Algonquin Chief imprisoned for two months: Quebec criminalizes Barriere Lake Algonquins for peaceful protest, ignores signed agreements

December 11, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quebec judge imprisons Algonquin Chief for two months for peaceful protest: Crown asks for one year to send “clear message” to impoverished community

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / – On Thursday December 4th a Quebec judge sentenced Barriere Lake Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway to forty-five days in jail, in addition to fifteen already served in pre-trial detention, for participating in peaceful blockades intended to draw attention to violations of Barriere Lake’s rights by the Canadian and Quebec governments.

Barriere Lake has been demanding that Canada and Quebec honour signed agreements and that Canada appoint an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in accordance with Barriere Lake’s Customary Governance Code.

“It’s shameful that the government of Quebec would rather throw me in jail than fulfill their legal obligations by implementing signed agreements,” said Acting Chief Nottaway, a father of six who passed his twenty-eighth birthday in jail last Thursday. “Meanwhile, the Government of Canada continues to interfere in our internal affairs while trying to wash its hands of responsibility for this situation.”

Nottaway was charged with three counts of mischief and breach of conditions stemming from March blockades on Barriere Lake’s access road and a November blockade on highway 117 outside the community’s reserve in Northern Quebec. Another blockade in October was violently dismantled by Quebec riot police, who used tear-gas on a crowd that included Elders, youth, and children. More than 40 members of the community of 450 have been charged for these actions.

“Quebec has now joined the company of Ontario, which put the leaders of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation behind bars for peaceful protest. It seems like the provinces’ preferred method for dealing with our rights is to use the police and the courts to punish us until we forget about them,” said Marylynn Poucachiche, a community spokesperson who was arrested during the November blockade.

Crown Attorney France Deschamps asked Judge Jules Barriere for a sentence of 12 months, saying a “clear message” was required “to make sure Nottaway has no desire to do this again, and to discourage the group – because his supporters are waiting to hear what happens here.” Judge Barriere noted that the Crown’s request was “partly illegal,” as 6 months is the maximum possible sentence for summary convictions. But he agreed with Deschamps that a prison sentence was necessary, saying it was “important to pass a clear message to the community.”

The only message the Canadian and Quebec governments are sending is that they are willing to criminalize our community and split apart our families in order to avoid implementing precedent-setting agreements and respecting our leadership customs,” added Nottaway.

Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral agreement in 1998, but has stalled despite the 2006 recommendations of two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, that the agreement be implemented.

On March 10th, 2008, the Canadian government rescinded recognition of Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council and recognized individuals from a minority faction whom the Barriere Lake Elder’s Council says were not selected in accordance with their Customary Governance Code. On March 2nd and 3rd, community members had set up blockades on their access road to prevent members of this minority faction from entering the reservation, anticipating the Canadian government would try to illegally interfere in Barriere Lake’s internal customary governance for the third time in 12 years.

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court Judge Rejean Paul issued a report that concluded that the current faction recognized by the federal government was a “small minority” that “didn’t respect the Customary Governance Code” in an alleged leadership selection in 2006 [1]. The federal government recognized this minority faction after they conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, even though an observer’s report the government relied on stated there was no “guarantee” that the Customary Governance Code was respected [2].

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council.

-30-

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2171

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2113

Notes

[1] http://web.resist.ca/~barrierelakesolidarity/resources/Rapport_du_Juge_Paul-versionANGLAISEcomplete.doc, pg 26-27
[2] http://web.resist.ca/~barrierelakesolidarity/resources/Riel_Translation_Letter_2.doc , pg 2

Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière
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www.solidaritelacbarriere.blogspot.com
barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com

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Naomi Klein speaking in Toronto at Bloor Cinema, September 29th

August 26, 2008
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OPIRG – Toronto Presents:

Naomi Klein
on the SHOCK DOCTRINE: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Monday, September 29th, 2008
Bloor Cinema: 506 Bloor St. W, Toronto
6:30 pm
Tickets are $8.00 in advance, $10 at the door

Tickets Available starting August 26th at:

  • Toronto Women’s Bookstore: 73 Harbord St.
  • OPIRG – Toronto Office: 563 Spadina Ave.
  • University of Toronto Students’ Union Office: 12 Hart House Circle
  • University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union Office: 3359 Mississauga Rd. N.

**All proceeds going to support the communities of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and the Algonquins of Barriere Lake

Bestselling Writer, award winning Journalist and Filmmaker Naomi Klein is speaking in Toronto on Monday, September 29th on the release of her new book: “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”.

In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world– through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries. (www.naomiklein.org)

Contact: OPIRG – Toronto: www.opirguoft.org / opirg.toronto@utoronto.ca / 416-978-7770
For information on
Tyendinaga Support Committee: http://www.ocap.ca/supporttmt
Barriere Lake Solidarity: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/
Co-Sponsored By: Toronto Women’s Bookstore, UTSU, UTMSU, CUPE 1281, Arts and Science Students’ Union
**To become a co-sponsor please contact OPIRG

Deputy Minister Wernick gives Algonquins the slip, disparages efforts to end Indian Affairs’ illegal meddling in their governance

August 12, 2008

IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs gives Barriere Lake Algonquins the slip, disparages their efforts to end Indian Affairs’ illegal meddling in their governance

Ottawa, ON / – On Friday, August 8, Algonquins from Barriere Lake and their supporters protested at the home of Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs Michael Wernick. They hoped a delegation could meet with the Deputy Minister, but he slipped out of his house just before the Algonquins arrived and told a journalist he was “disappointed” by the Algonquin’s tactics.

“He’s disappointed we were in front of his house,” says Marylynn Poucachiche, a Barriere Lake spokesperson. “Compare that to our disappointment about Indian Affairs’ illegal meddling in our internal affairs and their violation of our constitutionally-protected rights to customary governance.”

“Deputy Minister Wernick shouldn’t feel disappointed,” added Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for Barriere Lake. “He should feel ashamed that he allows this behaviour of Indian Affairs to continue.”

The Barriere Lake Algonquins are demanding that the Government of Canada revoke its illegal decision of March 10, 2008, to recognize as Chief and Council members of a minority faction not selected according to Barriere Lake’s customs nor supported by a majority of the community, and to respect the outcome of a new leadership selection process in accordance with Barriere Lake’s Customary Governance Code.

Instead of meeting Barriere Lake’s demands, Pierre Nepton, the Associate Director of the Quebec Regional Office of Indian Affairs, has suggested further violating their leadership customs by imposing an Indian Act electoral governance system on the community, which would be a direct violation of Barriere Lake’s constitutionally-protected Aboriginal Rights.

The Algonquins also want the Government to uphold signed agreements with the community, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development, conservation, and resource co-management process praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada walked away from the agreement in 2001.

Last month, members of Barriere Lake gathered for multi-day protests outside the office of Minister Lawrence Cannon and the Department of Indian Affairs in Gatineau.

“We’ll leave politicians and bureaucrats alone when the Department of Indian Affairs treats our community fairly, honours its agreements, and stays out of our business,” concluded Matchewan. “Until then, we’re not going to stop protesting.”

– 30 –

Photos of the action (for tif files, please get in touch): http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2008/05/occupation-barriere-lake-algonquins-in.html

Media Contacts:

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: (819) 435 – 2142

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake youth spokesperson: (819) 435 – 2142


For background see
a submission to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2008/04/canada-quebec-condemned-before-un.html

Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière

*******************************************
www.solidaritelacbarriere.blogspot.com
barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.com