August Schellenberg is in town, during the month of May, for a lead role in the NAC production, King Lear, by William Shakespeare. On May 21, his day off, he will join us at the Cube Gallery as a featured guest, to help raise awareness (and funds) for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake. He is well known for his film roles in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; Dreamkeeper; Black Robe; and Free Willy, etc. Other cast members of the play, including Tantoo Cardinal, might join us as well!
Come and enjoy refreshments, screenings of choice film scenes of August Schellenberg’s, his life stories, a Q & A, and more!
We acknowledge the generous contribution of Cube Gallery.
Come share a meal and help support the long-standing resistance of Mitchikanibikok Inik, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, to forced assimilation and extinction. This event is a fundraiser to help cover the community’s legal costs incurred in a costly court battle they’ve been forced into by the Canadian government.
Michel Thusky, a spokesperson from the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, will talk about community identity in the context of his people’s struggle to defend their land, their way of life, and their traditional governance system against attacks by the colonial governments of Quebec and Canada.
Please bring either a dish to share, or a suggested minimum donation of $5 to 20 to ensure the costs of this event are covered. Some extra food will be prepared to make sure there is enough to feed everyone.
Special guests: Ed Bianchi, Kristen Gilchrist, Bridget Tolley, Tillis Wawatie Keye and Marcelo Saavedra-Vargas!
Come and learn about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Mitchikanibikok Inik (the Algonquins of Barriere Lake) and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada. As a part of the discussions, we will do a powerful exercise that explores the experience and impacts of colonization – the BLANKET exercise.
In the 2nd part of the workshop, we will collectively make banners to express our solidarity with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and Indigenous Women in this country. These banners are a way to urge Canada to get to work on implementing this historic international agreement – UNDRIP – the minimum standard for the governments to fulfill their obligations for the right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination. These banners will then join other banners from across the country in a demonstration and march on June 20 Day of Action organized by KARIOS.
** We will ask for donations to cover the costs of materials for this event.
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.
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.
Indian Affairs imposes new Chief and Council on Barriere Lake with the consent of only a half dozen people: “This looks like tyranny,” say community spokespeople
Kitiganik, Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / – Despite overwhelming community opposition, the Department of Indian Affairs has announced that a new Indian Act Chief and Council have been elected by acclamation in Barriere Lake, after between 6 and 10 nomination mail-in ballots were received by a government electoral officer.
But even the acclaimed Chief, Casey Ratt, has announced he will not take the the position, refusing to break ranks with the community’s broad opposition to the Indian Act band elections that the Department of Indian Affairs has been trying to impose on Barriere Lake.
“The overwhelming majority of our community remains opposed to the Indian Act band election regime. Almost two hundred people signed a resolution in May rejecting it and supporting our traditional selection process. Does the Minister of Indian Affairs really think that the consent of a handful of people can let them get away with eradicating our system of government?” says Tony Wawatie, a community spokesperson. “The government has lectured us about democracy. But how can this be democratic if it goes against the will of our entire community? This looks more like tyranny.”
On Friday the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo sent a letter to Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan demanding that he rescind the section 74 order to impose band elections, and that he respect the community’s reconciliation process, which will ultimately result in a new Customary Chief and Council being selected according to Barriere Lake’s traditional selection process.
“I strongly urge you to reconsider the decision of your predecessor to invoke section 74,” Atleo wrote. “Trying to force the community into the Indian Act election system, when they seem to be overwhelmingly opposed, will only increase tensions and the risk of confrontation with your Ministry.”
“The decision to impose section 74 band elections is an attack not only on our traditional system of government, but on our culture, language and way of life, which are all connected to our traditional system of government,” says Marylynn Poucachiche, another community spokesperson. “We will not accept it. Until our basic and legitimate rights are respected, we will escalate our actions, including not allowing any resource extraction within the Trilateral Agreement Territory.”
The government had announced the elections would originally take place September 23rd, 2010.
Barriere Lake’s inherent right to customary self-government is protected by section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A May, 2010 report by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples affirmed that First Nations have the right to maintain control over their internal affairs and be free to pursue their vision of customary government.
Tony Wawatie, community spokesperson: 819 – 860-4121
Marylynn Poucachiche, community spokesperson: 819-441-4923
Open Letter to Minister John Duncan August 11, 2010
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
SENT VIA FAX: 819-953-4941
Attention: Minister John Duncan
Union of BC Indian Chiefs support Algonquins of Barriere Lake/Mitchikanibikok Inik
We would like to take a moment to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. We look forward to working with you as we jointly undertake the myriad of challenges that confront First Nations of this country.
