TURTLE ISLAND

United voice needed for Algonquin claims
By TINA PEPLINSKIE - Staff Writer - The Daily Observer - Monday, April 8, 2002

Land claim negotiators for Ontario and Canada will not go back to the table until all Algonquins speak with a unified voice.

This was the main message presented by Greg Sarazin, chief negotiator for the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council (ANTC), at a community meeting of the Bonnechere Algonquin Community (BAC) held at the Pembroke Legion Sunday after-noon.

The ANTC was established by an accord between seven Algonquin constituencies including the Sharbot Mishigama, Anishinabe of Algonquin First Nation, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, Mattawa/NorthBay Region, Greater Golden Lake, Bonnechere Algonquin Community and Out of 'Territory Algonquins.

Sunday's information session provided an opportunity for Mr. Sarazin, who has been involved in negotiations for 20 years, to bring everyone up to date on what has happened since the March 31 deadline to have an agreement in principal signed has gone by. There have not been any talks between the parties since Nov. 16. 2001.

"The Canada/Ontario negotiators have not set a date for the next negotiating session, but they are open to it and they are just waiting," he said. "Right now everything is on hold because they are waiting for this giant working relationship to be worked on.”

There have not been any negotiations since November because at that time the chief and council of Pikwakanagan decided that group had to pull out of the Algonquin Nations Negotiation Directorate (ANND).

"Ontario made it clear that negotiations weren't going to get on track unless there could be a group formed to represent all Algonquin people," Mr. Sarazin said. "Within the last month, Ontario achieved an extension for April, May or June to allow the Algonquin side to get together."

He said the challenge has always been that the Algonquin people had to exist in one group with one common voice, with one negotiating team.

They want to make sure everybody is included and that everything is settled at one time," Mr. Sarazin explained. "They don't want the treaty to be thrown out when it is done because somebody's interests were not taken into consideration."

In May 1999, the Algonquin people were on their way to a common representation with the formation of the ANND which represented most Algonquins. ANND is made up of Algonquins who live at Pikwakanagan, band members living in other areas and even non-status Algonquins. It represents status and non-status Algonquins in the Negotiations. The chief and council, however, want to conduct negotiations on behalf of the status Algonquins.

In May 2000, the chief signed off on loans and grants and they were transferred to ANND as the political organization to handle negotiations. At that time, it began to define the Algonquin vision for the Treaty and see if the vision and the offer from the government were on the same page.

"In August 2001, we presented a .preliminary report to ANND, but it :doesn't look like Canada and Ontario have enough in their mandate," he said. "We convince them to go to the table with an enriched mandate and we have to make sure we develop fully because we have a better idea of what we want."

It was after hearing these recommendations that the chief and council decided to pull out of ANND, and since that time there has not been a representative of Pikwakanagan on ANND.

The community has been dealing with this land claim issue for generations. The claim is based on Algonquin use and occupation of lands in the Ottawa Valley. The Algonquins of Pikwakanagan submitted a formal claim in 1983 for a 34,000 square kilometre area in Ontario's Ottawa River Valley watershed, between Mattawa and L’Original. Although the land claim involves and area largely covered by treaties, the Algonquins never signed a treaty or have taken treaty benefits. Ontario initiated negotiations in June 1991 and Canada joined the negotiations in December 1992.

In August 1994, all negotiators for all parties signed a framework for, negotiations.

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Sunday April 14, 6:11 pm 2002