ALGONQUINS DEMAND JUSTICEhttp://www.dominionpaper.ca/weblogs/lia_tarachansky/1942
We’re here to demand the minister live up to the promise that he made to us,” said former chief Jean-Morice Matchewan. “They never kept one promise that they made to us,” he continued.
The former chief led the community in protest all through the late 1980s and early 1990s as the reserve prevented clear-cutting on its land and forced the government to sign a monumental agreement in 1991. Last September Matchewan was forced to step down due to charges laid against him as police found a weapon in his vehicle during hunting season. Current Acting Chief Nottoway alleges this was a set up for a Securite Quebec-backed coup d’etat which took place on the reserve last March.
One of the last reserves in Canada to follow a traditional form of governance, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake are also one of the last to maintain their traditional language. In March the government imposed the band council system on the reserve and appointed Casey Ratt as the chief. Nottoway says Ratt doesn’t actually live on the reserve. “He has an apartment in Val D’or… but he’s never had a house in our community.”
Matchewan called for the government to “review its decision to impose the Chief and Counsel. No government is allowed to overthrow another government. That’s why we’re here, to straighten out this mess that they’ve created.”
“The minority faction represents about 20% of the community,” explained Maggie Shreiner, “whereas 80% of the community supports the traditional leadership of Barriere Lake. It’s been very divisive in the community.”