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

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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.

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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.

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

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ROLL WITH THE DECLARATION – “THE LAND, OUR LIFE”

~~ Please spread the word ! ~~

ROLL WITH THE DECLARATION – “THE LAND, OUR LIFE”
Participatory Indigenous Solidarity Workshop with KAIROS, IPSMO – Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective and FAMILIES OF SISTERS IN SPIRIT

We will be making BANNERS!

1 pm – 5 pm
Saturday, June 4 2011
PSAC boardroom, 233 Gilmour St. Ottawa
Unceded and Unsurrendered Algonquin Territory

This workshop is open to everyone!  Refreshment and snack will be provided.

Please R.S.V.P. through this facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164532860277728.  Thanks!!

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.

For more info:

Mitchikanibikok Inik (the Algonquins of Barriere Lake): http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.org,
Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada: http://www.amnesty.ca/campaigns/sisters_overview.php,
Families of Sisters in Spirit: https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_126522944087041&ap=1,
Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa: http://www.ipsmo.org,
KAIROS: http://www.kairoscanada.org, and

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html