We are writing to convey our strong and unwavering support for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in their ongoing struggle to protect and defend the integrity of their customary leadership selection code known as the Barriere Lake Governance Code (BLGC) . As you may or may not be aware, the BLGC was adopted by the community in 1997.
We are shocked, alarmed and deeply angered to hear that the Government of Canada, through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and the Government of Quebec, through the Surete du Quebec, are openly collaborating to forcefully impose the Section 74 Election provisions of the Indian Act on the Algonquins of Barriere Lake. We understand that Surete du Quebec police officers shall be deployed into Algonquin territory for the purposes of overseeing the establishment of polling stations and have been ordered to arrest anyone who opposes the imposition of the Indian Act Election system.
Needless to say, this flies-in-the-face of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Canadian Constitution and most importantly, the Inherent Indigenous and Treaty Rights of the Algonquin Peoples.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs publicly condemns the aggressive, bullying tactics of the governments of Canada and Quebec. Shame on Prime Minister Harper and Premier Jean Charest!
We would like to point out that the Union of BC Indian Chiefs is not alone in its condemnation of the thuggish actions of Canada and Quebec. Recently, at the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly in Winnipeg an AFN Resolution was unanimously supported by the Chiefs-in-Assembly which called for the following:
1. Condemnation of the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl for his disregard for the customary leadership selection code and reconciliation process within the Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation by trying to impose the Indian Act Section 74 Election System over the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
2. Demand that the federal Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl, immediately rescind the Section 74 Order imposing the Section 74 elective system over the Algonquins of Barriere Lake First Nation.
3. Demand the governments of Canada and Quebec implement the 1991 Trilateral Agreement and related agreements with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
4. Mandate the AFN to work with First Nations, Tribal Councils, PTOs and AFN regional offices on a national framework to support and facilitate First Nations-driven elections and leadership selection processes, including the resolution of community disputes, consistent with the internal sovereignty and customs and traditions of First Nations.
Therefore, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs supports the Algonquins of Barriere Lakes call for your Ministry to immediately rescind its order s to impose the Indian Act Section 74 election system on their community against their wishes. Rather, we support the immediate intervention of our AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo to assist in the facilitation of an internal community reconciliation/leadership selection process under the Barriere Lake Governance Code.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
The UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
In 1991, Mitchikanibikok Inik (Algonquins of Barriere Lake, or ABL) negotiated a groundbreaking Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec giving their joint management of their territory. Both governments refuse to honor the agreement. Algonquins of Barriere Lake is a 450-person community located at Rapid lake; 4 hours north of Ottawa.
Their 59 acre reserve at Rapid Lake was established in 1961. ABL community relies on diesel generators for electricity even though they are situated on hydro-grid. Because the generators have operated at fully capacity and also the reserve is too small, no more new houses or buildings can be added to the community.
The housing on the reserve is under very critical condition. Most of the houses are moldy and over crowded with 8 to 18 people living in one house. Over 80% of community members are unemployed.
Due to the dire housing situation in the community, Quebec Youth Protection Agency is refusing to allow infants to return to the community from the hospital.
Language is culture! Despite the colonial oppressions from Canada and Quebec, ABL community members still speak their own language – the oldest dialect of the Algonquin language.
The territory of Algonquins of Barriere Lake covers the area of La Verendrye wildlife reserve, north of Maniwaki, Quebec. Mitchikanibikok Inik has never surrendered Aboriginal title to its territory.
1989 – Unrestrained clear-cut logging within La Verendrye wildlife reserve depleted the animals they hunt and trap, consequently threatened Algonquins’ way of life and subsistence. ABL blockaded logging roads under the leadership of their customary chief Jean-Maurice Matchewan to protest clear-cutting operations.
For background leading up to the signed Trilateral Agreement, watch this NFB film directed by Boyce Richardson: Blockade – Algonquins Defend The Forest.
1991 – ABL signed Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec to sustainably co-manage 10,000 square kilometers of ABL’s traditional territory. Under this agreement, ABL community is able to protect their traditional way of life and receive 1.5 million out of 100 million annual revenues through logging, hydro-electricity and tourism from their land.
1996 – Canada imposed an Interim Band Council (selection by petition) and placed ABL in Third Party Management (TPM).
