[Please forward widely!]
This morning at 7:30am, 70 members of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake and 30 non-native supporters peacefully blockaded highway 117 in Northern Quebec, while a Christian Peacemaker Team observed the action.
The Government-backed minority faction currently in power had fed information about the blockade plans to the Quebec police, who established a significant presence before the blockade was set up. They issued threats of mass arrest, dismantled the blockades, and followed protesters down the highway in a high-speed chase until the access road to the Barriere Lake reserve, where Algonquins and their supporters are maintaining a presence.
Community spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche has been arrested for obstruction and mischief and is currently detained.
Once again, the community needs the public to make it clear right now that this treatment is unacceptable, that the Algonquins have suffered enough division at the hands of the government, and that the signed agreements need to be honoured.
On October 6th, the first peaceful blockade of Highway 117 – a tactic of last resort, after months of being ignored or dismissed by the Canadian and Quebec governments – was met with violent repression, including tear-gassing and pain compliance. In the last few weeks, forestry companies were discovered cutting new logging roads without consent from Barriere Lake’s legitimate leadership – a violation of the November 2007 ban on new forestry operations in the Trilateral territory. Despite decades of struggle and these recent developments, the community refuses to back down.
“Instead of doing the dirty work of the federal government, Quebec should implement its agreements and immediately lobby the federal government to deal fairly with our community,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson. “Charest’s brutal treatment of our community shows his government has absolutely no respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples, which should be an urgent matter of debate during the provincial election.”
The Algonquins were promising to maintain the blockade until Canada and Quebec committed in writing to honour their agreements and Canada appoints an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere Lake in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.
** What you can do right now to help: **
We need people to let the government know that they support the demands Barriere Lake has been fighting for for decades.
Please take 15 minutes to phone or fax a letter, see below for a model letter, or modify and send a sample letter.
You can do that here:.http://barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post.html
* Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada ( fax: 613-941-6900 )
* Lawrence Cannon, Transportation Minister and MP for Pontiac ( 613 992-2940 Fax: 613 944-9376 )
* Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs ( 819 997-0002 Fax: 819 953-4941 )
Use some of the following points (along with your own):
* Release Marylynn Poucachiche and drop all charges
* The government should immediately cease the use of police repression in lieu of negotiators
* The Federal and Provincial government should honor the agreements they’ve signed with Barriere Lake
* Express support for the Barriere Lake community’s struggle for the right to choose its own leadership
* The federal government should immediately stop interfering in Barriere Lake’s internal affairs
** More information: **
Demands, and a list of groups that have endorsed them:
Video of the October 6th blockade: http://blip.tv/file/1391794
A quick visual introduction to the community:
More information on how to support the Barriere Lake Algonquins:
Sample Letter (to sign and fax)
Re: Algonquins of Barriere Lake
I am writing to you regarding the situation of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
First of all, I strongly condemn the use of a police riot squad on October 6, 2008, during a peaceful protest of Algonquin families on Highway 117.
I have seen the disturbing video footage of Algonquin families, including children and elders, being tear-gassed and physically assaulted by the Quebec police for merely asking that duly signed agreements entered into with their First Nation by both the federal and Quebec governments be honoured and that they be permitted to resolve their leadership issues internally without federal interference.
This is clearly a political matter and should be resolved through the use of good faith negotiations not with a police riot squad tear-gassing and physically assaulting peacefully protesting Algonquin families.
I understand the anger and frustration of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake at the unacceptable delays in implementing the duly signed agreements with the federal and Quebec governments.
This will confirm that I fully support the following demands made by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake:
1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection 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 sharing.
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.
I strongly encourage both of your governments to honour the signed agreements made with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and name negotiators to quickly identify and resolve the differences between the First Nation and your governments.
In closing, you can be sure I will be closely watching the Barriere Lake situation and will not accept police violence and repression as a negotiating tactic by your respective governments.
Collectif de Solidarité Lac Barrière