipsmo@riseup.net
https://ipsmo.wordpress.com

Chrissy Swain, a Grassy Narrows youth leader and mother will be speaking about the ongoing struggles for healing and land protection at Grassy Narrows. Chrissy will also present a new documentary about the history of the conflict there.

She is speaking out in order to draw attention to links between environmental destruction and the destruction of communities, to open dialogue about protecting and healing the earth, as well as healing communities and the relationships between them.

Since arriving in Southern Ontario last week, Chrissy Swain has already visited the Anishnabe protest camp at Dump Site 41 in Tiny Township, had a presence at the rally in solidarity with Six Nations against the formation of the Caledonia Militia in Cayuga, participated in the Peace Caravan to Akwesasne, and spoke on stage in front of over 1000 music fans at the Propaghandi concert on June 26 in Toronto.

Last year, Chrissy led a group of 22 youth from Grassy Narrows (and a few other First Nations communities), on the Protecting Our Mother Walk—over 1800 kilometres from Grassy Narrows to Toronto—which became a catalyst for the Gathering of Mother Earth Protectors and Sovereignty Sleepover last May at Queens Park, where the message was:

*Respect the right of First Nations to say no to economic exploitation and environmental destruction, no criminalisation of land protectors.*

* *

This year, Chrissy is planning another walk which is scheduled to leave from Grassy Narrows for Ottawa on August 24th.  This year’s walk will bring together representatives from communities across the province to deliver a united message to Ottawa that the rights of First Nations must be honoured and land protectors must not be criminalised.

Chrissy has been an integral leader in the Grassy Narrows resistance to logging on their territory, in the empowerment of youth, and the traditional resurgence of Anishnabe culture that is taking place in their community.

On December 2nd, 2002, the youth of the Grassy Narrows First Nation established a blockade on a logging road in their territory, and sparked what is now the longest standing and highest profile indigenous logging blockade in Canadian history. Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) is a small Anishnabe community about 80 kilometres north of Kenora in Northwest Ontario. *The Grassy Narrows community has been through many traumas including relocation, residential schools, mercury contamination, flooding of sacred grounds and burial sites, and clearcut logging of their traditional territory. However, resistance is strong at Grassy Narrows where people are actively resisting the continued destruction of their territories, re-occupying their lands, reviving their culture and fighting for the right to manage their land as they see fit. ***

This tour, for Chrissy is a spiritual journey inspired by dreams and recent incidents. Chrissy and Grassy Narrows organizer Judy Dasilva visited the site of the Macintosh Residential School near Kenora. There, behind the old school site, instead of a memorial, they found several large hydro towers right at the site of the graves of those children who died at the school, disrespecting their memory.  Following the visit, Chrissy had dreams telling her that this was to be a symbol of the connection between the destruction of Indigenous lands, and the destruction of their communities. She began planning a second Protecting Our Mother Earth Walk that had been tentatively scheduled to leave Grassy Narrows on June 15.

The recent and ongoing standoff at Akwesasne is a spiritual sign to her that the time for the journey is imminent. The events of Friday June 12 (when the OPP brutally raided a solidarity blockade in Tyendinaga, and also escalated the police crackdown on protests by women from the Beausoleil First Nation who are camped at Dump Site 41) were a signal to Chrissy to forgo the walk across Northern Ontario so that she could be here now, talking to people in both settler and Indigenous communities, trying to build solidarity and support for communities engaged in land protection struggles, and to work towards healing.

“The government does not understand that words are not good enough. Talking ‘green’ and making empty apologies that don’t actually deal with real issues is not good enough. We have to *protect* the land—protect our Mother Earth. I want to tell Harper that apologies are not good enough. Canada needs to give proper respect to the victims, families and survivors of the residential schools. We need Canada to recognize the damage those schools have done to our communities and cultures, and we need an end to the destruction of our lands, and an end to native people being criminalised when they stand up for their rights to protect their lands, their cultures, and their communities.”
-Chrissy Swain, June 2009

Upcoming Events:

  • London, July 4*.  Empowerment Infoshop, 636 Queens Ave, 6-9pm. pbd.
  • Hamilton, July 7*.  Sky Dragon Centre, 27 King William St, 6-9pm. pbd.
  • Ottawa, July 9*.  Umi Cafe, 610 Somerset St W, 6-9pm.
  • Brockville, July 10*. St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 37 Victoria Ave, 7-9pm.