Barry's Bay This Week - December 1, 2004
Algonquin Land Claim progress being made
|Four surrounding area Algonquin chiefs stand in endorsement of the land claim negotiations. From left; Randy Malcolm, Algonquins of Ardoch First Nation, Patrick Glassford, Algonquins of Greater Golden Lake First Nation, Doreen Davis, Algonquins of Sharbot Lake First Nation and Richard Zohr, Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation.|
The Algonquin land claim process should pick up momentum by the new year, depending on how successful two public information sessions are. The first was held Nov. 25 at the Whitney Fish and Game Club with approximately 40 people in attendance and the second was held last night (Nov. 30 - although results were too late for press time).
J. Potts, principal negotiator for the Algonquin land claim, called two public
information meetings in Bancroft and Whitney areas to inform people of Algonquin
ancestry and about the current status of the land claim process and in
particular the upcoming elections. of the Algonquin Negotiation Representatives
(Algonquin people of Whitney) have been able to maintain a certain understanding
of who they are but there are numbers of others who haven't," Potts said. "So, our task, frankly in some respects, is to try and
pull these people back together again. I mean we've had so many interesting
issues, we've had so many battles within, the time has come where that can't be
done any longer. The common enemy
is not yourselves, the common enemy is the governments." Potts understands
there are issues within the Algonquin communities but he doesn't want that to
hinder the land claim process.
know it's a very sad day for the Algonquin people in this community and the
other communities when that process for purposes of negotiations is being shoved
down their throats," Robert Lavalley, a Whitney area member of The
Algonquin Nation Advisory Committee (TANAC), said.
"There's no recourse here, he's (Potts) saying “you either take it
or leave it.” And all this has progressed to date without our involvement and
that fly-by-night meeting he had here last night was an after the fact
Whiteduck, Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, hopes these two communities
will join in the efforts.
At least eight communities in Ontario need to be represented for the Algonquin negotiations committee.
trying to get them involved. We're
trying to arrange meetings to explain the process," Whiteduck said.
"We have an obligation to contact the people of decent."
said this is just the beginning of the land claim process and they want to
provide information to the Algonquin people who otherwise might not be aware of
the issues at hand.
is just a step to dealing with things at the negotiating table," Whiteduck
said. "I think they'll see it
as fair and open." Lavalley does not see it that way.
a whole lot of underlying issues here that Mr. Potts refuses to deal with and
one is the fact that the chief and the council at Pikwakanagan has accused our
community here, through me personally, of theft of our own negotiating equipment
and that issue has been outstanding for a number of years now," Lavalley
said. "I asked Mr. Potts to
resolve that before we could start a democratic process of trying to come
together to work on this, he said he wasn't interested in all the baggage."
June 1991, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan and the provincial government formally
began the process of negotiations to work toward the settlement of an age old
outstanding land claim. In December
1992, the federal government joined the negotiation process and in 1994, the
three parties signed the Framework for Negotiations.
The process moved slowly since then and was stalled in 2001. In 2002, Chief and Council of Pikwakanagan and the Algonquin
Nation Negotiations Directorate (ANND) asked Dr. Billy Diamond to act as
principal negotiator for the Algonquin land claim.
2003, the Algonquin people of Ontario contacted Potts, a senior partner with the
Toronto-based law firm Blaney McMurtry LLP, to act as the principal negotiator
River Valley land claim.
best part is that I come to this without any baggage and I don't plan on
acquiring any," Potts said. "I'm
simply looking at this as a go-forward project not unlike the numbers that I
have settled in the past."
said there are parts to the process that are missing and he is skeptical about
been involved in that process since 1991, I've been involved in Aboriginal
rights since 1968, so what’s going on is nothing new to me,." he said.
"There's a democratic process that has been totally avoided-and that
has been shoved around for the past six to eight months by a third party by the
name of Potts. Now the only
interest that Blaney and McMurtry and Mr. Potts could possibly have in the
Algonquin land claim would be to A; bend to Ontario's wishes and solve it and B;
walk away financially very handsomely reimbursed at $450 an hour," Lavalley
Algonquin claim Addendum calls for an independent election process for
communities that include Sharbot Lake, Mattawa/North Bay, Greater Golden Lake,
Ardoch, Antoine, Bonnechere, Bancroft, Whitney and other communities within the
region comprised of Algonquins.
identified that there are eight communities that we know of, there may be more
if they demonstrate it," Potts said. "Bancroft
and Whitney, we are still awaiting some indication of their interest in
participating but we know that there are probably the requisite number of people
there and we're very hopeful they'll be part of the process."
ANRs only role is to take direction from the Algonquin electorate in a community
of at least 125 people and to provide direction to the principal negotiator
during the upcoming land claim negotiations with the federal and provincial
governments. Each ANR will hold a
three-year term. All Algonquin
electors have the right to stand as a candidate for the ANR position.
is unaware of the actual size of the parcel of land in question.
issues in relation to land and money and other parts of what might be an
appropriate settlement are not the primary issue right now, the primary issue is
to get a table populated by people who can be regarded as representative of the
said some details of the claim itself are still unclear. "As far as the
land claim goes, it's a bit of a grey area at this point," he said.
genealogist researcher is currently reviewing the criteria of more than 1,300
Algonquin people who have a geographical connection to the land claim.
The review process is expected to be complete within the next two months,
Potts said. He attempted to
reassure the skeptics at the Whitney meeting.
have an election? There are some
traditional people who have issues about that.
The first thing I say is that you must remember this is not a political
process," he said. "We've
got to depend on these people who are negotiators and that's the sole job that
they have to do, just negotiate."
"There has to be a tremendous amount of creditability at the table, I can't work without it," he said. "We have to demonstrate as a group that we are united in that process. "Potts wants to see this land claim settled within three years."
can't stand to see things not move forward," he said.
"The thing that really disturbs me most about this claim is that
it's taken so long to get final."
greatest strength you people have as a people is also your greatest
weakness," Potts said. "Over
many years, for reasons that I can't explain, they couldn't agree on the time
of day." He said that regardless of the current issues, Algonquin people
should put them aside and move forward for the future of their families.
keep saying to the leaders I'm dealing with; 'this is not about you, this is
about your grandchildren and their children and so on,"' Potts said. Of the
many reasons Potts thinks this should move ahead, one is at the government's
been told very clearly, under no uncertain terms, that if we can't pull this
together and get this task done this year they don't want to be bothered with
this anymore," he said. "They
want to get this one done but if they can't then they will go and deal with
others that are in line."
said the elections will take approximately 60 days to hold.
It will take 30 days to get people nominated and another 30 days for
people to have an opportunity to present their positions in public meetings.
elections will hopefully take place in the spring," Potts said.
"We will post lists of people who are electors, as we understand
them, in the various communities."
Although advertised as a public meeting, near the end of the Whitney presentation, members of the media were asked to leave. "We're actually discussing strategy and I hesitate to let the governments have every piece of strategy. I don't think that everything I'm saying here should be on tape," Potts said to the media. Shortly thereafter, Potts requested that reporters stop taking notes and requested that they leave the meeting.
very discouraged with Mr. Potts to say the least," Lavalley said.
"This claim belongs to the Algonquin people, not to Bob Potts, and
we'll decided how we're going to negotiate it."
more information http://www.blaney.com/algonquin.htm
or call toll-free at I-877-287-4570.
Page created by: muckwa
Changes last made on: December 6, 2004.