Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Algonquins of Barriere Lake briefing package

Algonquins of Barriere Lake Briefing Package
1. Short Introduction
2. Barriere Lake’s List of Demands
3. Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest, from 1989-2008
4. The Trilateral Agreement
5. Arthur Manuel’s Submission to the United Nations
6. Assembly of First Nation’s Briefing Note
7. Ottawa Citizen Op-Ed by Boyce Richardson, Order of Canada recipient
8. Algonquin Nation Secretariat Grand Chief Norman Young’s letter to Minister of
Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Laurier Riel report
9. Message from the Community
Contact Information
Community Spokespeople
Michel Thusky 819.435.2171
Marylynn Poucachiche 819.435.2142
Norman Matchewan 819.334.0411
Barriere Lake Policy Advisor
Russell Diabo 613.296.0110
Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat
Norman Young 819.723.2019
Barriere Lake Solidarity Collective
Organizer Martin Lukacs 514.522.8416
For more information:
1. Short Introduction
For twenty difficult years, the small Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, 5 hours
north of Montreal, has been struggling to hold the government to their word. In 1991,
they signed a resource co-management and sustainable development agreement with
Canada and Quebec to protect Algonquin land uses, conserve the forest and wildlife, and
improve their dire economic situation. To avoid fulfilling their obligations, the
Department of Indian Affairs has been playing divide and rule in Barriere Lake, wreaking
havoc in the community by ousting the Customary Chief and Council and illegally
recognizing a more pliable, small faction as the leadership. Despite knowledge of his
government's illegal and immoral actions, Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon,
Harper's Quebec lieutenant and MP in Barriere Lake's riding of Pontiac, has not
ensured his federal government complies with the law and deals fairly with the
2. Barriere Lake’s List of Demands
1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership reselection
process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and
Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.
2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin
language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.
3. 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.
4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed
unjustly on Barriere Lake.
5. 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
6. 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.
7. 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.
3. Blockades: Algonquins Defend the Forest, 1989-2008
In 1989, an NFB film called 'Blockade: Algonquins Defend the Forest' (Dir. Boyce
Richardson) documented the dramatic stand taken by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
To force provincial negotiators to stop the clear-cut logging on their traditional lands and
to push for the development of a sustainable plan for resource management, they initiated
a sustained campaign of logging road blockades that culminated in a one-day blockade of
Highway 117.
In 2008, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are back on the blockades. Despite their
successes at the negotiating table and in the development of a co-management plan, the
impressive Trilateral Agreement has lost the support of federal and provincial
governments. Instead, the federal government has been actively interfering in the
customary governance of the community. Norman Matchewan, youth spokesperson for
the community, explains their current predicament and what led the community to block
the highway, in an op-ed published on October 9, 2008 in the Montreal Gazette:
The Barrière Lake Algonquins' decision to peacefully blockade Highway 117 was not
easily made. We have always preferred co-operation to confrontation. We do not wish to
disrupt the lives of Canadians. Unfortunately, it seems their governments otherwise
ignore or dismiss us - or worse, treat us with contempt.
During a protest at federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon's campaign launch last
month, his assistant insinuated that I was an alcoholic. After the ensuing media scandal
forced Cannon to hold a meeting we had been requesting for two years, he vilified our
community's majority as "dissidents" in an op-ed in regional newspapers.
The government has now tried to add "criminals" to the charge. To avoid negotiations,
the government had Monday's peaceful blockade 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" techniques to remove people clipped into lockbox barrels.
But Canada and Quebec have never been overly concerned with the rule of law in their
dealings with Barrière Lake. Our relationship has been defined by breached agreements
and illegal interference in our internal affairs.
In 1991, Barrière Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Canada and Quebec to
benefit from the resource extraction on our land and 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 Customary
Chief and Council with a minority faction who let the agreement fall aside.
We are one of the few First Nations in the country who have always ruled ourselves
according to custom, outside the electoral provisions of the Indian Act: Elders nominate
eligible leaders who are then approved, by consensus if possible, in assemblies.
Participation is open only to those who live in the community, speak our language, and
have knowledge of and connection to the land. But in 1996, the Department of Indian
Affairs encouraged this faction, located mainly off-reserve, to collect signatures for a
petition; Indian Affairs then imposed this group on us, claiming our leadership customs
had "evolved into selection by petition."
