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

[français ci-dessous]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

=========

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.

Thurs 13 Jan noon – Save Ottawa’s old-growth forest Rally!

Protect the Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata


We demand the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the Province of Ontario to hold the development of the Beaver Pond Forest!

The Beaver Pond Forest is on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Territory.  All level of the government – the City of Ottawa, the NCC and the Province of Ontario must respect the requests of the Algonquin First Nation communities as well as the local Ottawa community to do a full archeological assessment of possible medicine wheels and artifacts dated back 10,000 years ago.

~~ RALLY! ~~

Noon, Thurs Jan 13
Meet at the Human Rights Monument, Elgin at Lisgar, next to City Hall

GOAL

This is a rally to demand that the City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission (NCC), and the Province of Ontario step up and do their job: order Urbandale Corporations and KNL Development Inc. not to clear-cut or blast any of the Beaver Pond Forest at least until spring when an archaeological assessment can be re-done.

This is for ecological, archaeological, cultural, spiritual and humane reasons. All levels of government could halt development based on new evidence that the archaeological assessment needs to be redone. But none is taking responsibility. So we are taking action to remind them to do their jobs and make the City of Ottawa a better place to live, for us now and for future generations.

PLAN for Thurs Jan 13:

  • 12pm (noon): Assemble at the Human Rights Monument at corner of Lisgar & Elgin, next to City Hall
  • Bring your own signs, we also have some made which will be used in a subsequent Activist Art show (first come, first served 😉
  • statements will be read, letters delivered, songs shared. We will march to the NCC Office at 40 Elgin Street, past their Info Ctr across from, Parliament Hill, and end back at City Hall. Exact schedule TBA.
  • Be musical (bring instruments & noisemakers!)
  • Main Message to City Hall, NCC, & Province: Take Responsibility! Do the Right Thing: Save Beaver Pond Forest!

MORE INFO

“Some twelve thousand years ago the South March Highlands where the Beaver Pond Forest is found was an island surrounded by the waters of the ice age created Champlain Sea. As the water receded, a rich and fertile land renewed its relationship with the winds. The birds, insects, animals and people living on the highlands at that time carried the seeds of trees and also pollen of the islandís plant life further and further into their ever-widening territory.” – Algonquin elder Albert Dumont

Now the developers are set to destroy the forest in order to build a subdivision. The commencement of destruction is immanent – we need to take a stand NOW!

Community voices:
http://the5thc.blogspot.com/
http://candle4kindness.wordpress.com/

A letter from Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin Elder, to the relevant public officials: http://www.ottawasgreatforest.com/Site/Algonquin_Information.html

Details on inadequate environmental assessment & storm waster management plans: http://renaud.ca/wordpress/?p=716

TAKE ACTION:

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Marie Lemay, Chief Executive Officer of NCC,
marie.lemay@ncc-ccn.ca
Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Culture, mchan.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Peter Evans, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister for Culture,
Peter.Evans@ontario.ca
Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, cbentley.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Gordon O’Connor, Federal Cabinet Minister and MP for Kanata,
oconng@parl.gc.ca
Norm Sterling, MPP for Kanata, norm.sterlingco@pc.ola

Also write to the developers to hold the development of the Beaver Pond Forest and do a full archeological assessment of that area:
Urbandale: mjarvis@urbandale.com 613-731-6331http://urbandale.com/corp
Richcraft: info@richcraft.com – 613-739-7111 – http://richcraft.com

Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Do-Not-Cut-Beaver-Pond-Forest-or-SMH/

Join the network to help protect this precious land:
– email info@ottawasgreatforest.com and ask to stay updated
– or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46087029890

UPDATES

Any updates will be on the FB Event page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155983114454420 and at http://candle4kindness.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/save-beaver-pond-forest-rally-at-city-hall-13-january-noon/