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