It was a patent lie. Former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Michel Gratton issued a
devastating rebuke to the government: "This unilateral and sudden decision to dismiss
and replace the existing chief and council,” he wrote in the Montreal Gazette, “goes
against the grain of every democratic principle."
We suffered grievously for a year and a half. Although we barred the minority group
from our community, they colluded with the government from Maniwaki, 150 km to the
south. On the reserve, we were deprived of federal transfers for employment, education,
social assistance, and electricity. We lived in the dark, educated our children as we could,
and barely subsisted off bush food.
A resolution was finally achieved in 1997 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Réjean Paul
and two federal facilitators, who restored our legitimate Chief and Council and renewed
the Trilateral agreement. To prevent future interference, they helped codify our
leadership customs into a Customary Governance Code that the government promised to
respect. This is our aboriginal right protected by the Canadian Constitution - the highest
law in the land.
Even this proved a paltry deterrent to further meddling. In 2001, the federal government
pulled out of the Trilateral agreement, the implementation of which was meant to lift us
out of our impoverishment – 90% unemployment, as many as 18 people to a home, in a
59-acre reserve powered by a diesel generator.
This ensured that internal divisions continued to fester, and the government was soon
favouring certain community members opposed to our legitimate leadership. The
Department of Indian Affairs has little sympathy for leaders unwilling to forget the
government's outstanding debts. Judge Paul mediated again in 2007, concluding that the
opposition to our chief and council remained "a small minority" whose leadership
challenge "did not respect the Customary Governance Code."
But when this same minority group conducted another illegitimate leadership selection in
January 2008, the federal government quickly recognized them. In court, we forced the
government to release an observer's report they relied on: not surprisingly, the report
stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected
during this selection.
Yet again, the government is throwing democratic principles to the wind by ignoring our
customs and the wishes of our people. And Cannon has the audacity to call the
overwhelming majority of our community members "dissidents"!
This time, the Department of Indian Affairs has played coy: they claim they innocently
made an administrative “acknowledgement" when they recognized and started doing
business with the minority faction. Reconsidering this decision would amount to an
unacceptable "intervention" in our internal affairs. The leadership problems are our own.
This ludicrous line of defense was accepted in August by a Prothonotary, who dismissed
our Elder’s Council’s legal challenge of the leadership change (the decision is being
appealed in Federal Court).
Indian Affairs even hinted that the ideal solution to our leadership dispute, one largely of
the government's making, would be to sweep away our constitutional rights to traditional
governance and impose on us an electoral system. As Karl Kraus might have said, Indian
Affairs is the illness for which it regards itself as the cure.
To resolve this crisis, we are prepared to participate in a new leadership selection
according to our Customary Governance Code. We ask only that the federal government
appoint an observer and promise to abide by the result, and that they and the province
honour our agreements.
We set up the blockades Monday morning as a last resort, to inspire in the government a
changed attitude. Our good faith and patience and reasonable demands have so far been
rewarded by broken promises, deceit, and deplorable interventions. Is this all we can
--Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson
4. The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement
Claudia Notzke, excerpts from A Report Prepared for the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples, October 1995:
The 1980s and 1990s have been witnessing a redefinition of the relationship between
aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, and as part of it, a restructuring of power and
responsibility with regard to natural resources. Co-management, joint management or
joint stewardship regimes have been the most tangible result of these changed
parameters. These innovative management regimes integrate local and state management
systems, allocate control of resources among competing interests and facilitate the
merging of knowledge. They have been established in all parts of Canada under different
circumstances and for different purposes.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement of northern Quebec is more than just another
variation on this increasingly familiar theme. It constitutes a category of its own and is
unmatched (at least in the provinces) in its vision as well as in the problems its
proponents have had to overcome. This Agreement was designed to address a situation,
where a small aboriginal community, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in La Verendrye
Park, pursuing an essentially land-based way of life, saw themselves confronted with
aggressive resource exploitation in their traditional use area, in the form of logging,
recreational hunting, and hydroelectric development. This situation is embedded in a
political framework of non-recognition of treaty and aboriginal rights, centralized
decision-making with regard to land and resource use planning, and a strong emphasis on
extractive resource utilization.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement was signed on August 22, 1991, by the
Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the government of Quebec, and the government of Canada.
