NITASKINAN, QC, June 28, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Some 36 hours after the
start of their logging activities blockade on their ancestral
territory, the Atikamekw Nation finally received a call from Québec
Natives Affair's Minister. "We spoke to Natives Affair's Minister Geoff
Kelley, but he had nothing to present us", said Wemotaci Chief, David
Boivin. Consequently, the Atikamekw leaders decided to maintain their
blocking of logging activities and logging transportation in Haute
Since last Monday at midnight, the Atikamekw from Opitciwan and Wemotaci
have erected roadblocks on road 25 between La Tuque and Wemotaci, and
another one between the hamlets of Parent and Clova. Protesters are
preventing access of trucks carrying wood, but are letting the
residents and vacationers go through.
The First Nations protesters are also allowing free passage to Via Rail
passenger trains, but threaten to block the CN freight trains.
"Minister Julie Boulet says we are holding regional economy workers
hostage. It's rather the government who has been taking the economy of
our communities hostage for decades", said the Chief of Opitciwan,
Being the First Nation occupying this territory for more than 4,000
years, the Atikamekw detain ancestral rights, including an aboriginal
title and an inherent right to self-government. After being opposed and
blocked for two centuries, these rights have finally been recognised,
in principle, in the 1970's by the governments of Canada and of Québec.
A negotiation referred to as "Comprehensive Land Claim" has been
started to outline the reach of these rights. This negotiation has been
lingering on for the last 32 years. At the same time, the private firms
and the Québec Government keep exploiting the land as if the Atikamekw
had no rights on the territory. "The Comprehensive Land Claim
negotiation is not a permit to baffle our rights. We ask the Québec
Government to respect our rights and to agree immediately on new
natural resources managing regulations", explained the Chief of
Manawan, Paul-Émile Ottawa.
The Atikamekw still wish to pursue the territorial negotiations to agree
on a treaty. However, after 32 years of negotiations without any
results, it is necessary to find other avenues that would allow an
accommodation of their rights. Thus, the Atikamekw ask the Government
of Québec to set up a negotiating table to conclude a "Nation to
Nation" agreement on a range of topics falling within provincial
jurisdictions, particularly with respect to the land and natural
resources management. More specifically, the Atikamekw requests that a
co-management of the territory method be put forth, as well as the
establishment of mechanisms that allow the Atikamekw communities to
have benefits from the exploitation of the territory.
Kruger's Double Standard
The Atikamekw deplore Kruger's "double standard", as this company has
agreed to a deal with the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, including an
annual payment of $20,000 as compensation for the installation of wind
turbines on land subject to land claims. "If this is true for the
construction of wind turbine, it should be as well for cutting trees,"
said Chief Awashish.
About the Manawan, Opitciwan and Wemotaci communities
Located in the North-East part of the Lanaudière region, Manawan has a
population of 2,400. The governance is assured by the Conseil des
Atikamekw de Manawan. Located at the North of the Gouin Reservoir, some
300 kilometers West of Roberval, the Opitciwan community include 2,592
members, 2,169 of which live on the reservation, and is administered by
the Conseil des Atikamekw d'Opitciwan. The Wemotaci community, located
on the shores of the Saint-Maurice River, the Wemotaci community
comprises 1,700 members, and is administered by the Conseil des
Atikamekw de Wemotaci. The Atikamekw people have occupied the
Nitaskinan for millennium.
SOURCE Conseil des Atikamekw d'Opitciwan
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