PINNED POST: Hi, here’s a short (3m45s) video message from me in 2013 explaining a bit about what EquitableEducation.ca is about, and why you might to subscribe to my (low-traffic) email updates.
PINNED POST: Hi, here’s a short (3m45s) video message from me in 2013 explaining a bit about what EquitableEducation.ca is about, and why you might to subscribe to my (low-traffic) email updates.
Includes: 3min VIDEO | ARTICLE with PDF | WEB LINKS | 93min VIDEO/PLAYLIST of speakers & music — Community efforts to protect the Chaudiere Falls site in Ottawa from the “Zibi” condo plans of Windmill Development Group, just upriver from Canada’s Parliament Buildings. This historic sacred / cultural site on the Ottawa River (Kichi Zibi) is also known as Asinabka and/or Akikodjiwan in Anishinaabemowiin, the Algonquin language (‘Zibi’ is the Algonquin name for river – ‘Kichi Zibi’ means ‘Great (or Big) River’).
This article below was published the morning of the “It IS Sacred” walk led by Algonquin Grandmothers and Elders, and references two June op-eds (opinion pieces) published in the Ottawa Citizen: “Zibi development an exercise in reconciliation with First Nations” by Josée Bourgeouis (a member of Zibi’s Memengweshii Indigenous Advisory Council), and “Zibi Project will show whether indigenous people have a real say in development” by Maurice Switzer. Two additional op-eds have been published in the Citizen since: “The Algonquin Nation demands for Chaudiere Falls” by Harry St. Denis (Chief of the Algonquin Wolf Lake First Nation), and “When condos speak louder than words, and the battle for Chaudière Falls” by Douglas Cardinal.
The printable PDF is a two-page document on standard sized paper (8.5×11) — for use as a one-page double-sided handout — of the article, as well as the following web and video links.
More writing & multi-media can also be found on this site:
By Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca | June 17, 2016
Originally published on IntercontinentalCry.org and rabble.ca
“An exercise in reconciliation” is how the Ottawa Citizen newspaper title describes the “Zibi” development project — timed precisely to counter today’s “It Is Sacred” walk in honour of the at-risk sacred site slated for the development.
But what messages should the general public really be exposed to in order to foster a helpful understanding of this situation?
The Algonquin Grandmothers and Elders leading the walk are doing so with a stated desire to bring unity and protection for their sacred site located at the Chaudière Falls on the Ottawa River just over a kilometre from the Parliament buildings.
Josée Bourgeois of the developers’ Memengweshii Indigenous advisory council opens her Citizen opinion piece by declaring her concerns about the “attacks launched” against the planned development project.
Who is attacking who may depend upon your perspective. Perhaps it is Indigenous rights and their proponents that are being attacked here?
Nine out of the 10 federally recognized Algonquin Chiefs have publicly declared their unified intention to protect Akikodjiwan, the sacred site, from the development — to assert their Indigenous rights for this special site on their unceded territory — but Bourgeois only mentions one Chief in her piece, that of her community of Pikwakanagan, who has been the only one supporting the development project.
She writes, apparently referencing the sacred walk, “These attacks endorse or rely on self-proclaimed Elders and Kokums (grandmothers in the prophetical sense) in order to create opposition to Zibi, a project mixing condos, office and retail space …”
She doesn’t explicitly refer to the area as being sacred — her description is of a historical gathering place for portages, where “in more recent years” the one island not slated for development has become a place of “celebration and spirituality” (referring to Victoria Island, where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence held her hunger strike).
This is a bit different than the resolutions brought forward by Algonquin Chiefs and passed by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN and AFN-Quebec&Labrador) demanding the return of the site to Algonquin stewardship that clearly state, “The Akikodjiwan (Chaudière) waterfalls and the adjacent waterfront and islands are a sacred area for all Algonquin Peoples,” and the archeology research published late last year that had researcher Randy Boswell describing how, “The newly confirmed location of this [5,000 years old] cemetery, a natural canoe landing that marked one end of a well-worn portage route around Chaudière Falls, only deepens the symbolic significance of that great cataract, an enduringly important spiritual site for First Nations and a natural wonder seen as second only to Niagara Falls by early European explorers.”
The concept of “collaborative consent” is what Bourgeois uses to describe the “spirit” of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), drawing upon terminology from former AFN grand chief and now oil company collaborator Phil Fontaine, and she urges “the Algonquin Anishinabe people who genuinely care about the site and want to have a say in how it is developed to sit at the table with us or at least find out how Zibi can help realize their goals.”