It owes its existence exclusively to the initiative of the Algonquins. Their rationale for
pursuing it was not an assertion of their aboriginal rights, but rather the realization of
integrated resource management which would take the needs of their subsistence
economy into account. As integral part of the Agreement, the Algonquins propose a
model of 'sustainable development', patterned after concepts of the 1987 Brundtland
Report by the World Commission on Environment and Development. This report
advocates an approach to development, where economic growth 'must be based on
policies that sustain and expand the environmental resource base.' (World Commission
on Environment and Development 1987:1) The report also acknowledges that aboriginal
peoples have a singular role to play in this process.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement is not a co-management agreement in the sense
that it immediately effects the establishment of co-management institutions and comanagement
procedures, concerned with the joint management of a particular species or
area. Rather it is designed to lay the groundwork for the cooperative development of an
integrated resource management plan for a region comprising 1 million hectares, the
major portion of the traditional use area of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
Several major tasks are involved:
- design and implementation of interim protection measures for the duration of the
- analysis and evaluation of existing data and information, and compilation of new
inventories and information on renewable resource use, potential, impacts and interaction
of activities related to their exploitation and development within the perimeter of the
Agreement territory;
- based on the above, the preparation of a draft integrated management plan for
renewable resources (by December 1994); and
- the formulation of recommendations for the carrying out of the draft integrated
resource management plan.
For almost two years of the Agreement's implementation, the Algonquins and their team
struggled against overwhelming odds to make the trilateral process work. While the
problems were numerous, most of them stemmed from the basic question, just what kind
of management regime would prevail in the territory during the implementation of the
Agreement. Quebec viewed its resource management regime as sacrosanct, with no room
for compromise. While the provincial government acknowledged that the Agreement
was 'a process for change', it nevertheless insisted that the Agreement be implemented
within the rigid confines of existing laws and regulations. This insistence created a crisis
from the very beginning, resulted in overt non-compliance on the part of Quebec with the
terms of the Agreement, made effective protection of the territory's resources impossible,
and created a hostile climate between the Algonquins, industry and government.
The Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement constitutes a unique and innovative project in the
field of resource management. David Nahwegahbow, legal counsel and Acting Special
Representative for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, lists some of the features, which in
his view, make the Agreement unique:
- development of a database
- the education process
- the provision of funds
- binding decision-making power
- the overall comprehensiveness of the approach and the conservation strategy
- the size of the Agreement area, 1 million hectares.
Not infrequently, co-management regimes are embarked upon without the funds,
database, collective political will and 'vision', that are such vital ingredients to make a
regime work. This is particularly the case for some initiatives that take place outside the
claims process, and are motivated by a crisis or government policy. In contrast, the
Trilateral Agreement provides for the time, the funding and the organizational
infrastructure to create a database, a plan and a 'mindset' among all participants, to make
a future partnership in resource management work. Furthermore, the Agreement creates
an interim management regime which freezes further deterioration of the resource base.
The latter has proven to be an absolutely indispensable pre-condition for success of the
endeavour, since it not only protects the resource base but keeps the political will of the
aboriginal partners to the Agreement alive.
Is the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement a model for co-operative sustainable
development, which can work in other parts of Canada (or the world)? The answer may
be a tentative 'Yes, but with qualifications'.
The Algonquins and their Special Representative view the Agreement as a 'trail-blazer in
that it puts the doctrine of sustainable development into practice' and as a crucial pilot
project applicable in other parts of Canada, as 'a model of co-management and
reconciliation....and of the practical realization of self-government' (Clifford Lincoln,
ABL Submission to RCAP, Maniwaki, December 02, 1992).
Quebec's Special Representative on the other hand, feels that the project is too specific to
happen again under different circumstances, but that rather, conclusions drawn from this
process will be integrated in province-wide policies pertaining to forests and wildlife
(Andre Lafond, September 03, 1993, personal communication).
It must be emphasized that the Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement has many inherent
characteristics that suggest its applicability under widely varying circumstances. Most
importantly, it is a well thought-out and politically non-threatening approach to cooperative
sustainable development.
And in this age of environmental crisis there can be no disputing the validity of a vision
of environmental management, which reflects respect for all elements of nature and for
all its human stakeholders.
5. Arthur Manuel’s Submission to the United Nations
APRIL 21 - MAY 2, 2008
Arthur Manuel, Spokesperson, Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET)
Chairperson, Members of the Permanent Forum:
I have been asked to make this submission to the Permanent Forum and the delegates, by
Elder Harry Wawatie, who is a member of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Elders
Elder Wawatie thanks you for giving me the opportunity to deliver his message on the
mandate of the Permanent Forum the Millenium Development Goals and the matter of
Human Rights.
