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Specialized Journalistic Services (SJS)
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°The Latin-Canadian Organization of Human Rights and Freedom of Expression
°Organización Latino-Canadiense de Derechos Humanos y Libertad de Expresión
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Governed by our own customs and not by the Indian Act: Algonquins
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake say that Canada and Quebec are orchestrating a coup using the SQ to replace their customary chief and council with a dissident group, in order to get out of signed agreements with the First Nation.
‘The Súreté du Quebec (SQ) have pepper sprayed children, pregnant mothers, and other vulnerable members without regard to their health or safety’, the Algonquins denounce. This is happening only three hours North of Ottawa. They ask for outside supporters with video cameras to monitor and witness the situation.
By Algonquin community/Seinforma Canada
Barriere Lake.- We are known as the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (also known by our Algonquin name, “Mitchikanibikok Inik”) we are a First Nation community of approximately 500 people, situated in the province of Quebec, 3 hours drive north of Ottawa, Canada.
We, the Barriere Lake traditional people have always lived under our customary laws, which we have codified as our *Mitchikanibikok
Anishinabe Onakinakewin*.(Barriere Lake Customary Governance Code). This is what our great grandparents left for us, for our children,
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, this is where we shake hands to our Brothers and Sisters and their children and to 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 back to defend our customary laws from being violated and disrespected by individuals who no longer respect our customs, including how we govern ourselves. We will honor what our great grandparents left us; nobody is going to take our customary laws and side with the federal government to gain money from our rights and interests.
What’s going on?
To All People Who Support Traditional Indigenous Peoples & Customary
Governments: This is a Call for Support and an Update on Our Situation. Our customary laws are meant so we 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 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 dressed in riot gear to force us to allow the dissident group into our community.
The Government of Canada wants to replace our Customary Chief and Council because our leaders are demanding that the federal government honour the agreements they entered into with our First Nation, which are:
• *The 1991 Trilateral Agreement.
• *The 1997 Memorandum of Mutual Intent & Global Proposal to Rebuild our
• *Manager took over our administrative affairs.
•*The Special Provisions inserted into our Contribution Agreements until the Third Party
The Government of Quebec wants to replace our Customary Chief and Council because our leaders are demanding that the Quebec government honour the 1998 Bilateral Agreement and negotiate 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.
We Need Monitors/Witnesses
We need outside supporters with video cameras to monitor and witness how the Surete du Quebec (SQ) are conducting themselves in our community.The SQ have arrested ten of our people so far for defending our community from the dissident group who is collaborating with the governments to take over our community.
The SQ have pepper sprayed children, pregnant mothers, and other vulnerable members without regard to their health or safety. The SQ have refused to take our complaints against their behavior and tactics.
If you can bring a video camera and be a monitor to witness please contact, Marylynn Poucachiche at (819) 435-2113. We will have to arrange accommodations for monitors/witnesses.
We Need Donations and Supplies
The federal Department of Indian Affairs has placed our community into what is called “Third Party Management” (TPM). This means our Customary Chief and Council have no say in how our First Nations’ administrative affairs are managed. The Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) decides how our band funds are spent.
We are trying to keep our Elementary School open on a volunteer basis, the Third Party Manager removed the certified teachers from our community on February 20, 2008, while we were trying to get negotiations started with DIA to get Algonquin language and culture into the curriculum and to have a role for our Education Committee in running the
school. We need food for breakfast and lunch program we offer to the children
who attend the school.
For SUPPLIES we need the following:
• Potatoes • White Flour • Rice • Oatmeal • Baking Powder • Lard
• Cooking Oil • Dry Cereals • Margarine • Crackers • Macaroni • Spaghetti
• Tomato Sauce • Tomato Paste • Canned Tomatoes • White Peas
• White Beans • White/Brown Suger • Salt • Pepper • Soup Base • Mustard
• Ketchup • Coffee • Tea Bags • Canned Milk 2% • Canned Goods
• Powdered Juice • Bread • Cookies/Snacks • Coffee Whitener
Other items: Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Batteries ‘AA’ Copying Paper,
Pencils, Erasers, Note Books, Colored Construction Paper, HP Printer
Cartridge # 21 and HP Printer Cartridge #56. If you can provide a cash
donation towards milk, eggs, meat, etc. please contact Marylynn
Poucachiche at (819) 423-2113.
