TURTLE ISLAND

Clarifying the breakdown in the land claims negotiations.
By Chief Doreen Davis, President of ANND - The Eganville Leader - April 17, 2002

My name is Doreen Davis. I am Chief of the Sharbot Mishigama Anishinabe Algonquin First Nation, a mostly non-status Algonquin community in the lower Ottawa Valley. I am also the President of the Algonquin Nation Negotiation Directorate (ANND). If you are confused about issues regarding the Algonquin Land Claim due to recent articles in the "Leader", I hope I can provide some desired clarity.

The majority of Algonquins have been operating in a single process with Canada and Ontario since negotiations began in 1991. A single process, including status and non-status Algonquins, is required to ensure our constitutional rights are protected. 

I have been involved in these negotiations for sometime now and I have always supported an inclusive approach to negotiations.

In 2000, Algonquin community representatives, under the leadership of PikwÓkanagÓn Chief and Council created ANND. The ANND Vision was "To secure an acceptable Treaty Settlement in a manner which represents the interests of the Algonquin Nation of Ontario and our future generations while promoting fairness, accountability and unity within the Algonquin Nation".

This is the same vision that Chief Negotiator Greg Sarazin consistently advocated at the negotiation table since talks began.

In May of 2001, the Chief and Council of PikwÓkanagÓn transferred all negotiation staff, property, and responsibility for the negotiation process, to ANND. In November 2001, Chief Ozawanimke resigned her seat on ANND.

In January 2002 she announced they were severing their relationship with ANND and PikwÓkanagÓn was going its own way. Also in January, the Chief announced she and her council were arbitrarily reversing this transfer. PikwÓkanagÓn demanded ANND turn over all property to them. They did not request the return of any of their staff.

PikwÓkanagÓn appointed Kirby Whiteduck and Dan Kohoko to represent them at the negotiation table. Mr. Sarazin was still recognized as the Chief Negotiator for the Algonquin Nation through ANND.

In December 2001, Mr. Whiteduck and Mr. Kohoko requested a break in negotiations. Mr. Sarazin expressed ANND's willingness to continue to work toward and Agreement-in-Principle. Canada and Ontario agreed to this break.

PikwÓkanagÓn and ANND were to come back to the table with a single coordinated process so that negotiations could continue. 

On January 30, 2002 PikwÓkanagÓn Chief and Council repealed the Algonquin Enrolment Law they created in 1994. At the negotiation table Mr. Whiteduck and Mr. Kohoko stated their position that they no longer validated non-status Algonquins and that PikwÓkanagÓn should negotiate the treaty on behalf of status Algonquins and that non-status would not be involved until the ratification date of the treaty.

This is confirmed in a letter written to ANND from Chief Lisa Ozawanimke, dated February 20, 2002.

"In our opinion, the removal of the Enrolment Law has the effect of reinstating the Algonquins of PikwÓkanagÓn as the sole Algonquin claimants with whom Canada and Ontario can legitimately negotiate a settlement of the claim PikwÓkanagÓn documented during the 1970's and 1980's. It is our further opinion, that if Canada and Ontario wish to negotiate a claim settlement with the individuals who previously used the Enrolment Law to self identify and to validate their participation in the negotiations then, Canada and Ontario should first take some action to validate both, who they are ů and also then take some action to validate their claim to the Ottawa Valley."

This is clearly unacceptable. ANND believes informed consent is required on all issues leading to a treaty affecting the lives of our children and grandchildren. 

In a "Summary Proposed Draft Algonquin Land Code", released to band members only March 26, 2002, the Council of the Algonquins of PikwÓkanagÓn clearly demonstrates the inclusion of status Algonquins only by defining "Algonquin Nation" to mean "citizens/members of the Algonquins of PikwÓkanagÓn".

They also define "Algonquin Land" as "land received as part of a land claim settlement." Unless PikwÓkanagÓn now recognises non-status Algonquin's as band members, non-status Algonquins are left out.

In keeping with our "Vision" we continued with our original purpose, we employed staff and continued operations toward a treaty. We submitted the usual loan funding applications.

PikwÓkanagÓn did likewise. Canada and Ontario responded in writing that neither proposal would be accepted over the other; a joint proposal and work plan was required. 

Prior to the last Leader story on the subject, ANND repeatedly tried to re-establish dialogue with PikwÓkanagÓn's leadership. We have several pieces of correspondence on file that we sent to the Chief and Council requesting meetings to clarify their concerns and to work out resolutions. As of April 3, 2002, there was no acceptance of our invitations.

The negotiation budget for 2001/2002 has now come to an end. We have had to lay off our staff, some of whom had over ten years of service to PikwÓkanagÓn and the Nation overall. ANND is continuing to operate with a skeleton core of dedicated volunteers.

Although the Chief and Council of PikwÓkanagÓn won't meet with ANND, they have agreed to meet with the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council (ANTC). The ANTC is an Algonquin political body established in March 2002 by Algonquin Nation Representatives (some of whom serve on the Board of Directors of ANND as I do). These leaders represent status Algonquins and a majority of the non-status Algonquins.

We are hopeful that the discussions between the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and PikwÓkanagÓn will lead to the inclusive and cooperative working relationship necessary to secure an acceptable treaty settlement for all Algonquins. A treaty settlement will also benefit our neighbours here in our traditional lands.

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Changes last made on: Tuesday April 30 6:11 pm 2002