The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have gained an unexpected victory in their decades-long struggle to secure their land rights and protect areas of cultural, spiritual and biological importance.
After carrying out a series of successful actions against Resolute Forest Products, the Quebec government and forestry company agreed to respect a key portion of the 1991 Trilateral agreement, a landmark sustainable development, conservation, and resource co-management plan for some 10,000 square kilometers of the Algonquin’s traditional territory.
Both Canada and Quebec have continuously refused to adhere to agreement, which they co-signed with Barriere Lake 21 years ago. The Algonquin community, in turn, has continuously protested and demanded that both governments honor their word. Those protests have been routinely confronted with the heavy hand of Quebec’s police forces.
Now it appears the Quebec government is starting to change its tune; though it’s perhaps a little too early to be giving them any kind of standing ovation. After all, the government was in the wrong and they knew it. Even without the Trilateral agreement, the Province had a constitutional obligation to work with First Nations in any decision that could effect them – and it does not get to choose when and under what circumstances it will do so.
That’s the whole reason Barriere Lake started speaking out in early July. Resolute Forest Products, the logging company formerly known as AbitibiBowater Inc., had begun an illegal logging operation near Poigan Bay, Quebec, in an area that holds sacred sites and an important moose habitat. The Ministry of Natural Resources issued permits to Resolute Forest Products without consulting or seeking the free, prior and informed consent of Barriere Lake.
After the First Nation’s initial response, a number of protests and other actions were carried out, including several successful stoppages of the company’s operations, a letter writing campaign, and powerful demonstration outside the offices of Resolute Forest Products and Premier Jean Charest in Montreal.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Quebec government concedes to the Algonquins of Barriere lake.