• The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have a population of about 450.
• They have a 59 acre Indian Reserve that was set aside in 1962.
• The housing situation is critical, most of the 60 houses have been condemned by Health
Canada for mould infestation, yet the houses are overcrowded with 8 to 18 people living
in one house. Quebec’s Youth Protection Agency is refusing to allow infants to return to
the community from the hospitals because of the poor housing conditions.
• The unemployment rate is about 80 to 90%.
• The federal government has mismanaged the community’s education services, one
study has shown serious age-grade deficiencies under the federal administration of the
• The community is one of the last in Quebec who depend on diesel generators for
electricity. These generators are operating at full capacity so no no houses or buildings
can be added to the community grid.
Despite the poor social and economic conditions, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have
maintained their language, culture and customary system of government.
Over the last 12 years the government of Canada has interfered in the internal affairs of
the Algonquins of Barriere Lake three times.
In 1996-97 the Canadian government imposed an outside group as the Chief and Council.
The federal government had to reverse its decision and recognize the legitimate
customary Chief and Council on April 17, 1997.
In 2006, the federal government refused to recognize the legitimate Chief and Council
during a new leadership selection process.
It took the intervention of a Quebec Superior Court Judge, Rejean Paul, who issued a
mediation report in May 2007, confirming the legitimacy of the Customary Chief and
Council, the Canadian government subsequently had to respect the community’s
leadership selection.
However, on March 10, 2008, the government of Canada once again recognized a Chief
and Council who according to the Barriere Lake Elders were not selected by the
community in accordance with the community’s customs.
The Barriere Lake Elders’ Council has launched a court action against the federal
Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl, to have the Minister’s decision to change the
Chief and Council overturned. The Department of Indian Affairs even refuses to release
the information they based their decision on, to the Barriere Lake Elders. Even though the
Barriere Lake Elders are responsible for overseeing leadership selection under their
Not only is there a flagrant disregard for Indigenous customs regarding leadership
selection, but the federal government is using the Quebec police force to install the
federally imposed Chief and Council, even though the majority of the people do not agree
to recognize the federally imposed group as their leaders.
The result of the federal imposition of an unaccepted Chief and Council has led to
problems with the delivery of programs and services and confusion around who is the
legitimate leadership.
The federal government is trying to replace the legitimate customary Chief and Council
just as negotiations were to start on implementing three major precedent setting
agreements the Algonquins of Barriere Lake had entered into with the governments of
Canada and Quebec.
In 1991, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake convinced the governments of Canada and
Quebec to sign a Trilateral Agreement establishing a pioneering land management
planning process based upon the Brundtland Report’s concepts of sustainable
development, conservation strategies and that Indigenous Peoples have a ‘decisive voice’
over land use decisions that affect them.
Further agreements were signed with the governments of Canada and Quebec but the
governments have continued to try and to get out of their obligations and liabilities under
these agreements.
Now, the Canadian government has breached Barriere Lake’s governance customs and
replaced their Customary Chief and Council with a federally imposed Chief and Council,
in yet another effort to get out of the signed agreements,, because of the precedent setting
nature of these agreements.
In contravention of the Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples and the signed
agreements with the community, the federal and provincial governments are
collaborating on promoting infighting within the community while refusing to honour
signed agreements, which contributes to the poor social and economic conditions in the
From this case and other like KI, it appears there is a pattern in Canada to remove the
Indigenous Peoples from their traditional lands to allow for unfettered corporate resource
access and exploitation of forests, minerals, oil & gas and hydro projects.
In conclusion, we recognize that the mandate of the Permanent Forum does not extend to
mediating complaints. However, it is our submission the Permanent Forum can examine
cases, such as the Barriere Lake situation.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum accelerate the timing of a meeting to
determine their role in facilitating the implementation of the UNDRIP, as well as the
Millenium Development goals, otherwise the human rights of Indigenous Peoples will
continue to be violated by state governments hostile to the norms set out in the UNDRIP.
We also recommend that the Permanent Forum consider ways and means to look into
cases like the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, where state governments violate Indigenous
cutoms and break signed agreements.
