In the Blog

Algonquin resistance in Barriere Lake continues

November 23rd, 2008     by piKe krpan     Comments

A few weeks ago I blogged about the horrific piece in the Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente. Squeezed in at the bottom was a quick reference and video link to what has been going on for the Algonquins of the northern Quebec community of Barriere Lake, following Jessica’s astute post on racism in that community. Please, I urge you to look at this video again.

After exhausting all political avenues, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and many non-native supporters have blockaded Highway 117 twice. The video shows the first blockade, where the community, including Elders, youth and children, were met with a brutal police response. Riot cops used tear gas and pain compliance, instead of negotiators. The police response has drawn criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemaker Team.

Algonquin children keeping watch over their community. This has been my desktop photo for a few weeks now to inspire me.

They will maintain the peaceful blockade until both the Canadian and Quebec governments honour their signed agreements that would allow co-management of their traditional territory and resource revenue sharing, and until Canada respects their leadership customs by appointing an observer to witness a leadership selection in accordance with their Customary Governance Code, and in good faith recognize the outcome.

This past Friday, some 40 supporters of the community blocked Queen Street West in Toronto for nearly 30 minutes in an act of solidarity. During the blockade, leaflets were handed out explaining the current situation in the community. The action was held in front of the building that houses Quebec’s representative office in Toronto.

The Barriere Lake Solidarity Committee is protesting the recent renewal of heavy-handed repression by the Surete du Quebec (SQ) against the residents of Barriere Lake. Earlier this week the SQ deployed riot police to take down community barricades that had been established on Highway 117, using excessive force. The attacks were followed with the targeted arrest of Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway and community youth spokesperson Marylynn Poucachiche, a mother of five and organizer of the community school, in addition to four other individuals (two of whom still remain in detention).

After blocking the street for about 30 minutes, the supporters moved to deliver a letter to Paul-Arthur Huot, the head of the Quebec Office in Toronto. As Lawrence Angeconeb, a Barriere Lake Solidarity supporter explains: “We did this to raise awareness about the situation at Barriere Lake and to highlight how the people there are being repressed by the SQ. We are especially angered by the lack of response to the demands by the community that there be a government resolution to agreements already signed. We delivered a letter to the Quebec Office in Toronto in order to outline our disappointment with the way things have been handled. We want to keep pressure on the Quebec and Canadian governments to adhere to the agreements they’ve already signed.”

Tags: media savvy, race and racism

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