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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 :


Harper Targeted First Nations for Increased Surveillance

Harper targeted First Nations for increased surveillance, fears Native “unrest,”
newly released government documents show

Money for housing on reserves slashed, money for surveillance of Natives increased

For immediate release: June 13, 2011

Newly exposed internal documents from Indian Affairs and the RCMP show that shortly after forming government in January of 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the federal government step up intelligence gathering on First Nations to anticipate and manage First Nations political action across Canada.

Information obtained by the First Nations Strategic Bulletin through Access to Information requests reveals that almost immediately upon Harper’s taking power in 2006, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was given the lead role to spy on First Nations. The goal was to identify the First Nation leaders, participants and outside supporters of First Nation occupations and protests, and to closely monitor their actions.

To accomplish this task, INAC established a “Hot Spot Reporting System.” These weekly reports highlight all those communities across the country that engage in direct action to protect their lands and communities. They include Tsartlip First Nation, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Six Nations, Grassy Narrows, the Likhts’amsiyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and many more.

“Rather than listening to the needs of First Nations communities Harper is making plans to use force to stifle the dissent that inevitably arises from chronic poverty and dispossession in Native communities,” said Russell Diabo, Mohawk policy analyst, in response. “First Nations education and housing is chronically under-funded, but policing and surveillance of legitimate Indigenous movements is always a priority.”

The documents reveal that First Nations are a closely monitored population who are causing a panic at the highest levels of the Canadian government.

Says Gord Elliot of Tsartlip First Nation, “Obviously trust and good faith are expected when working with INAC, the RCMP and other agencies of the Government. We are outraged to discover these same Ministries are spying on us. We were identified as a ‘hotspot’ because we had a roadblock demonstration to voice our concerns about the Treaty process and non-acknowledgment of Section 35 Constitutional Rights and Title.
We felt we had no choice because the Canadian Government won’t acknowledge our Constitutionally protected Aboriginal Rights and Title.”

For more information and to obtain original documents, contact:
Shiri Pasternak, media spokesperson: 647-227-6696

Media Spokespeople:

Russell Diabo, editor and publisher, First Nations Strategic Bulletin: 613-296-0110
Gord Elliot, Councillor, Tsartlip First Nation: 250-883-3970
Shawn Brant, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory: 613- 813-2057

– 30 –

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.



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


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:

French version of this release (.doc):

For Joseph Boyden’s op-ed in the Globe and Mail:



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

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.

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

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:

Press release: Barriere Lake governance


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.

– 30 –

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