6. Assembly of First Nation’s Briefing Note
1. To come to an agreement with Min. Strahl on a process to resolve the legal dispute
between ABL and DIA regarding DIA's decision to place ABL in third party
management (TPM).
2. To fix relations between ABL and DIA to enable cooperation in addressing dire social
conditions recently documented film-maker Richard Desjardin in The Invisible NationlLe
peuple invisible.
3. To find an urgent solution to re-open the ABL School, that has been closed by ABL
parents due to opposition to the TPM.
Summary of Dispute
DIA made a decision to put ABL into TPM in July 2006 based on an alleged financial
deficit. The ABL Elders Council challenged this decision in Federal Court in August
2006. The Elders argue that DIA acted unfairly, without proper consultation and contrary
to its own policies by moving ABL from co-management to TPM.
Dispute Connected with DIA's Failure to Fulfill Agreements with ABL
The Elders also claim DIA's failure to fulfill the following agreements breach the honour
of the Crown, breach fiduciary obligations and have adversely affected ABL's financial
position, which disentitles DIA from appointing a TPM:
1. Special Provisions -In this agreement, signed originally in 1997, DIA acknowledged
that ABL's financial situation was adversely affected by DIA's decision in 1996 to impose
an Interim Band Council and a TPM on the First Nation. Furthermore DIA committed to
engage in a process with ABL to address these financial issues and clarify its financial
2. Memorandum ofMutual Intent (MOM/) --In this agreement, signed in October 1997,
DIA committed to a new relationship with ABL based on mutual respect; and it
committed to working with ABL on a Global Proposal to Rebuild the Community.
3. TrilateralAgreement-This agreement signed with Canada and Quebec in 1991 basically
establishes a consultation and accommodation framework to address the rights and
interests of ABL in its traditional territory.
ABL acknowledges it lacks the capacity for financial management and is therefore
willing to accept some co-management arrangement on a without prejudice basis, until
the issues related to the above three agreements are resolved.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Efforts to Date
Around the National Day of Action on June 29
, DM Michael Wen1ick started
discussions with ABL on an ADR process. ABL was looking for a process to negotiate
all outstanding issues, including DIA's failure to honour the above agreements. The
discussions concluded in September with the appointment of Marc Perron, as Special
Ministerial Representative. His mandate was fuzzy: it was to fact-find, enter into
discussions and report back to the Minister on further negotiations. Despite reservations,
ABL tried to make the process work. The Federal Court proceedings were suspended by
agreement between ABL and DIA in October 2, 2007, to allow ADR. Unfortunately, the
process with Mr. Perron has not worked-out. The community is fed-up with the TPM
overall, but is particularly frustrated with the TPM's unilateral manner in running the
ABL School. As a result, a majority of the parents forced the closure of the School
around the end of November. ABL sent a letter to Min. Strahl on November 26
to find
an alternative.
Simplest Option: Keeping the same mandate, find a suitable replacement for Mr. Perron,
with the input of ABL and AFN.
ABL Preferred Option: Appoint a new Ministerial Rep with a full mandate to negotiate
all issues outstanding in Federal Court. Consider using a Federal Court Judge to mediate
or facilitate negotiations.
ABL Customs
ABL's governance is according to custom. Its Council is, and has always been, selected
under custom and not the Indian Act. There are divisions in the community as in most
other communities, which have been exacerbated by ABL's extremely poor social
Social Conditions
Despite the fact that ABL has unsurrendered Aboriginal title to its traditional territory,
the First Nation has been squeezed on to a 59 acre reserve at Rapid Lake, where its
people live in run-down, mould-laden and over-crowded houses. Unemployment rates
run to 80%. Construction of new homes is not possible because the reserve is too small
and the community is not connected to the hydro grid. These conditions are leading to
removal of children by Youth Protection Services. ABL's territory has generated wealth
and jobs for the regional economy through forestry, tourism and hydro development; but
ABL has received nothing of these benefits. The marginalization of ABL and other
Algonquin First Nations in Quebec was recently documented by noted Quebec filmmaker
Richard Desjardin, in an NFB film entitled The Invisible Nation/Le peuple invisible. The
NFB called the film an "alarming indictn1ent".
Trilateral Agreement
ABL signed a Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec in 1991 in an effort to gain
some benefit as well as control in the management and development ofresources within
its territory. The federal government unilaterally withdrew from that agreement in 2001.