ABL codified its traditional oral customs into “Mitchikanibikok Inik Anishinabe Onakinakewin” (Customary Governance Code) at the insistence of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
1997 – Quebec Superior Court Judge, Rejean Paul issued a mediation report confirming the legitimacy of ABL’s Customary Chief and Council led by Harry Wawati, and therefore Canada wrongly interfered in ABL’s customary governance. Canada reversed its decision on the interim Band Council and Third Party Management and recognized the legitimacy of ABL’s Customary Chief and Council.
ABL and Canada signed Memorandum of Mutual Intent and a Global Proposal to Rebuild the Community. ABL and Canada also signed Special Provisions Agreement, which commits Canada to engage in a process with ABL to address the financial issues related to Canada’s interference with ABL’s governance in 1996-97.
2006 – ABL negotiator, Clifford Lincoln, and Quebec’s negotiator, John Ciaccia, jointly issued a series of recommendations for co-management of the territory, resource revenue sharing, expansion of the reserve and connection to the hydro grid. Read about the recommendations: Bilateral Agreement – 2006 Lincoln-Ciaccia recommendations
Canada refused to recognize the legitimate Jean-Maurice Matchewan Chief and Council due to a new leadership selection process. Canada made a decision to put the community into Third Party Management (TPM) in July because of financial deficient.
Third Party Management (TPM) – An outside manager is hired by the department of Indian Affairs to deliver the programs and services on the reserve. The Chief and Council have no say under TPM.
As a result of TPM:
Local services have been reallocated to friends and relatives of the Third Party Management, some from off-reserve.
Local school teachers have been replaced with teachers who do not speak Algonquin, and the curriculum has been changed to eliminate traditional teachings.
Services have deteriorated.
Non-TPM supporters who did retain local jobs were made to feel threatened at work.
Locks on community buildings such as band offices, community centre, fire hall and gymnasium are changed to exclusion of local residents.
Roughly 80% of the community has stopped accepting services from TPM.
2007 – Quebec Superior Court Judge, Rejean Paul issued a mediation report confirming the legitimacy of ABL’s Customary Chief and Council led by Jean-Maurice Matchewan. Canada had no choice but recognize Jean-Maurice Matchewan’s leadership.
March 2008 – Once again, Canada intervened with ABL’s self-governance by recognize a Chief and Council not selected by the community according to the community’s customs. Benjamin Nottaway, the Customary Council Chief at that time was ousted by Canada in what many have called a “government orchestrated coup d’état.” (Coup d’état in Indian Country Community members say traditional leadership ousted by the Canadian government – http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/1803)
The Barrier Lake community demands that Canada and Quebec honour signed agreements and respect their traditional governance.
Barriere Lake’s List of Demands
That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.
That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.
That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.
That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.
That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.
That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs’ treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.
The Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-First Nation relations and improving the policing procedures of the SQ when policing First Nation communities.
October 2008 – the Barriere Lake Algonquins (Mitchikinabikok Inik) and non-native supporters blockaded Highway 117 ” an obscure but economically important link between Montreal and northern Quebec.” (video – http://blip.tv/file/1391794). The community, including Elders, youth and children, were met with a brutal police response from Sûreté du Québec (SQ). Riot cops used tear gas and pain compliance, instead of negotiators. The police response has drawn criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemaker Team.
November 2008 – With no response from the governments on entering a negotiation, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and allies blockaded the highway again on Nov. 18, 2008. This time, SQ police deliberately targeted community members and arrested four Algonquins, including Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway. (video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyGBFMwjhXM).
Recently revealed correspondence between the head of Indian and Northern Affairs of Canada (INAC) Chuck Strahl and Marc Perron, a representative for the Minister during an alternative dispute resolution process between the federal government and Algonquin of Barriere Lake First Nation in the fall of 2007, backed up the claim of INAC sponsored coup d’etat. The correspondence was obtained under court-order. Read “Another Smoking Gun: Top Diplomat’s report to Minister laid out strategy for government subversion of Algonquin community” http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2009/08/another-smoking-gun-top-diplomats.htmlfor more details.
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.” Press Release – Canada seeks to unconstitutionally abolish Algonquin’s customary government to avoid honouring agreements and recognizing legitimate leadership – https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/release-barriere-lake-governance/.
Section 74 of the Indian Act: “Whenever he deems it advisable for the good government of a band, the Minister may declare by order that after a day to be named therein the council of the band, consisting of a chief and councillors, shall be selected by elections to be held in accordance with this Act.”
