Dear Mayor Watson and Council Members,
‘Respect Every Algonquin Life’ (REAL) is something human rights activists stand to defend on the traditional lands of the Algonquin Anishinabeg.
It might well be true that some members of the leadership at Pikwàkanagàn recognize the ‘Algonquins of Ontario’ (AOO) organization as a legitimate body holding the right to determine how the Algonquin land claim settlement finally plays out. The politicians of the City of Ottawa, of Queen’s Park and the Feds might also agree with this outlook, failing somehow to see the nonsense in it. Why not, it serves Federal and Provincial politicians well to do so! But the fact that Algonquin territory is Algonquin territory no matter what side of the Ottawa River it is on is a fact impossible to dispute. Therefore, all parties involved must accept that the Algonquins on the Québec side of the river have a Creator-given right to be at any negotiation table where things of interest to their future generations are at stake. It’s Algonquin land, our spiritual DNA is in all things of our territory. We never surrendered it to anyone, including people who are presently pointing to an Algonquin ancestor from many, many generations ago, as a bulldozer pushing away Status Algonquins from land claim negotiations.
If at the end all else fails, let the Supreme Court of Canada decide if the Algonquins from Québec Reserves have a say in the Algonquin land claim, yes or no! I have faith in the wisdom, the intelligence and the fairness Supreme Court judges are capable of to say who does and who does not have a right to be heard on the issue of the Algonquin land claim. Negotiations for a settlement should no longer move forward without a strong REAL Algonquin presence being at the centre of the negotiation circle. Some of my Algonquin friends who defend Algonquin rights are peaceful in their protests but denying them their right to be heard on this matter, would be testing their limitations to a dangerous zone.
The tactic being used by ‘white negotiators’ in the land claim settlement is disgusting beyond imagination. They dare to ignore REAL Algonquins, preferring to negotiate with people having absolutely no right to speak for us. If such a tactic to resolve a land claim is successful here on Algonquin territory, a precedent will be set. The morbidly ridiculous manoeuvre being tested now on Algonquin land, if successful, will bring forth others, just as determined as the AOO is to silence true voices. Expect an organization calling themselves the ‘Algonquins of Québec’ to rise up! They’ll be ‘recognized’ by the Province of Québec and the Feds, and as is the case in Ontario, in a few years, the ‘Algonquins of Québec’ will be at the negotiation table in greater numbers than REAL Algonquins and we’ll end up only as mere observers in our own land claim (that’s what’s happening now in Ontario). Land claims across Canada will be settled ‘on the cheap’ by a pasal of wannabees, all because we allowed it to happen here.
I heard the CBC interview with Lynn Clouthier (AOO, Ottawa Negotiation Representative). Ms. Clouthier, after describing generations of AOO members (excluding Pikwàkanagàn) living in the Valley, stated, “We (AOO) lived as Algonquins with other Algonquins.” If this is true then where are the AOO’s Algonquin language speakers? Who among them were birchbark canoe builders? What are the stories passed on to them by their keepers of Indigenous Knowledge? If they exist, then I want to know who it was who taught them and how much the cost was? What evidence can the AOO produce that they were ‘living as Algonquins’ prior to the 1970’s?
People like Ms. Clouthier never felt the full extent of the poisonous bite the monster called the ‘Indian Act’ sunk into the hearts and spirits of ‘Status’ Algonquins. I ask, did her parents experience the ‘Pass System’? Were her parents forced to wait until 1960 to vote in a federal election? Did her parents or brothers and sisters attend Residential School or Day School? If the answer is no, then how dare they demand to be front and centre at the negotiating table on our land claim. At best, Ms. Clouthier might be accurate in describing herself as ‘Métis’, but she crosses the line when seeing herself as a human being having voting rights with the Algonquin land claim.
A REAL Algonquin would never ignore, forget nor dishonour their Brothers and Sisters from Reserves in our territory when it comes to land claim negotiations. Only desperate phoney imposters would do such a thing. The land claim cannot be settled in part (Ontario). It can only be settled in its entirety. Our lands in Ontario were given to the Algonquins by Creator at the same time as were those on the Québec side of the Ottawa River. It is the Ottawa River watershed! It is us!
I urge the authentic Algonquin Chiefs (from status communities) to request ‘Fifth Estate’ type investigators to look into the activities of the AOO leadership to discover where, what and why their organization was founded. A lot of corrupt, criminal and deceitful actions involving politicians, developers, business people and perhaps even Indigenous leaders will no doubt be uncovered. I urge the Real Chiefs to acquire the best of legal representation to sue the AOO leadership for interfering with a land claim process through the use of false representation. They (AOO) call themselves ‘Algonquins’ but are coming across more like pirates and pillagers. The Province of Ontario and the Federal Government are also liable for recognizing the AOO as legitimate representatives in our land claim. I urge all REAL Algonquins to contact their Chief and Band Councils and demand action on this extremely critical matter. We need now, more than ever before to get an iron grip on our identity as Algonquins. If we allow the AOO to continue in destroying us as a People, we fail our next generation to a degree that will bring shame to our ancestors and because of it, we will forever be the laughing stocks of all Turtle Island for allowing it to happen.
To the people who, outside of Pikwàkanagàn, call themselves ‘Algonquin’ I say this, “If this is what rocks your boat, then do it. There are people in Germany who each summer, build teepees and sing powwow songs while dancing in buckskins. Do what you want as long as you steer clear of our land claim. You don’t have any business in it.”
Mayor Watson said, “It is not the role of Ottawa City Council to judicate internal disputes between Algonquin communities.” He’s probably right. However, if Ottawa City Council is serious about reconciliation, they would not throw their support into one or the other of conflicting camps for the simple reason that by doing so, it chances enraging the other body. An ally or friend does not take such a chance! Ottawa City Council should stay out of this particular matter until the Algonquins (all Algonquins) are at peace with the problem before us. If Ottawa City Council moves ahead in support of Tewin, then they make it known to all that they stand with those who would erase the rights of the Algonquin Anishinabeg. A trust that can never be repaired will be broken because of a bad decision made by an Ottawa City Council with Jim Watson as Mayor. I ask Ottawa City Council that in regards to Tewin, stay out of it. Do not support it!
Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg