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Canadian government plays divide and conquer with Algonquin indigenous peoples over logging
Video Description: The indigenous Algonquin community of Barriere Lake has been fighting with the provincial government of Quebec and the federal government of Canada for nearly twenty years over their land. Blockades they have set up in the late 1980s stopped illegal logging on their land and led them to sign a Trilateral Agreement with the two governments. Today, the community claims the agreement and all others that followed have not been honored, while logging companies plan to resume operations. In an effort to exert pressure on the government and the logging industry, the community has set up several blockades in protest. In response, the community's spokespeople and leaders have been arrested. Benjamin Nottoway, Barriere Lake's customary chief has been arrested at the last blockade and sentenced to two months in jail.
Chiefs of Ontario intervene on behalf of Barriere Lake Algonquins.
Please see attached
NOTE: NORMAN MATCHEWAN, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE BARRIERE LAKE ALGONQUINS WAS PUBLISHED TODAY IN THE MONTREAL GAZETTE!
UPDATE: An Algonquin man is hospitalized the morning after Quebec police shot him in the chest with a tear-gas cannister. A disabled teenage girl was also treated with oxygen in the local Health Clinic. Twenty two children under eight and two babies were caught in the tear gas shot by the police.
To view photos
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October, 7, 2008
Canada and Quebec use riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" on peaceful Algonquin families to avoid negotiations: 'pain compliance' perfect description of Conservative's aboriginal policy, say community spokespeople
Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - Yesterday afternoon, the Conservative government and Quebec used riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" techniques to end a peaceful blockade erected by Algonquin families from Barriere Lake, rather than negotiate, as requested by the community. The blockade on Highway 117 in Northern Quebec began at 6:00am Monday, with nearly a hundred community members of all ages and their supporters promising to remain until Canada's Conservative government and Quebec honoured signed agreements and Barriere Lake's leadership customs. Around 4pm, nearly sixty Quebec officers and riot police encircled families after a meal and without warning launched tear gas canisters, one of which hit a child in the chest.
Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117:
Community loses patience with broken agreements and coup d'etat on Algonquin territory
Brief description: After exhausting all political avenues, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and many non-native supporters have just blockaded highway 117. They will maintain the peaceful blockade until both the Canadian and Quebec governments honour their signed agreements that would allow co-management of their traditional territory and resource revenue sharing, and until Canada respects their leadership customs by appointing an observer to witness a leadership selection in accordance with their Customary Governance, and in good faith recognize the outcome.
Click here for the Algonquins' full list of demands
Quotes from Barriere Lake Algonquin Spokespeople:
Michel Thusky, community spokesperson: "To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council. In what amounts to a coup d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government too because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the 1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 29, 2008
Barriere Lake slows down traffic on Highway 117: continues to pressure Minister Lawrence Cannon and his Conservative Government to respect Barriere Lake's agreements and leadership customs
Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory Territoire Algonquin /- On the National Day of Political Action, at 1:30 pm, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake will slow down traffic on highway 117 to distribute flyers and raise awareness about the Conservative government's violations of their rights.
"The federal government must accept reasonable demands we've spent years trying to reach them about – that the government honour agreements they've signed with us and stop undemocratically propping up an illegitimate Chief and Council in our community," says Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for Barriere Lake.
They want the Government of Canada to uphold an internationally lauded sustainable development agreement Barriere Lake signed with Quebec and the Conservative federal government in 1991. The Government of Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001.
To resolve the situation, Barriere Lake is demanding that the Government of Canada send observers to witness a leadership re-selection, in accordance with Barriere Lake's Customary Governance Code, in good faith recognize the outcome, and then cease all interference in their internal affairs.
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Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819-435 - 2171
Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson : (819) 435-2171
Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière
As the day dragged on, Algonquins of Barriere Lake community members and supporters moved north to Gatineau and performed political street theatre in front of the Department of Indian Affairs. The scene depicts Chief Norman orchestrating a coup d'etat on Michael Wernick's territory with help from an Ontario police officer.
*Photo taken by Charles Mostoller
A delegation including Louisa Ratt, Norman Matchewan, and some children from Barriere Lake delivered a letter to Michael's house. The package contained a press release from the event and a letter, addressed from Grand Chief Norman Young of the Tribal Council to Indian Affairs Minister, Chuck Strahl, calling for Indian Affairs to oversee and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere Lake.
*Photos taken by Charles Mostoller
*Photo taken by Charles Mostoller
The past month has been a hotbed of indigenous social justice activity in Ottawa. The Algonquin community of Barriere Lake has organized and carried out several actions alongside local organizers and ally groups.
On June 26th, 2008 a dozen Algonquins and supporters occupied the office of MP Lawrence Cannon, Stephen Harper’s Quebec Lieutenant. Cannon is the also the Minister of Transportation and MP Responsible for the Pontiac Region in Quebec, in which Barriere Lake is located.
“We came here today to demand a meeting with the minister,” said Acting Chief Benjamin Nottoway in front of the MP’s office in Buckingham, QC. His demand of the minister was “to call for a leadership reselection in our community. We hope to get a response by today, or we will stay here as long as it takes.”
The aboriginal activists and allies unfortunately could not stay, as by five in the evening they were forced to leave the office. Six were arrested, detained, and released later in the night, greeted by a crowd of cheering supporters.
The chief’s promise to continue putting pressure on the minister was not in vain as on July 16th almost a hundred members of the reserve of 450 came to Ottawa for a three-day protest and camp-out.
We’re here to demand the minister live up to the promise that he made to us,” said former chief Jean-Morice Matchewan. “They never kept one promise that they made to us,” he continued.
OTTAWA-Located two hours north of Montreal, the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake came to Ottawa to protest government interference in their reserve.
Demanding a meeting with MP Lawrence Cannon and a government-overseeing of governance reselection on their reserve, the community aims to correct a March coup d'etat carried out on their reserve.
The community's Customary Chief, Benjamin Nottoway, speaks with RabbleTV about the recent events on the reserve, the governance difficulties, and the struggle to protect the land.
Terry Matchewan, an Algonquin man who was part of the delegation to Ottawa was attacked alongside four other Algonquin men by Gatineau police and speaks of their targetting and wounds.
OTTAWA- The Barriere Lake Algonquins are once again back in Ottawa for a three day protest. Camping out on Victoria Island, the community, alongside Montreal and Ottawa activists, has organized a panel discussion, a series of protests, marches, and events including a panel discussion, film screening, and poetry show.
Friday, July 16, 2008
Algonquins to demonstrate in front of Department of Indian Affairs and march through downtown Ottawa: demand Government of Canada end illegal interference in community governance and oversee new leadership selection
Ottawa, ON / – Algonquins from the Barriere Lake First Nation will end three days of demonstrations in Ottawa by picketing in front of the Department of Indian Affairs in Gatineau at 11:00am and marching through the downtown core at 1:30pm, demanding that the Government oversee a leadership re-selection in accordance with Barriere Lake's customs, and honour its signed agreements with the community.
GATINEAU- on June 26th, 2008 Algonquin representatives from Barriere Lake reserve in Quebec came to Gatineau. A protest was called outside the Northern and Indian Affairs building to demand the governemnt reverse the recent coup d'etat it imposed on the reserve. The protest turned out to be a diversion for a peaceful sit-in which took place in MP Lawrence Cannon's office in Buckingham, QC. In spite of the indigenous and solidarity activists demands to see the MP they were ignored and six members were arrested. They were released later in the night.
Correction: unnamed Algonquin representative of Barriere Lake in video is former Customary Chief Jean-Maurice Matchewan, under whose leadership Canada and Quebec signed the reserve's Trilateral Agreement in 1991.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.