Turtle Island

The Need for a Political Body of the Algonquin Nation
Paper by - Chief Negotiator Greg Sarazin and Algonquin Nation Lawyer Alan Pratt.

September 17, 2001

In recent meetings of ANND, it has become clear that there exists no Algonquin government body with the, political mandate to exercise Algonquin jurisdiction on behalf. Of all Algonquins. It was also agreed that such a body is required.

ANND was created as a corporate body under the authority of the laws of Ontario, to administer the negotiations process. ANND therefore is not an entity of Algonquin governance.

The Chief and Council can enact by-laws under the Indian Act and can pass-other laws that are restricted to their members, but they cannot pass laws that will bind all Algonquins.

There are both short-term and longer-term issues that require the development of an Algonquin law-making capacity. In the short term it is clear that the 1992 Algonquin Law governing hunting and fishing by members of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan must be amended. But there is no body that can amend it and have it apply to all Algonquins. There is no body who can delegate enforcement authority to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. The Algonquin Tribunal requires new appointments.

In the longer term, what government bodies will have jurisdiction over Algonquin lands and their use? We are moving towards finalizing an AIP within the next 9 months. How lands will be held and controlled with be part of the AIP. An Algonquin government structure will give us more control. Without it, Ontario will insist on some form of a holding company under existing Ontario jurisdiction (see Ontario paper on Algonquin organizations, dated June 4, 2001).

Even as we negotiate with the federal and provincial governments, the Algonquin Nation needs to have the capacity to act politically. Even if we are not yet ready to undertake the task of passing aid enforcing laws on a wide range of matters, we need to act as a Nation, through a political representative body. A corporate directive body by definitions cannot direct a political lobby. A lobby must be directed by political decision-makers on behalf of the Nation.

In each region of the Nation, there are committees and representatives who have a variety of mandates from their Algonquin constituents. In some regions, the people have identified Chiefs and Councils in addition to the election or acclamation by members of Board members.

In the short term, we need to ensure that each region provides the mandate to a regional person or groups of persons to act as political representatives. Some regions already have established political entities. Some have only the elected board members of ANND. In some these cases the board member is also designated a Chief. In each of these cases, the authority of the political representatives, or the board members as is appropriate must be provided a full and specific political mandate. Each of the regions or communities must be asked, in open and inclusive meetings, to authorize the local political body to act on behalf of all community and political matters including land claim and self government negotiations. This will create the interim or provisional capacity to act politically.

In the longer term, we need to form a federated Algonquin political body, with a name like the Algonquin Nation Council, which will be the Political arm of the Algonquin Nation, just as the ANND Board is the administrative arm. The Algonquin Nation Council would supersede the interim political body.

An Algonquin Nation Council, if it is properly mandated, would be able to amend the Algonquin Law, as well as supervise the enforcement of the Algonquin hunt. It can also develop models for future government bodies that will be necessary either to implement the Algonquin Treaty or if the negotiations do not take us to a Treaty, to direct and undertake as necessary alternative strategies we will need.

The Report of the Algonquin Government Task Force, dated June 19, 1998, contains some specific recommendations that ANND should review and consider. The Task Force recommended democratic elections in each region to elect and mandate an Algonquin Nation Council. The key is to secure the consent of Algonquins throughout the territory to the creation of a government body with the authority to pass, enforce and amend laws and to act as the political voice of the Algonquin Nation.

The creation of an Algonquin Nation Council is compatible with the existence of ANND. The ANND board could continue to act as the administrative arm of the Algonquin Nation and therefore continue to administer the negotiations.


Turtle Island

Page created by: muckwa
Changes last made on:
Tuesday April 9, 6:11 pm 2001