TURTLE ISLAND

Chief wants land claims negotiations to continue
By Debbi Christinck - Staff Writer - Eganville Leader April 3, 2002

Pikwakanagan - Chief Lisa Ozawanimke and council want negotiations to continue and to reach a positive settlement for the Algonquin people. I myself have never wanted to shut the negotiations process down," she said. "We want to make sure it continues, so we can see a settlement."

She spoke with the Leader on Tuesday and said she wanted to correct some statements in last week's story on the impasse with negotiations. Chief Ozawanimke said the article leaves the impression only Chief Negotiator Greg Sarazin has been at the negotiating table and this is not true. "Pikwakanagan has maintained an involvement at the negotiation table," she said.

Last week the Leader reported negotiations between the Algonquins and the federal and provincial governments would stop because of a perception of disunity among the Algonquin nation. Both the federal and provincial governments have a policy that there must be one voice for aboriginal people in a land claim negotiation. Chief Ozawanimke was at a meeting in Ottawa last week with the negotiators for Ontario and Canada.

"Right now there is no decision made as to whether negotiations will stop," she said. The chief said there is a strong message all parties want to continue the negotiation process, but there is a stipulation from the provincial and federal negotiators.

"They say there has to be one united voice for the Algonquins," she said. Chief Ozawanimke said this voice could be Pikwakanagan. At present the council repre­sents the 1,875 band members. "This is a fact they do not dispute," she said, pointing out council represents the band members in terms of the Indian Act.

Chief Ozawanimke said she was concerned about a perception council did not want to speak for the non-status Algonquins in the process. She said council does believe there are non-status persons of Algonquin decent who are potential beneficiaries in the process. She went as far as saying she hopes the non-status Algonquins would allow council to speak for them.

Chief Ozawanimke said the impression council only represented band members has left a huge rift. She added when she resigned as the sole representative from Pikwakanagan on the Algonquin Nation Negotiation Di­rectorate (ANND) at that point council could only represent the band members. She said one voice will have to speak for the Algonquin nation. "We are not excluding any of the potential Beneficiaries of this claim," she said.

The chief pointed out for the last 10 years Pikwakanagan has been trying to implement a number of different procedures and processes in an attempt to develop a relationship with the non-status people. Chief Ozawanimke said she originally stated the relocation of the negotiation's office would have no affect on negotiations, not the fact that Pikwakanagan left ANND.

The chief said there are still some issues that need to be resolved. "One of them is clarifying the role of the ANND corporation," she said. Chief Ozawanimke said she knows there has been a new group formed called the Algonquin Tribal Council. "I don't know what role they play," she said, adding the role of ANND is now unclear too. When asked if there were talks scheduled between the various Algonquin parties to resolve this impasse, she said not yet. "That is a decision that has to be made by council," the chief said.

The chief stressed there is a wish among all parties Canada, Ontario and the Algonquins for the negotiations to continue. "There is a voice at the table for the Algonquins," she said. While she agreed council reversed the decision to proceed with the transfer of all the negotiations office to ANND, she pointed out other groups have since resigned from ANND as well. The chief said the greater Golden Lake and Bancroft group also resigned, citing one of the reasons as the unwillingness of ANND to resolve the im­passe with Pikwakanagan.

The chief added since this group resigned they supported Pikwakanagan in their approach to negotiations and to settling the land claim. She also disputes the claim that ANND has made numerous overtures to council. She said council wanted ANND to develop a process on how they will work with Pikwakanagan. Chief Ozawanimke said there are a number of complicated issues. "I agree there has to be some time set aside and discuss the issues," she said.

The chief said she also disagreed with comments that council has not been listening. "We have been listening," she said. "We have been listening to our band members. "The chief said there is a lot of support for council from band members and council listens to them.

The chief said it is important to recognize the land claim was originally made by the Algonquin Golden Lake First Nation, now known as Pikwakanagan. The Algonquins of Golden Lake (Pikwakanagan) submitted a formal claim in 1983, asserting unextinguished Aboriginal title to a 34.000-square kilometre area in Ontario's Ottawa River Valley watershed, between Mattawa and L'Orignal, near (sic)

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