Algonquin Chiefs denounce dissidents who erected barricades on Highway 117



    OTTAWA, March 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Meeting today in Ottawa, the Algonquin
Nation Secretariat's Council of Chiefs, representing the First Nations of
Barriere Lake, Wolf Lake and Timiskaming, expressed relief that the blockade
of Highway 117 had come down, but condemned those who carried out the action.
Grand Chief Norman Young remarked, "These people are not legitimate, and they
are not accountable to anyone. They put up this blockade within the
traditional territory of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake without the consent
of the Chief and Council and without the support of the community. In fact,
from the information we have, the vast majority of the people on this blockade
were not even from the community of Rapid Lake - they are just outside trouble
makers."
    There are also doubts about the legitimacy of their complaints. Contrary
to what the blockader's spokesman has told the media, the territory where the
blockade has been setup is covered by an existing agreement between the
Algonquins of Barriere Lake and the Governments of Quebec & Canada. Through
the Trilateral Agreement, efforts have been ongoing to ensure that logging in
the territory is carried out in a way that not only respects the way of life
of the Barriere Lake Algonquins, but also provides them with benefits. Grand
Chief Young explained, "The Algonquins of Barriere Lake and the government of
Quebec have been working hard to bridge their differences and reach agreement
on an integrated resource management plan for the territory, and we have to
wonder why outsiders would want to come in and jeopardize something that means
so much to this community. This person Guillaume Carle who has been acting as
their spokesperson has no mandate from our communities and he is seriously
misrepresenting the facts."
    Grand Chief Young expressed concern that some of the blockaders were
carrying weapons, "We have heard that the dissidents were carrying firearms,
and we can only reject this in the strongest terms as both reckless and
irresponsible. There are times when peaceful protest is called for, but our
primary concern must be for the safety of our community members and our
neighbours, and we have a duty to show the general public that even though we
may disagree from time to time, we make a conscious choice to take the path of
non-violence. We urge all parties to bear these principles in mind and
exercise caution and restraint".
    Chief Jean-Maurice Matchewan of Barriere Lake said, "There is a process
and an agreement in place to address the concerns of the Algonquins, Quebec,
and the forestry companies in the region. These people have no right to be
there and they should get out of the territory. They should step out of the
way and let the legitimate leadership of our communities deal with these
issues."




For further information:

For further information: Grand Chief Norman Young, (819) 627-6869

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ALGONQUIN NATION SECRETARIAT

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