“Zibi” was Windmill Development Inc’s choice for the name of their condo/business project, an Algonquin word for river selected in a competition without proper protocol through Algonquin communities (no Algonquins were on hand for the company’s public naming event).
What “goals” can this commercial development project realize for those who don’t want commercial development on their sacred site?
In terms of “sitting at the table,” the majority of the Algonquin Chiefs have all along been asking for real consultation: not to meet with the developers, but for discussions with the government, who have the responsibility to honour the Canadian Constitution and the UNDRIP, including FPIC (Free, Prior, and Informed Consent).
Unfortunately, governments of all levels have mostly ignored — and continue to ignore — these requests for communication, discussion, and consultation.
As Maurice Switzer noted in a previous Ottawa Citizen op-ed where he described the “Zibi” project as a “litmus test” of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promises to improve the country’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples:
“‘We are committed to sitting down early, at the earliest possible moment, on every single thing that will affect indigenous people in Canada,’ [Indigenous Affairs minister] Carolyn Bennett told a CBC interviewer in February, adding her belief that it is ‘hugely important’ that all parliamentarians, government departments, provinces, territories, mayors and municipalities understand this approach.”
But Bennett has yet to meet with the nine Algonquin chiefs about this issue, even though the communications to her INAC office on this issue pre-date her taking the minister-ship last October, and it has been half a year since the AFN-QL and AFN passed their resolutions calling for government action — hopefully the wait will not be too much longer before the “earliest possible moment” she committed to is acted upon.
Situating the situation
This site, Akikodjiwan, is something of a microcosm for the colonial history of the country:
What are we respecting?
Bourgeois ends her piece by saying, “One way or another, I hope and work for peace and respect – within our Nation, and with our settler friends and partners.”
Hopefully the government — and all Canadians, including the developers — will agree, and this will mark a turn in the course of our country’s history, with government actively ensuring Indigenous rights are respected instead of pretending not to notice and/or participating themselves in the violation of these Rights. How can we have peace and respect otherwise?
The Algonquin Chiefs cite four different sections of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples — articles 11, 12, 25, and 32 — that they feel apply in this situation. You can look up what these say if you aren’t familiar with them, and then decide for yourself if you think the Chiefs are correct in their assertions. And if so, what is a good way forward at this point?
Many people may instead end up with the impression that the proposed development is a “no questions needed” model of reconciliation that should be celebrated, rather than seeing the opportunity to really deal with some of the deepest issues of Canada’s colonial past/present — thus allowing for new possibilities of different, more reconciled and hopeful futures.
Author: Greg Macdougall has been involved with Indigenous solidarity work in and around Ottawa since 2008, around the time he helped co-found the grassroots group Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO). His website is EquitableEducation.ca
Topics include ‘zero rating’ and net neutrality; state surveillance; public dissatisfaction with Facebook and creating alternatives; and how the internet, capitalism, communications and the link to broader struggles for rights, justice and humanity.Anja Kovacs directs the Internet Democracy Project in Delhi, India, which works for an Internet that supports free speech, democracy and social justice in India and beyond.
Interview by Greg Macdougall of EquitableEducation.ca, from Monday August 8th, the first full day of the World Forum on Free Media in Montreal, in conjunciton with the World Social Forum happening Aug 9-14.
Key chronology / issues discussed in interview:
RELATED CONTENT FROM GREG MACDOUGALL / EQUITABLEEDUCATION.CA
A half-hour interview with Idil, board chair of Across Boundaries mental health centre in Toronto, on race and mental health issues within the contexts of killings by police, incarceration, and mental health diagnosis and treatment.
Main topics covered:
Samples: CBC Ottawa’s Idil Mussa; Brand Nubian; The Coup ft. Dead Prez; Goodie Mob.
Request: Looking for someone who would like to transcribe this interview – if that is you, please contact me at: greg(at)equitableeducation(.)ca
Links directly related to this interview:
Related Content from Greg Macdougall / EquitableEducation.ca
Individual recordings of eleven of the rally speakers sharing personal stories, providing context, expressing outrage and calling for change, in light of the Jian Ghomeshi verdict.
Approximately 200 people attended the event on March 25, rallying at the Ottawa courthouse and then marching to Parliament Hill.
Recordings below – recorded and produced by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEduation.ca – no reuse or republication without explicit consent.
Unfortunately the audio quality may not the best, in some segments moreso than others.
