(Ottawa) More than 2000 people have signed a petition in support of Barriere Lake Algonquin First Nation. The petition was officially filed this morning in the Quebec National Assembly by Manon Masse, MNA. It calls on the Government of Quebec to suspend all mining activities on the Nation’s ancestral territory and to implement their co-management agreement for all resources on the territory.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to MNA Manon Massé and all others that support our efforts. As we move forward, we would like to see everyone working together towards reconciliation with First Nations rights and interests, including the right to self-determination and implementing our own vision for developing and caring for the land. It’s the only way to ensure a viable future for our community and our culture,” states Chief Casey Ratt, Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
For years, the Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation have tried to reach an agreement for the joint management of renewable resources on their territory with Quebec, and the Algonquins have always understood this to include the right to say “no” to mining. Their territory is located partly in the large La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, at the headwaters of the Ottawa River and at the junction of the regions of Outaouais, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and Hautes-Laurentides.
On January 26, 2017, the Government of Quebec announced that it intended to suspend the mining claims of Copper One; this was confirmed on 8 February 2017. Although this was a step in the right direction, more than 90% of the ancestral territory of the First Nation remains open to mining – an unacceptable situation for the First Nation.
On February 1, 2017, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador adopted an unanimous resolution condemning the Mining Act of Quebec as being "unconstitutional" in regard to indigenous rights. The First Nations urge Quebec to change the Act.
On February 6, 2017, mining company Copper One started legal proceedings for a writ of mandemus against Quebec. The first hearing for this case will begin on Friday, 24 February in Quebec City.
Michel Thusky (French), Nation Algonquin of Barriere, 819-215-0591
Chief Casey Ratt (English), Lake Nation Algonquin of Barriere Lake, 819-441-8002
Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch Canada, 514-708-0134