RAPID LAKE/KITIGANIK, Algonquin Territory, QC, June 21 /CNW Telbec/ -
Chief Jean Maurice Matchewan today announced that a large group of community
members are preparing to once again travel from their traditional community to
set up a camp on Parliament Hill, which is part of the traditional
unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Nation. The Algonquins of Barriere
Lake have camped on Parliament Hill twice already in order to press the
federal government to treat them with dignity and respect, and live up to the
many commitments made to them over the years but still outstanding.
The Algonquins camped on Parliament Hill in 1988. The RCMP arrested them
and seized their tents and camping equipment, but an Ontario judge later
ordered the RCMP to release the seized goods and ruled that the Algonquins
could use the legal defense of Aboriginal rights to counter the charges the
federal government brought against the Algonquins. The federal Crown stayed
the charges rather than go through the embarrassment of a trial.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake also set up a camp on Parliament Hill in
October 2001, but voluntarily removed their tents at that time.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are coming to Parliament Hill this time
to demand that the federal government honour and fulfill:
- a pioneering 1991 Trilateral Agreement on land management;
- a 1997 Bilateral Memorandum of Mutual Intent & Global Proposal to
rebuild the community; and
- Special Provisions in federal Funding Arrangements to support the
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have asked some time ago and are calling
again for Minister Prentice to appoint a senior federal negotiator-not a
bureaucrat-a political appointee, to resolve the outstanding issues between
the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and the federal government.
The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are squeezed onto a 59 acre Reserve with
a decaying infrastructure; most of the few overcrowded houses are condemned
due to mold infestation, the provincial Youth Protection authorities are now
prohibiting newborn and young children from returning to the Reserve because
of the poor housing conditions. The school is in need of replacement. There is
around 90% unemployment. All of this contributes to the serious community
In contrast, the Quebec government has offered to expand the land base of
the Reserve, and is considering several other important measures to honour
its' agreements with the Algonquins, but the federal government's stubborn
refusal to honour its responsibilities under previously signed agreements
threaten any positive future for this community.
For further information:
For further information: Russell Diabo, Michel Thusky, Cell: (613)