Some services available around issues of sexual assault and abuse are listed at these sites:
Sexual Assault Support Centre (Ottawa) resource directory
Carleton University campus and community resource directory
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres directory
Canadian Women’s Health Network listing of national rape crisis centres
Rose Ekins (recording begins mid-way through speech) – mp3 file
Jasper Ignatius, independent trans activist and writer. Jasper began by calling out cissexism and transmisogyny (having consulted a friend who experiences transmisogyny beforehand, as they do not) in the language of a previous speaker, and drawing attention to the harms of those actions. Jasper then spoke about their experience in a relationship where they were coerced into sex almost daily (by someone who worked in Carleton Safety) and how they only recently have come to terms with the fact that they experienced rape. Jasper also talked about what consent is, and the conditions in which a “yes” is really a “yes”. Jasper’s articles on Medium.com. – mp3 file
Leah Gazan, Red Sky Woman – mp3 file
Event organizers (mp3 file):
Amina Ghadieh is a 21 year-old student at the University of Ottawa, and the head organizer for this event. They are a social justice advocate, an artist, and a writer. Their speech focused on their lived experiences with sexual assault and the frustrations that arise when navigating the Canadian justice system.
Samantha is a charismatic leader, a criminology and communications student and a social justice advocate whose focus is set on dismantling systems of oppression surrounding women of colour. Her main goal is to show solidarity and respect, and give survivors a platform to safely share their experiences. She co-organized this protest and mainly helped with the promo as she has a strong presence on social media.
Jenn Jefferys – mp3 file
Local activist Cameron Jette, 18, spoke about their experience of childhood rape and about the importance of educating our children and youth on consent and sexual violence. – mp3 file
Jenna is the administrative coordinator at the Womyn’s Centre at Carleton University. You can find her online through the Feminist Twins handle on Facebook and Twitter. Jenna is into (un)learning and sharing stories. – Text of speech – mp3 file
The same day this post was published, Shameless magazine posted the text of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape’s #WeBelieveSurvivors speech given at the Black Lives Matter Toronto Tent City (#BLMTOtentcity) in front of Toronto Police Headquarters on the evening of the Ghomeshi verdict, after the Toronto rally had marched there from the original gathering place in front of the courthouse.
The article written at the time of this interview is below, but the interview audio itself has not been published until now.
Following the article, is the text of the December 2015 open letter from Wolverine to Canada’s Prime Minister and Minister of Justice calling for a public inquiry to address what happened around Gustafsen Lake.
Wolverine interviewed by Greg Macdougall in Waterloo ON, 2002 (17min, mp3 file)
Native elder, youth talk of defending their land in B.C.
by Greg Macdougall, November 29 2002
Published in University of Waterloo Imprint student newspaper
How many times do you get to hear a speaker talk about being chased by a Canadian armoured personnel carrier, coming within four feet of being crushed and then shooting out the hydraulics with an AK-47 to take away the steering?
A few dozen UW students recently took advantage of the opportunity when William “Wolverine” Ignace and Nicole Manuel spoke in Waterloo on Tuesday, November 19. They’re from Secwepemc Nation near Kamloops B.C. and are raising awareness of the fight to protect their homeland from being further destroyed in the illegal expansion of the Sun Peaks ski resort. They said neither the provincial nor federal governments will enforce the laws that protect the Native peoples’ land rights.
The dispute was at the centre of the 1995 Gustafsen Lake standoff, when over 400 RCMP and Canadian army personnel employed land mines, concussion grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition to stop the Native people’s attempts to defend their land. It was during that time that the 63-year old Wolverine found himself in combat with the Canadian army and he spent the next five years in jail for his participation.
But the two had much more to talk about. Twenty-five-year-old Manuel spoke of the leadership she and others have received from their elders, including Wolverine. Although his formal education only went to grade seven, he has done legal research into the Native peoples’ land rights and represented himself in the courts, right up to the top court in the country. He pointed to the key 1995 dismissal of their case by the Supreme Court that didn’t rule on the legal points that Wolverine contends stand firmly in favour of the Secwepemc people.
He says that the Secwepemc should have their dispute with the Canadian government heard by a third-party adjucator, because that is the only way to avoid the conflict-of-interest that any Canadian court or judge has in hearing the case. He stated that First Nations are allies with the Queen, not subjects to her.
In his research, he’s found that “there’s only six times in North American history that the Native people’s title and rights have been discussed in law” and they show the right to third-party adjucation. He listed them as 1704, the Mohegan people versus Connecticut; the appeal of that case in 1740; the Royal Proclamation of 1763; the conclusion of the Mohegan case in 1773; the Duty of Disallowance in 1875 and the 1982 Constitution.