Communicate Your Support
You can write to the following federal Ministers calling on them to stop
trying to illegally replace our leadership and honour the signed
agreements they entered into with our First Nation:
• *Prime Minister Stephan Harper
• *Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian & Northern Affairs Canada
• *Lawrence Cannon, Local Member of Parliament responsible for our
Reserve and Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
You can write to the following Quebec Ministers calling on them to stop
the federal government’s attempt to try to illegally replace our leadership
and honour the signed agreements they entered into with our First Nation:
• *Premier Jean Charest, Government of Quebec
• *Benoit Pelletier, Quebec Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
• *Claude Bechard, Quebec Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife
• *Line Beauchamp, Quebec Minister for Sustainable Development,
Environment & Parks
*To contact us please use the following:
Marylynn Poucachiche, Spokesperson Home: (819) 435-2113,
*Letter to Minister Chuck Strahl From A/Chief Benjamin Nottaway
March 10, 2008
Honourable Chuck Strahl
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
10 Wellington Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H4
Re: Andre Cote Letter of March 10, 2008*
Dear Minister Strahl:
This is to acknowledge receipt of the above noted letter from your
Quebec Regional Director General, Mr. Andre Cote.
As our Elder, Harry Wawatie informed you on February 4, 2008, there has
been no leadership change in our community. Our Elder and former
Chief, Harry Wawatie, also confirmed to you that under our customs,
*Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinagewin, *our current Customary
Council remains as follows:
• A/Chief Benjamin Nottaway
• Moise Papatie
• David Wawatie
• Jean Paul Ratt
• Jean Maurice Matchewan
As Mr. Cote’s letter acknowledges, we are governed by our own customs
and not by the *Indian Act*. Our *Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe
Onakinakewin *sets-out the procedures and process for our First Nation
to select its leadership. Our customs do not give a role for the
Department of Indian Affairs (DIAND) to decide on the composition of our
Customary Chief and Council. In fact, Mr. Cote’s letter also
acknowledges that DIAND’s role is simply to register the results of what
our First Nation has decided in regard to leadership selection.
Nevertheless and given the impact of your actions, before you take such
steps you need to act carefully. We wish to advise you that Mr. Cote is
mistaken in his belief that there has been a leadership change in our
First Nation. As Elder Wawatie’s letter of February 4, 2008, informed
you, please review the Report of Mr. Justice Rejean Paul of May 15,
2007, which was the basis upon which Mr. Cote issued his earlier letter
of May 29, 2007, recognizing our Council. There have been no changes in
circumstances since the issuance of his Report to warrant any changes in
DIAND’s previous decision.
Accordingly, we urge you to reconsider your decision. We further submit
that you ought to consider having a judicial inquiry into this matter
including the conduct of your officials within the Quebec Regional
Office, which appears to be directed at impeding our First Nation’s
efforts to get DIAND to abide by its agreements and obligations, which
are the subject of current proceedings in Federal Court. Therefore, we
do not accept Andre Cote’s decision to work with the minority dissident
faction within our First Nation, made up of supporters and employees of
DIAND’s third party manager. We consider it a violation of our customs
as codified in our *Mitchikanikbikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin*.
As was the case in 1996 when the Quebec Regional Director General made
the same mistake, be advised we will not recognize those individuals
named in Andre Cote’s letter as having any authority for our First
Nation, nor will we cooperate with them. They are not welcome in our
community.Should you decide to uphold your government’s responsibilities
and obligations under the *1991 Trilateral Agreement*, the *1997
Memorandum of Mutual Intent *and the *Special Provisions *of our previous
Contribution Agreements, we are prepared to meet with you.
We await your timely response. Sincerely,
Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway
A/Chief Benjamin Nottaway
Algonquins of Barriere Lake
Rapid Lake, Quebec J0W 2C0
Rapid Lake, Quebec, 300
Km North of Ottawa.
We, The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are extremely poor:
• *We have been marginalized onto a tiny 59-acre reserve at Rapid Lake, which is overcrowded, dusty and badly eroding.
• *Our unemployment rates are in the range of 80-90%.
• *There is a housing crisis in our community - on the average, there
are 7 persons per home, but the actual numbers go as high as 18 per house.
• *Our formal education levels are low. On February 20, 2008 the Third Party Manager removed the certified teachers from our school.
• *The incidence of diabetes is high.
*On the positive side, our community has managed to maintain our
language, customs and traditional way of life.
What Indian and Northern Affaires Canada says
“On January 29, 2008, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada confirmed to the Barriere Lake Band Council that the legal proceedings that the Algonquins of Barriere Lake had brought to Court concerning the appointment of a Third Party Manager in July 26 would be re-activated.
On January 30, 2008, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake selected, according to their Customary Selection Code, the members of the new Band Council.
On March 10, 2008, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada advised the Algonquins of Barriere Lake that in the future it would be conducting its relationship with the Band Council made up of Chief Casey Ratt and Councillors Ricky Decoursay, Donat Thusky, Roger Jerome and Wayne Papatie.”
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