According to Section 35 of 1982 Constitution, Canada “recognizes and affirms the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of aboriginal peoples”. Barrier Lake’s customs were not extinguished prior to the entrenchment of Aboriginal rights in the Constitution Act, 1982; therefore ABL Customary Governance Code is constitutionally protected. The Minister of Indian Affairs is prevented from changing their customary system of government.
Imposition of Section 74 is an attack to the ABL Customary practice which is passed by their ancestor to protect their identity, culture, language and territory against acts of assimilation, marginalization and discrimination.
According to the Customary Governance code, elders play key role in governance: nominating potential leadership candidates, who would be approved or rejected by community members in public assemblies.
To be part of leadership selections and decision making: you must be an adult, live within the traditional territories at least 12 months, speak the language, and have knowledge and connection to the land. Chief’s position is based on hereditary entitlement, leadership abilities, knowledge of the land, and community support. Leaders can be removed by will of the people.
ABL’s Customary government is directly democratic form of government accords well with decentralized organization.
If ABL customary governance structure is being replaced by the election system, it would open up voting to non-residents who have no connection to the land, consequently, jeopardize proving Aboriginal title to their territory. It would further contribute to Canada’s agenda of assimilation, extinguishment of Aboriginal title and collective rights of Indigenous peoples.
July 2010 – Barriere Lake community members set up a peaceful blockade on the access road to their reserve to prevent an electoral officer from conducting a nomination meeting for Indian Act band elections.
August 2010 – On August 12, another nomination meeting was called. Barriere Lake Algonquins mounted boycott of government-imposed election poll in face of threats of arrest by Quebec police. On August 13, despite overwhelming community opposition, the Department of Indian Affairs announced that a new Indian Act Chief and Council have been elected by acclamation in Barriere Lake, after between 6 and 10 nomination mail-in ballots were received by a government electoral officer. On August 20, the acclaimed Chief, Casey Ratt, announced he rejected the Indian Act Chief position.
Read the media coverage on Canada’s imposition of Indian Act election:
In Solidarity with Mitchikanibikok Inik (Algonquins of Barriere Lake)
“Our Feast is where we give thanks for what we feed our families, the foods that come from our lands and waters. The Three String Wampum is a symbol for shaking hands with our Brothers and Sisters, their children and all living things. This is where our teachings come from. We have a big responsibility: To Protect Our Land, To Protect Our Animals, Fish and Birds. To defend our hunting way of life so our teachings and our feast will continue to exist for our children, grandchildren and the coming generations, along with our Language and Beliefs.”
– from the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Community
Majority of us have long forgotten our connection to the land, where our food, clothes and everything else come from, as we are so entrenched in this capitalist, industrial society. Majority of us have also long forgotten why our ancestors immigrated to this land long ago at the first place. The Algonquins made an agreement with the English and French to live together in harmony, which is well documented in the Three Figure Wampum. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 promised to the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (Canada) that their territories and sovereignty would be protected by the King of Britain. The Royal Proclamation is a legal document and it is still valid today.
The Algonquins have uphold their word to co-exist with the new comers by sharing their majestic lands. However, Canada has constantly broken its promises to remain good relationships with the First peoples of this land by restricting the native peoples living on the reserves, forcing young native children as young as 5 years old to go to residential schools, where majority of the children experienced physical, psychological and/or sexual abuses, giving away their land to corporations for resources exploration and/or exploitation without their consents, providing inadequate child welfare, health care and educational services to the children and families on the reserves, and so on.
Particularly with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Canada has broken its promises by dishonouring signed agreements: Trilateral Agreement, Memorandum of Mutual Intent & Global Proposal to Rebuild ABL community and the Special Provisions.
We, who are in solidarity with Indigenous peoples, understand that Canada’s ultimate goal is to terminate Indigenous peoples, so the elites can take their lands without stealing them. Greed! That is why Canada has consistently behaved unethically, without respect, towards native peoples on our behalf, in our name.
We, who stand with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, understand that the survival of the Algonquin people, therefore the survival of their lands and waters, means the survival of all of us. We are all connected in this global community. All of us need to understand, care and be responsible for the land.
Therefore, it is our, allies’, responsibility to hold Canada accountable for the broken promises to reconcile with the Algonquins by meeting their demands: uphold the agreements, revoke Third Party Management, respect ABL’s leadership selection, customary code, self-determination and sovereignty.
If you agree with us, feel compassionate towards the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, please talk to us so we can work together in solidarity with the Algonquin people. If you don’t agree with us and think that Canada is working on our best interest and entitled to treat the Algonquins unjustly, please talk to us so we could start a dialogue.
Please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org