Extinguishment of Algonquin Aboriginal Title & Rights by Trudeau Government

Extinguishment of Algonquin Aboriginal Title & Rights by Trudeau Government

Despite the Promise of a Nation-to-Nation Relationship the Trudeau Government is Proceeding with a Plan to Extinguish Algonquin Aboriginal Title & Rights
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This article was originally published in Mitchikanabikok Inik (Algonquin’s of Barriere Lake) Newsletter from Chief and Council – Volume 2, Issue 1 – May 2016

On December 19, 2012, we received a memo, sent by then Abitibiwinni Chief Bruno Kistabish to the then Chiefs of Kitcisakik, Long Point and Lac Simon, announcing they intended to incorporate a body called the “Anishinabe Treaty Commission” as the “negotiating unit” for the “Modern Treaty” negotiations the five bands want to enter into with Canada and Quebec.

On August 19, 2013, a press release from five members of Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council (Wahgoshig First Nation, Abitibiwinni First Nation Council, Anicinapek of Kitcisakik band Council, Long Point First Nation and the Council of the Anishnabe Nation of Lac-Simon) was issued that states the “Anishnabek 0 Taki-wan Committee … has a mandate to negotiate a treaty with the Quebec and Canadian governments on behalf of participating communities.”

The August 19, 2013, Press Release listed a number of subjects for negotiations with Canada and Quebec, including “creation of a co-management system of the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, situated in the heart of the Anishnabe territory.”

In response to the Memo of December 19, 2012 and the Press Release of August 19, 2013, our Council sent a letter to the five Algonquin Chiefs involved on August 28, 2013. (see page 10 of this newsletter.)

“Modern Treaties” are the outcome of negotiations with the federal and provincial governments and result in getting First Nations to consent to extinguishment of Aboriginal Title & Rights, giving up reserves, tax exemptions and becoming like a municipal government under federal and provincial laws in exchange for some land and cash (averaging about $25,600 per person & 9.3 Hectares (23 acres) per person) and other minimum “benefits”.

The 1975 James Bay Agreement was the first “Modern Treaty” in Canada, but Canada reduced what is on the table for negotiations after that “Modern Treaty”.

According to INAC, in Quebec, Comprehensive Claims extinguishment negotiations are currently being held with the Innu Nation, Atikamekw Nation Council, Mi’kmaq of Quebec and the Maliseet of Viger First Nation.

To our South there is a group created by the governments of Canada and Ontario called the “Algonquins of Ontario”. The “Algonquins of Ontario” is not a band, First Nation, Nation or entity who hold Aboriginal title or rights, under Algonquin law, Canadian law or international law.

According to our Tribal Council (Algonquin Nation Secretariat) over 3,000 people on the AOO registration list have not even had intermarriage with any Algonquins for over 200-300 years.

How can these individuals be allowed to have a decisive voice in Algonquin Aboriginal Title and Rights negotiations, especially setting a precedent on extinguishing Algonquin Title and Rights?

In March 2016, there was a Referendum on an Agreement-in-Principle to extinguish Algonquin Aboriginal Title, Rights, the Golden Lake Reserve and tax exemption status, among other subjects, the only status Algonquin community—the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation—voted against the Agreement-in-Principle, but their Chief and Council have not pulled out of the land claims negotiation process. Not surprisingly, the non-status and “instant Algonquins” voted for the Agreement-in-Principle since they have nothing to lose.

Following the failed “Algonquins of Ontario” Referendum vote on an Agreement-in-Principle and the call to negotiate a “Modern Treaty” from the five Northern Algonquin communities, we have now received a letter dated April 21, 2016, from Debra Alivisatos, lNAC Director Claims Assessment and Treaty Mechanisms Directorate, informing us that INAC has met with our Tribal Council and the five bands calling themselves Anishnabek 0 Takiwan (Wahgoshig, Abitibiwinni Kitcisakik, Long Point and Lac Simon) to discuss the Comprehensive Claims process.

Our Council was not part of these discussions with INAC and they did not fund the completion of our Aboriginal Title research as they did for other Algonquin bands.

Ms. Alivisatos, also provided our Council with a research report prepared for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada with all the Quebec Algonquin First Nations:

Related to: questions on local and regional Algonquin bands; petitions for lands claimed by the Algonquins; and the creation of reserves in the mid-18th century. The territory studied was the Ottawa River watershed and included the region of Lake Abitibi. The research covered a period beginning in or about 1760 and continuing into the early twentieth century.

Unfortunately, the Historical Research Report about Algonquin Aboriginal Title is in French and INAC did not provide us with an English translation. This is unacceptable since our Council only works in Algonquin and English. We intend to raise this matter with INAC.

The April 21, 2016, letter and attached materials from the INAC Claims Assessment and Treaty Mechanisms Directorate confirms to us that INAC is doing an assessment for the potential validation of an Algonquin Comprehensive Claim, likely triggered by the actions of the “Anishabek 0 Takiwan” who are all members of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council (AANTC).

Unlike the approach of the five member communities of the AANTC, who are seeking to enter Canada’s Comprehensive Claims extinguishment process, in early May 2016, our Algonquin First Nation along with Wolf Lake, Timiskaming and Kebaowek (Eagle Village) submitted an Early Warning Urgent Action Request to the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) informing the Committee of the violation of our Algonquin Human Rights by the fabrication of the “Algonquins of Ontario” by the governments of Canada and Ontario to extinguish Algonquin Aboriginal Title and Rights through the referendum of an Agreement-in-Principle, which the members of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation have now clearly rejected.

Our four Algonquin First Nations (Barriere Lake, Wolf Lake, Timiskaming and Kebaowek/Eagle Village) are calling on the UN Committee to question Canada on what actions they are taking to respond to AFN Resolution #47/2015 to replace the Comprehensive Claims Policy with a Recognition of Aboriginal Title Policy, particularly in light of the 2015 Indigenous Policy Platform of the Trudeau government.

We believe there needs to be ongoing monitoring of Canada by the CERD to ensure the UN recommendations to end the Comprehensive Claims Policy requirements of modified (extinguished) Aboriginal Title and non-assertion of rights is replaced with a policy of recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal Title, which is consistent with the Tsilhqot ‘in decision and section 35 of Canada’s
constitution.

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