According to Wolverine, Canada is a corrupt country — the politicians, lawyers, judges, media — “right from the bottom up. This is the reason why we’ll never get a fair ruling, not in this country. We’ve never had justice since Confederation; we’re still waiting.”
However, there is one legal avenue left: preventing an agreement between Canada and the United States on softwood lumber. “We can destroy the economy of Canada. Maybe that’s what it takes for people to realize what is wrong with this country.
“Because they never dealt with the land issue, all the resources that are removed off of our territories, it’s all stolen goods.” He said that Canada challenged this all the way to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, but lost.
Wolverine said he has two goals: justice and coexistence.
The tour he and Manuel are doing now is criss-crossing Eastern Canada; after visiting Concordia University, students there picketed two Montreal travel agencies, convincing them to cancel tours to Sun Peaks. Waterloo students at the talk were discussing doing a similar thing here.
Note: this article was also included in the Aboriginal Understanding booklet/zine published in 2011
Sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson, on December 30 2015
Dear Mr. Trudeau,
My name is Wolverine. I am also known as William Jones Ignace. I am an 83-year-old father, grandfather and great grandfather, and an Elder of the Secwepemc nation in what is called British Columbia. I am a farmer. This past summer I cultivated eight acres of organic food to nourish the people in my nation and other nations as well. I am a long time defender of the inherent jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples to steward our traditional homelands.
Today I am writing to you to request that you initiate a federal public inquiry into the events surrounding the month long standoff at Ts’Peten (Gustafsen Lake), British Columbia in 1995, an event which cast a deep shadow on the relationship between the Canadian government and Indigenous nations, which to this day has not been adequately investigated.
In 1995, after a long history of peaceful attempts to have Secwepemc sovereignty respected, Indigenous people from the Secewpemc nation and their supporters took a stand on sacred Sundance lands at Ts’Peten, a.k.a. Gustafsen Lake. The incident began after a local white rancher, Lyle James began demanding that the sacred Secwepemc Sundance Camp leave land to which he claimed ownership. Approximately 24 Sundancers set up camp to defend Ts’Peten. I was one of those people.
Beginning in August 1995, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) surrounded the Ts’Peten Defenders. Over the next month police, politicians, and media escalated the situation to make the siege the most expensive and largest domestic military operation in Canada’s history: armoured personnel carriers, .50 calibre machine guns, land mines, and an astonishing 77,000 rounds of ammunition were directed at the land defenders. In the course of the standoff, RCMP shot at unarmed people and at people in negotiated no-shoot zones. RCMP Superintendent Murray Johnston expressed the belief that a resolution to the standoff would “require the killing” of the defenders, including myself. Although this thankfully did not come to be, the unjust and violent actions carried out against the Secwepemc people during the siege remains strong in our memories to this day.
Despite the 20 years that have passed since the Ts’Peten standoff, the core issues that so forcefully clashed against each other remain at the forefront of the hearts and minds of Indigenous people. That is our right to self-determination, autonomy and protection from the dispossession of our lands and territories. According to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Aboriginal Title to land exists inherently and will continue to exist until it has been ceded by treaty with the Crown. The land on which the Ts’Peten standoff occurred was, and remains to this day, unceded territory. The land at Ts’Peten was never handed over by the Secwepemc Nation to Canadian control through treaty or otherwise, and is therefore land that cannot have been sold to settlers by the Canadian or British Columbian governments. The use of Canadian paramilitary forces against the people of the Secwepemc nation asserting our inherent jurisdiction and title over our own territories therefore is a serious abrogation of the Nation to Nation relationship between the Canadian government and the Secwepemc Nation.
This abrogation has yet to be properly investigated, and remains one of the largest stains on relations between Indigenous nations and the Canadian state. A public federal inquiry is long overdue into the actions of the RCMP, the Canadian government and the provincial government of British Columbia.
In recent months, Mr. Trudeau, you have called for a renewed Nation to Nation relationship with Indigenous nations, promising a new era of recognition, rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. According to that Declaration, Indigenous peoples have the right to be safe from being forcibly removed from their lands and territories. Even now, aggressive resource extraction and the destruction it inevitably brings regularly occurs on Indigenous lands without the consent of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous lands which, according to the very agreements that founded the nation of Canada, do not belong to Canada to be given away without the free prior and informed consent of the Indigenous people of those lands who never relinquished their rights. In order to build this Nation to Nation relationship, Indigenous peoples must know that they can continue to pursue peaceful processes for protecting their sovereignty, without the threat of state sanctioned violence being used against them. The use of police and RCMP intimidation and force as a method to settle land claims in favour of the Canadian national and provincial governments is antithetical to the creation of a healthy and just partnership between nations. If Indigenous people are prevented from asserting their rights to sovereignty, true reconciliation cannot occur.