The Quebec Cabinet is currently considering a series of recommendations made jointly
by ABL's Negotiator, Clifford Lincoln, and Quebec's Negotiator, John Ciaccia, for comanagement
of the territory, resource revenue sharing, expansion of the reserve and
connection to the hydro grid. The Quebec Cabinet has delayed in approving the
recommendations, which has caused ABL to suspend forestry operations in its territory in
October. The Trilateral Agreement is the key to moving forward. Canada's absence at this
table impedes progress and undermines ABL's position.
Special Provisions and Memorandum of Mutual Intent The other two agreements in
issue, the Special Provisions and Memorandum of Mutual Intent, date back to the dispute
with DIA in 1996. In 1996, contrary to its own policies and the law, DIA interfered in
ABL's customary governance and installed an Interim Band Council (IBC) made-up ofa
dissident faction within the community. In recognizing the IBC, DIA claimed to be acting
on a petition and in accordance with an alleged "modem custom of leadership selection
by petition". At the same time, DIA appointed a third party manager, in a manner which
was also contrary to their policy at the time. The dispute caused hardship in the
community including the closure of the school and suspension of federal funding and
programs and services for one and a half years. Many of these issues remain outstanding.
The dispute was the subject of two Federal Court proceedings, which were not
determined on the merits. Instead, the dispute was resolved outside of court through
mediation and facilitation.
The mediation was undertaken by Justice Rejean Paul of the Quebec Superior Court -his
findings in January 1997 confirm that ABL did not select its leaders by petition and
therefore that DIA wrongly interfered in ABL's customary governance. Two Facilitators
were appointed by DIA and ABL, Andre Maltais and Michel Gratton, to resolve the
leadership issue and to address outstanding issues based on Judge Paul's Report. The
Facilitators resolved the leadership issue in 1997, by overseeing the codification of ABL's
customs and reaffirming ABL's Customary Council. DIA recognized the ABL Customary
Council in April 1997.
Messrs Maltais and Gratton were also mandated to address outstanding issues -issues
caused by DIA's improper intervention in 1996. They facilitated a resumption of DIA
funded services to the reserve and the signing of a Contribution Agreement in 1997,
which contained a Special Provision. This Special Provision has been in every
Contribution Agreement signed since 1997 and commits DIA to engage in a process with
ABL to address the financial issues related to DIA's interference with ABL's governance
in 1996-97. DIA also signed a Memorandum of Mutual Intent with ABL, which had
attached to it a Global Proposal to Rebuild the Community. DIA has fulfilled some
aspects of the MOMI~ however, it has totally refused to honour the Special Provisions.
7. Ottawa Citizen Op-ed by Boyce Richardson, Order of Canada recipient
Boyce Richardson, Citizen Special
July 15, 2008
I first came in contact with the Algonquins of Barrière Lake soon after the Brundtland
Report on the global environment was published by the United Nations in 1987.
That report had been endorsed by prime minister Brian Mulroney, and it recommended
that indigenous people should have "a decisive voice" in all development decisions about
their traditional lands.
There was no doubt that the greater part of the so-called La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve,
north of Maniwaki, formed the traditional lands of this impoverished community.
Or that they had never signed any instrument of surrender covering these lands.
Or that these lands were being remorselessly clear-cut from under them, without taking
into account their interests.
Their approach to the prime minister that he "put up or shut up" in relation to their
traditional lands got them nowhere. The clear-cutting continued, and the community
decided to block access of the loggers to the forest, so far as they could with their limited
What I saw when I arrived there with a National Film Board crew was an impressive
challenge mounted by one of the poorest communities in Canada, to the combined might
of industry and government.
The outcome was an agreement - known as the Trilateral Agreement - with the federal
and Quebec governments, to make a detailed survey of the lands in question that would
establish the areas of central interest to the continuation of Algonquin life, and work out a
cutting plan that would take into account everyone's interest.
To say that the governments have been reluctant to implement this agreement would be
an understatement.
First the Quebec, then the federal government withdrew and then, under pressure from
outside mediators such as Clifford Lincoln, the respected federal MP and former Quebec
environment minister, and judge Réjean Paul, they rejoined, and then quit again, while,
ironically enough, the logging companies became the ones who were willing to
I always knew there was dissension among the people in Barrière Lake.
