Resolute Forest Products logging under heavy police presence at Barriere Lake
Montreal riot police have been sent 5 hours north of Montreal to the area where the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake are protesting Resolute Forest Products‘ logging activity.
For the past 2 weeks, members of the Algonquin First Nations of Barriere Lake have been camping out along the roadside at Poigan Lake where the logging is occurring. Today, members of the Algonquin community are moving their protest camp site closer to logging operations to prevent further cutting.
The police are escorting the loggers to their job site and have threatened to arrest members of the Barrier Lake community if they interfere.
What the dispute is about
The Algonquin First Nations of Barriere Lake insist the Quebec government has granted a harvesting license to Resolute Forest Products without the Algonquin community’s consent or consultation, and in violation of the Trilateral Agreement the Quebec government signed with Barriere Lake in 1991.
“I was not properly consulted nor did I provide consent to this logging within our territory,” said Algonquin elder Gabriel Wawatie, whose family territory is being clear-cut, in a letter last week to Premier Charest and the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources that has not been responded to by the Liberal government.
“The Charest government has acted in bad faith, giving this company the go-ahead to log while they ignore their signed agreements with our community,” said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson. “It has left us with no choice but to try to stop forestry operations. We have been waiting 20 years for the Quebec government to honour it.”
The Trilateral Agreement is a contract signed in 1991 between the Federal Government, the Provincial Government (Quebec), and the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake that deals with land use of 10,000 km2 of land traditionally inhabited and used by the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake. The agreement would see the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake included in decision making about the land, and gain a financial return from any resource extraction or commerce on their land (logging, hydro-electric, tourism). It would see traditional Algonquin knowledge of the land integrated into how the territory might be used and conserved.
Under the agreement, the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake would be given a $1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out of their territory every year.
The agreement has been signed by the federal and provincial governments, yet both levels of government have failed to honour the agreement.
Casserole Lunch Protest
The Montreal-based supporters of the people of Barriere Lake are calling for a lunchtime casserole on Wednesday July 18 outside of Resolute Forest Products offices to demand that they stop their logging and consult with the people of Barriere Lake. After a rally in front of the logging company office, they plan to continue towards the office of Premier Charest, to protest the criminalization of popular struggle by the government of Quebec. (Casseroles began in Montreal as a rejection of attempts by the government to criminalize the popular movement of the students through Law 78 and police repression.)
ALERT: Algonquins threaten blockade while Montreal riot cops stand on alert (Barriere Lake Solidarity)
Barriere Lake Logging Struggle (CUTV)