The time has come to honour your commitment to Indigenous people, and to a reconciliation between our nations. An inquiry into the Ts’Peten standoff would demonstrate that the Canadian government is truly committed to a new era of respectful, Nation to Nation relationships in which the wrongs of the past are thoroughly understood and acknowledged, ensuring that threats, intimidation, defamation and force are never again used against Indigenous people in Canada.
Wolverine, William Jones Ignace
Interview with policy analyst and advisor with the Algonquin Nation Secretariat, Russell Diabo, on the ongoing Algonquin land claim for Eastern Ontario. Audio interview aired last year on CKCU 93.1FM OPIRG Roots Radio (mp3 file here) with transcript below – interviewed by Greg Macdougall.
Excerpts of this interview included as part of a printable 2-page pdf handout about the land claim.
Okay, thanks. And if you could just summarize, so about the eastern Ontario Algonquin land claim, just summarize what’s happening and where that’s at now.
In the mid-1980s, Pikwakanagan, also known as Golden Lake, submitted a land claim to a large part of eastern Ontario that basically runs from Hawkesbury to North Bay. They did that without the agreement of the other Algonquin First Nations, and that claim was being treated as a comprehensive [land] claim, although the government says that the land was extinguished through the Williams Treaty in the 1920s.
Nevertheless, in 1991, the Ontario government accepted the Golden Lake claim for negotiation, and in 1992 the federal government accepted it for negotiation. And after that, they created this policy fiction called the ‘Algonquins of Ontario’, because the Algonquin Nation was never split – the provinces were carved out of the Algonquin Nation territory, which pre-existed Ontario and Quebec.
Now they’re saying there’s this Algonquins of Ontario that have this land claim. they’ve excluded the other communities who are headquartered on the Quebec side, and the issue is about the interests that the Algonquins on the Quebec side have in Ontario.
But also Golden Lake has lands in Quebec as well, traditionally that they’re connected to. And for many years they were also considered ‘Quebec Indians’, Golden Lake, because they came from Lake of Two Mountains, or Oka, and for many years there was a fund for the Indians of Quebec and that paid for a lot of the services and that, that Golden Lake were getting. So it’s ironic that they’re now calling them the Algonquins of Ontario when they were originally considered Quebec Indians.
And Algonquins of Ontario is not only Golden Lake, they’ve brought in more people as well?
Yes, so Pikwakanagan, looking at expanding – as I understand it – the land and cash portions of a final settlement, wanted to expand the numbers, so they asked for anybody they could trace their ancestry to a number of petitions that were made by Algonquins in the 1800s. So any individual that was on that list, if they could trace some connection to them genealogically, then they could be part of the negotiations.
But our understanding is they’ve gone on to create a registration system in isolation from the other Algonquin communities, and that Algonquin registry system that they’ve set up under the so-called Algonquins of Ontario process, will establish who beneficiaries are under any kind of final settlement, and will have an impact on other Algonquins. So, other Algonquins haven’t had any say in this registration system, it’s something that the governments and Golden Lake have created.
And, so you’ve been saying this has been going on a while now, like over two decades now.
Well like I said, it was in 1991 that Ontario agreed to negotiate, and Canada in 1992, so it’s been going on since 1992.
And through this they’ve … I know you’re very big into explaining the whole comprehensive [land] claims process with Canada, but they [the Algonquins of Ontario] have been borrowing money …
So far they’ve borrowed 18 and a half million dollars and counting, because they’re nowhere near settling. They’re not even at the agreement-in-principle stage, they have something called a draft preliminary agreement-in-principle that they’re supposed to have a referendum on – which is unusual, usually in these negotiations, they don’t usually have a referendum until maybe an agreement-in-principle stage or a final agreement, certainly a final agreement. But this is called a preliminary draft agreement-in-principle, so it’s pretty unusual, even that being so tentative.
Okay. Is that where it’s talking about 300 million dollars and 1-point-something percent of the land?
