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Algonquins of Barriere Lake Stop Unauthorized Forestry Operations On Their Territory Until Agreements Respected

Barriere Lake, Quebec –  Today the Algonquins of Barriere Lake non-violently stopped forestry operations that are devastating their lands in Western Quebec.

On November 24 the Chief and Council of the community sent a letter to the Quebec government demanding they respect a signed agreements with Barriere Lake that are supposed to prevent logging on ecological and culturally sensitive areas.

“We are trying to protect and steward the land and water for future generations of native and non-native society, ” says Norman Matchewan, a Barriere Lake councillor.

In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Quebec and Canada. Its aim was to establish 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 have refused to honour the 1991 and 1998 Agreements, allowing Eacom (formally Domtar,) Louisiana Pacific, and Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitbiBowater) to clear-cut huge areas without consultation of the community.

Three weekends ago, Quebec police visited Barriere Lake’s Chief Casey Ratt at home on a Saturday morning.

In a letter to the Quebec government, Barriere Lake’s Chief and Council writes: “While we try with our very modest means to protect our resources from unfair exploitation, you make sure the Surete du Quebec are there to intimidate us, which means court appearances and often jail.”

“We will use all our means, limited as they are, to protect our territory and our cultural sites. If it again means the [Quebec Police’s] strong arm tactics, so be it, and we are ready to once again face the consequences,” the letter adds.

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Media Contact: Norman Matchewan 819-441-8006

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(Source: Media Co-op)


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