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Advisory: Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117

Advisory: Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117:
Community loses patience with broken agreements and federal interference in leadership selection


Monday, October 6, 2008

*Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 in Northern
Quebec: Community loses patience with broken agreements and federal
interference in leadership selection

*Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - At 6:00am today, Barriere
Lake community members of all ages peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside
their reserve, promising to maintain the blockade until Canada and Quebec
commit in writing to honour their agreements and Canada appoints an observer
to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere
Lake in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"The Conservative government, like the Liberal government before it, has
treated us with contempt, refusing to respect the agreements they've signed
with us," says Norman Matchewan, a community teacher and part-time police
officer who was racially slurred two weeks ago by the assistant of
Conservative Minister Lawrence Cannon, the representative in Barriere Lake's
riding of Pontiac. "We've exhausted all our political options, but they've
ignored or dismissed our community, leaving us with no choice but to
peacefully blockade the highway to force the government to deal fairly with

Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements, dating
back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development
and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the
agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral agreement in
1998, but has stalled since two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec
special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative
Clifford Lincoln, made recommendations for the agreement's implementation in

"To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately
violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council,"
says Michel Thusky, a Barriere Lake spokesperson. "In what amounts to a coup
d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community
majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government
too because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the
1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."

On March 10th, 2008, for the third time in 12 years, the Government of
Canada interfered in Barriere Lake's internal customary governance. They
rescinded recognition of the Customary Chief and Council and recognized
individuals whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council says were not selected in
accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"The federal government pretends this is simply an internal issue," says
Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barriere Lake spokesperson, on-site at the
peaceful blockade. "But we can only resolve the situation if the federal
government appoints an observer to witness a new leadership selection that
is truly in accordance with our Customary Governance Code, promises to
respect the outcome, and then stops interfering in our internal affairs."

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court Judge Rejean Paul issued a report that
concluded that the current faction recognized by the federal government was
a "small minority" that "didn't respect the Customary Governance Code" in an
alleged leadership selection in 2006 [1]. The federal government recognized
this minority faction after they conducted another alleged leadership
selection in January 2008, even though an observer's report the government
relied on stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code
was respected [2].

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three
Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and
work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council.

- 30 -

Media Contacts:

Michel Thusky, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 - 435-217

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 647 - 227 - 6699

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 438 - 868 - 3957

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