Yes, there’s a number of … the highlights of the Algonquins of Ontario preliminary draft agreement-in-principle says that there will be a fund if they reach a final agreement. I mean that’s the whole point, is that this is like, it sets out the principles, and the details have to be worked out in the final agreement. So the 300 million dollar fund, and they’re doing a land selection process, trying to pick the best lands in eastern Ontario, but they’re picking lands that other Algonquin First Nations have title and rights to as well. And many of these people, who have been registered as Algonquins – like six to eight thousand of them – many of them will likely not be able to meet the legal standard of being Aboriginal title holders, yet in this process they get to extinguish title, through the process.
And when you mention extinguishing title, you were mentioning the Supreme Court basically said there’s two ways: you can either negotiate, and then through negotiation you’re extinguishing the rights …
In June 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada issued the Tsilhqot’in decision, otherwise known as the William decision. In there they reaffirmed the legal principles in the previous Delgamuukw decision of the Supreme Court, where they said Aboriginal title means the right to determine the purposes to which the land would be used – it’s a property right, there’s an economic component to it – so this Tsilhqot’in case basically reaffirmed all of that, including the duty to consult and accommodate at the assertion stage, because they’re saying there’s two stages of Aboriginal title: one is groups who are asserting Aboriginal title, which is most of the groups, including the Algonquin First Nations I work with; and in order to establish Aboriginal title, the Supreme Court in the Tsilhqot’in case said you either have to go seek a court declaration, which means you have to have basically millions of dollars worth of research and money to sustain the court challenge, and … or you negotiate, and the only way to negotiate is through the existing comprehensive claims policy of the federal government, which requires extinguishment of Aboriginal title, not recognition – plus you have to borrow money, there’s a whole bunch of problems with it: third party interests take more priority, they want a release from past infringements or alienations of land, they don’t compensate for that, but they want a sign-off by the First Nations, so there’s a whole bunch of problems with that policy.
And you were talking about the Algonquin communities you’re working with, are working on asserting title and rights.
They’re at the stage of asserting title and rights, and in January 2013 they submitted what’s called a Statement of Asserted Rights and Title, for the three communities, and it wasn’t a comprehensive claim or Aboriginal title claim just yet/ It was presented to the crown governments, Ontario Quebec and Canada, to push for a formal consultation protocol, like the Haida decision says, that you have to give notice to the crown governments on the nature of the rights you’re asserting and where you’re asserting them. So they basically gave a summary of evidence and a map to the governments and said ‘ok we’re asserting title and rights over this territory’. And the governments ignored that, and they’ve continued, where there’s overlap with the Algonquins of Ontario, they’ve continued to negotiate with them and ignore the other Algonquin First Nations, certainly the three that I work with.
What three are those?
That would be the Wolf Lake First Nation, Timiskaming First Nation, and the Eagle Village First Nation.
So where does that go, if the governments are ignoring this assertion on land that’s being negotiated separately?
Well, they have the court decision to deal with, so they either have to consider legal action or political action or both. Those are the options they have in front of them. Right now they’re pushing the governments for consultation, formal consultation processes, to consult and accommodate on any development of lands or natural resources within their Aboriginal title territories. So that’s what they’re looking for right now.
So they’re engaging Quebec, they just signed a memorandum of understanding between the three communities on how they’re going to deal with consultations from the Crown governments, and they’re pushing Quebec for an agreement, an MOU – memorandum of understanding, and consultation – and they want one from Ontario as well, and one from Canada in areas where federal things like the Energy East project, the pipeline going through their territories. And also there’s dams up there. And then there’s also things like environmental assessments of a proposed rare earth mine, other things that have some federal areas of jurisdiction in there too.
~~~~ ‘break’ ~~~~
And the other community you mentioned was Barriere Lake, and they’ve taken a different approach to land title or rights or …
Well the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are part of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the tribal council I work with, and they entered into a series of agreements with Canada and Quebec that were outside of the claims process. The first one was the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, which basically is a resource management agreement that agreed that there’d be an integrated resource management plan prepared for forests and wildlife over ten thousand square kilometres of their territory, and in 1998 they signed another agreement with Quebec, a Bilateral Agreement, on how they would implement the first agreement. But in there, Quebec also agreed to negotiate co-management revenue sharing, and now Quebec is telling them that they’ll negotiate everything except for revenue sharing – so in effect they want to breach that part of the agreement, because they did mandate John Ciaccia to negotiate for them, he was a former cabinet minister of Quebec, and he recommended that Barriere Lake should get a million and a half a year in annual contributions for the exploitation of resources off their Trilateral Agreement territory. But Quebec doesn’t seem to want to include that in the negotiations, according to the correspondence they’ve received from the government.
