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Barriere Lake Algonquin Resistance to Stop Unauthorized Logging and Protect Sacred Sites and Wildlife Habitat

Interview with Barriere Lake Elder and Land Defender Michel Thusky

by Lillian Boctor

Barriere Lake Algonquin Resistance to Stop Unauthorized Logging and Protect Sacred Sites and Wildlife Habitat

On December 9, 2013, Algonquins erected a Land Protection camp within the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve at the Poigan sector in Western Quebec.  This is part of a long history of Barriere Lake resistance to the destruction of Algonquin cultural and sacred sites and to unauthorized logging and resource extraction damaging the wildlife and habitat of their traditional territory.  Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources issued permits for 2013-2014 to Resolute Forest Products and other large logging companies, without consultation of the Barriere Lake Algonquins. The Quebec government has been allowing these companies to clear-cut vast tracts of the forest this past summer and fall, and are also trying to enable a mining company to open a copper-nickel mine.  On December 3, 2013 the Algonquins non-violently stopped the logging, which is taking place in violation of signed agreements with the First Nation. The Barriere Lake land defenders say they are trying to protect and steward the land and water for future generations of native and non-native society. In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Quebec and Canada, with the goal of establishing an unprecedented system of sustainable development and eco-management over 10,000 square kilometres of their unceded traditional territory. In 1998, Barriere Lake and Quebec signed a related Agreement to negotiate co-management of the territory and resource revenue sharing, among other issues. The Quebec and Canadian governments consistently refuse to honour the Agreements, allowing Eacom (formally Domtar), Louisiana Pacific, and Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitbiBowater) to clear-cut huge areas without community consultation. Additionally, the community is constantly faced with persecution from police and security forces for defending their land. The Barriere Lake Algonquins are demanding that the Quebec government honour the 1991 Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement and 1998 Agreement with Quebec on Co-Management and Resource Revenue Sharing and cooperate to re-establish harmonizing measures to identify and protect sensitive cultural and ecological sites. Lillian Boctor spoke with Barriere Lake elder and land defender Michel Thusky after a Barriere Lake educational event on December 3, 2013, at Concordia's School of Communty and Public Affairs, about the landmark agreements between the First Nation and the Quebec and Canadian governments, the ongoing destruction of Algonquin traditional land, why the Barriere Lake Algonquins continue to defend their land, and how to support the Barriere Lake community.

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