The Algonquins of Barriere Lake erected a peaceful land protection camp within the ‘La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve’ to stop the unlawful logging and clear-cutting of vast tracks of land. This small Algonquin community in Quebec (about 3 hours north of Ottawa) has been fighting for decades to protect sensitive cultural sites, critical wildlife habitat, and “to bring to life their vision of coexistence and environmental stewardship for future generations of natives and non-natives.”
The Michikanibikok Inik and the Algonquins of Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral Agreement with Quebec and Canada in 1991 to establish an unprecedented system of sustainable development and eco-management over 10,000 square kilometres of their unceded traditional territory, over which they assert Aboriginal Title and Rights. In 1998, Barriere Lake and Quebec signed a related Agreement to negotiate co-management of the territory and resource revenue sharing among other issues. Despite these agreements Quebec and Canadian governments have continually refused to honour their promises and have allowed multiple logging companies to clear-cut large areas of land without consultation of the community. Every year in this area approximately, “$100,00,000 is made off the land through forestry, hydroelectricity and tourism; the Barriere Lake community does receive a cent.” Again this year, Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources has issued permits to large logging companies without meaningful consultation with the Michikanibikok Inik Algonquins (in violation of signed landmark agreements).
The Chief and Council of the Barriere Lake community have sent a letters to the Quebec and are demanding:
1. Cooperate in a measures to harmonize process to identify and protect cultural and ecological sites.
2. Honour the 1991 landmark Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement and related 1998 Agreement with Quebec on Co-Management and Resource Revenue Sharing among other issues.
In a letter to the Quebec government, Barriere Lake’s Chief Casey Ratt and Council writes: “While we try with our very modest means to protect our resources from unfair exploitation, you make sure the Surete du Quebec are there to intimidate us, which means court appearances and often jail. We will use all our means, limited as they are, to protect our territory and our cultural sites. If it again means the [Quebec Police’s] strong arm tactics, so be it, and we are ready to once again face the consequences.” The Sureté du Quebec have previously dispatched riot police (from Montreal) to act as the private security force of logging companies and jailed a former Barriere Lake Chief for two months for participating in peaceful blockades.
The Council of Canadians stands with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and calls on the Marois Government to honour the Trilateral Agreement.
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