And my understanding, just to be clear, is that that agreement wasn’t giving up any rights.
No, that agreement had nothing to do with giving up title and rights. In fact, it was based on the Bruntland report – in 1987 there was a United Nations [World Commission] report on environment and development, and there were a number of recommendations in there that Barriere Lake took up. One was it said that Indigenous people should have a decisive voice in resource management decisions that affect them, the other one was this concept of sustainable development, of making sure that resource development occurs in a sustainable way, and the other one was conservation strategies – they wanted a conservation strategy applied to their territory. In the course of negotiating with the government of Quebec, and Canada, that turned in to the development of an integrated resource management plan based on the principles of conservation and sustainable development.
So, that was part of the negotiation process, but it was more based on promoting sustainable development of the territory and putting some controls over forestry instead of having clear-cuts, and they’re also affected by ongoing flooding from reservoirs, the Cabonga and Dozois reservoirs, which are part of the Hydro Quebec system, where Quebec’s making money off of that. Basically, there’s about a hundred million a year in resource development coming off Barriere Lake’s territory, and they don’t get one cent, so that’s why they’re wanting revenue sharing. And they want to have co-management, to have a say in how logging’s done, and how wildlife management occurs in their territory.
There’s been a small group in the community that’s been very vocal right from the beginning, that haven’t agreed with that – they wanted everything shut down. But the community talked about that at the beginning, and they realized that they… there’s many Quebecers that get jobs up there from forestry, so they talked about three options: no logging, which they knew they’d be fighting the towns of Maniwaki and Mont-Laurier and Val d’Or where these workers come from and the mills are; the second one was do nothing, just let Quebec pass laws and log their territory; and the third option they talked about was controlled logging, and that’s what they chose and that’s what became the Trilateral Agreement, was a way to control logging up there, to protect the Algonquin sites, cultural sites, and environmental areas.
But the government has not liked that agreement after signing it, in fact Canada pulled out of it in 2001 – Robert Nault was the minister [of INAC, now AANDC] then under Jean Chretien, they breached the agreement by walking away. So in 2002, Quebec picked up the process and covered the costs that the federal government was supposed to cover, and that process continued until about 2006, when John Ciaccia, the Quebec representative, and Clifford Lincoln, the Algonquin representative, issued a report of joint recommendations that included co-management and revenue sharing.
The government sat on that, those recommendations of the report, and instead Canada and Quebec started manipulating the internal affairs of the community, the governance, promoting factions, and they were trying to kill off those agreements. And for a while the community conflict over leadership distracted them from dealing with making sure these agreements were being honoured. But they came together about four years ago – they were forced from a customary [governance] system into an Indian Act electoral system, so they’ve been electing their chief and council, and it’s only a small group that remains opposed to the chief and council, but most of the community are behind them, and they’re the ones who are trying to get these agreements honoured now. And so they are furthering negotiations with Quebec, but they want revenue sharing included, as was originally intended.
And Canada is still not at the table, because Canada wants them to go into the comprehensive claims policy, that’s what they’re trying to push them into. So that’s why they never liked the Trilateral Agreement, because it wasn’t under the comprehensive claims policy – it doesn’t lead to extinguishment of title; if anything, it reinforces title, because them having a management role in resource management and getting revenue sharing, that’s all reinforcing Algonquin rights and jurisdiction over resource management.
So, with these different approaches, where do you see things going, and what do you think people can take away from understanding this issue … and what’s important for people living in this area to know about this?
Well what the research has shown from the three Algonquin communities – actually the four, including Barriere Lake – is that, for the Algonquin Nation, Aboriginal title resides at the community level, not the nation level. And the Algonquins at the nation level came together, especially in the summer and that, but the Algonquin First Nations are made up of the modern Indian Act bands, and traditionally those are the extended families that form those modern bands. But there are historic bands that they are descended from, or that they succeed.
So, the whole issue about who’s the legitimate representatives is important: there are duly-elected chiefs of these 10 Algonquin communities, including Golden Lake in Ontario and nine in Quebec, and there’s these other people coming up claiming to be Algonquin chiefs but there’s no evidence to show that they have any of those titles/ or that they’re even connected to a recognized community. So these issues have to be made clear to the public, because there’s so many people coming forward claiming to be representatives of the Algonquin Nation – and groups, who aren’t. So that’s one of the first things that needs to be cleared up.