Opposition was centred around the family of a wonderful old lady, Lena Nottaway, who
had established a large camp for her family north of the reserve. Her family were
traditionalists, adhering to the old ways.
There were volatile people on both sides of this argument, but their relationships were not
improved when the Indian Affairs department decided in 1996 to depose the leadership
elected under traditional procedures, and recognized an alternative band council from
members who were by this time living in Maniwaki.
Of course, this extremely provocative act didn't succeed, but who could have been
surprised by it when it was totally in line with the federal department's traditional "divide
and rule" tactics that they have been using for two centuries? Recently, the feds have
tried to repeat their dreadful maneuver.
My later reading convinced me that since Europeans first arrived among them, the
Barrière Lake people have known nothing but hardship, promises and betrayals.
They are used to this kind of manipulation.
The decision to rob Barrière Lake of its traditional hunting grounds; the decision to jam
the people into the 59 acres of Rapid Lake; the handing over to outside hunters of the
animals they depended on; the many failed programs, programmed to fail, as far as I
could judge; the manifest bad faith of the federal government in its negotiations over the
Trilateral Agreement: all of these were inexcusable. So the later decision to intervene in
the governance of Barrière Lake seems to be simply a continuation of the neglect,
misunderstanding and arrogance that the feds have always shown toward this community.
I knew, liked, and admired people on both sides of the community argument. I have
found them to be a down-to-earth people with a real attachment to the land, which has
continued even against the extraordinary interference and provocations of these
I have found many of them to be repositories of the ancient bush wisdom of aboriginal
Through every possible discouragement they have clung to their language and way of
But -- is this the best that these people can expect in the way of governance? Is this the
best they can hope for in the way of financial and moral support from the federal
government, which is constitutionally responsible for their care?
Barrière Lake suffers from being remote from the cities; it is difficult for its people to get
a real hearing in the cities. And the fact that they are poor, in addition, puts them into the
category of voiceless people occupying the bottom rung of Canadian society.
And yet, the people of Barrière Lake are battling on in their effort to get the governments
involved to fulfill the many promises that have been made to them over recent decades.
They deserve the active support of everyone who cares about how Canada is governed.
Boyce Richardson is an Ottawa writer and filmmaker. His 1990 film, Blockade,
Algonquins Defend the Forest, will be screened along with a panel discussion as part of
an event at Arts Court tomorrow evening.
8. Algonquin Nation Secretariat Grand Chief Norman Young’s letter to Minister of
Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl and Laurier Riel report

9. Message from the Community
"We, the Barriere Lake traditional people have always lived under our customary laws,
which we have codified as our Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin (the Barriere
Lake Customary Governance Code). This is what our great grandparents left for us, our
children and grandchildren, and the coming generations. Our responsibility is to make
sure that our customary laws will always be respected and protected.
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.
Today, as the traditional people of our community, we are fighting to defend our
customary laws from being violated by individuals who no longer respect them, including
how we govern ourselves. We will honor what our great grandparents left us. No one will
take our customary laws and side with the federal government to gain money by
compromising our rights and interests.
Our customary laws are meant to help us live in harmony on our Lands and with each
other. It is only when individuals living in our community violate and disrespect our
customs, that the harmony is broken. Despite repeated warnings to stop, a dissident
faction has continued to violate and disrespect our customs and have broken our
community's harmony. Therefore, on March 4, 2008, the majority of our eligible
community members of Mitchikanibikok confirmed that we will not accept these
dissidents living in our community. Now the federal government is trying to impose them
on us by using the Surete du Quebec to bring them into our community.
The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec want to replace our
Customary Chief and Council because our leaders are demanding that they honour the
agreements they entered into with our First Nation.
For the federal government, that is:
The 1991 Trilateral Agreement.
The 1997 Memorandum of Mutual Intent & Global Proposal to Rebuild our Community.
The Special Provisions inserted into our Contribution Agreements until the Third Party
Manager took over our administrative affairs.
For the Government of Quebec, that is:
1998 Bilateral Agreement and the implementation of the Joint Recommendations adopted
by the Quebec negotiator, John Ciaccia, and our negotiator, Clifford Lincoln, particularly
paying our First Nation $1.5 million annually in Revenue Sharing.
The federal government is trying to impose a minority dissident group over our First
Nation in order to try and get out of their obligations under the signed agreements with
our First Nation. This is a repeat of what they tried to do to us in 1996-97."

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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