Once you know who to talk to, who has the legitimacy, that is going to be important, but the Algonquins, the Algonquin Nation within itself, they have to have discussions about what they’re going to do. Because even within the Algonquin Nation there’s two tribal councils on the Quebec side, and then you’ve got this Golden Lake with these nine satellite groups who are not status, on the Ontario side. So there’s going to be a lot of issues to sort out within the Algonquin Nation. And so I can understand why it’s confusing for the public.
And just a final reminder that the Ottawa River, [as] the Quebec/Ontario boundary, is not something that was traditional …
No, the Algonquin Nation pre-existed the creation of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec – they carved the provinces out of the Algonquin Nation territory. Which is why I say the ‘Algonquins of Ontario’ is a policy fiction that’s been created for the governments, for negotiation purposes. Because it’s basically a land grab by the Crown governments, because they want to extinguish title to eastern Ontario, and especially the National Capital Region, where Parliament Hill sits, the Governor General’s residence, the Prime Minister’s residence – the whole city of Ottawa is sitting on unceded Algonquin territory, so they want to make sure that it gets ceded.
And that’s what they’ve been pushing all the Algonquins into, is trying to get them into the comprehensive claims process. So they’re trying to use the Algonquins of Ontario claim as a precedent against the other Algonquins – a very low precedent, because it’s going to set a low standard if this agreement goes forward.
Here are the different emails I’ve had with the Indigenous Affairs (INAC) Minister’s office as well as with the National Capital Commission (NCC), as I wrote to them in support of the demands issued by four Algonquin chiefs in October to protect the sacred site from Windmill Ltd’s pending “Zibi” condo-commercial development at the site, to return the area to Algonquin stewardship and to begin the process of creating an Algonquin cultural and historic centre and park there.
I published the full correspondence at mediacoop.ca: http://www.mediacoop.ca/story/followup-letter-inac-minister-carolyn-bennett-sacr/34345In order, it is:
All the email addresses of the relevant parties are included in my messages about the chiefs’ demands, so if you’d like to write your own letters to them please do. Note that the only response I got were from INAC (by phone and email) and from the NCC (by email, and who’ve also indicated they will be responding to my follow-up to them).
Dec. 19 Asinabka / Akikodjiwan panel discussion & musical performances, as part of Phil Ochs Festival in Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territory.
Link to full video on Youtube (embedded directly below) and also the podcast/audio recording (and direct mp3 download). The following are the start times for each individual speaker/singer in the full video, along with links to the separate stand-alone video for their segment (the individual videos are all also embedded on this page, further below – keep scrolling down – or Youtube playlist here):
♦ 0:57 Barbara Dumont-Hill ♦ 06:05 Albert Dumont ♦ 12:03 Tito Medina ♦ 18:00 Douglas Cardinal ♦ 26:50 Gabrielle Fayant & Amanda Fox (aka Spirit Flowers) ♦ 36:40 Michael Desautels ♦ 40:37 Kevin Schofield ♦ 48:10 Romola Thumbadoo ♦ 1:08:46 Julie Comber (aka Vela) ♦ 1:21:24 Peter Di Gangi ♦ 1:30:10 Barbara Dumont-Hill ♦
More info on this issue at:
For updates, please email akikpautik (at) gmail.com and ask to receive the emails from them, and/or visit www.freethefalls.ca and subscribe to news updates.
Call to Support Protection of Sacred Waterfalls Area
Please as individuals, and as organizations passing official resolutions/endorsements, contact the relevant government officials to indicate your support of these demands (contact info below).
List of email addresses to contact:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
(ie: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, National Capital Commission chair Russell Mills, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, and Jonathan Westeinde of Windmill Development Group)
Also – Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard contact form
AND – Please send copies of all support letters or resolutions to Ms. Brenda St. Denis at email@example.com
– Algonquin drum keeper, community volunteer, and spiritual advisor
Albert Dumont “South Wind” AlbertDumont.com
– Algonquin community activist, volunteer, poet, storyteller and spiritual advisor
Tito Medina TitoMedina.net
– Singer-Songwriter and an icon for Guatemalan revolutionary music
Douglas Cardinal djcarchitect.com
– World-Class Organic Architect, Anishinaabe Elder and First Nations Activist
Gabrielle Fayant & Amanda Fox facebook.com/spirit.flowers.singers
– Spirit Flowers Indigenous women’s hand drum group
– Student & Labour Action Committee of Freeing Chaudière Falls and its Islands
– the Tennessee Cree
Peter Di Gangi AlgonquinNation.ca
– Research and Policy Director for the Algonquin Nation Secretariat
Videos by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca