TURTLE ISLAND

DECEMBER 2003

Algonquin Nation
ANNOUNCEMENT

We are pleased to announce that Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council and the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council/Algonquin Nation Negotiation Directorate have jointly appointed Robert Potts as our negotiator to assist us in the negotiations with Canada and Ontario which will hopefully result in a resolution of the Algonquin Nation’s long outstanding grievances.  Mr. Potts is a senior partner with the Toronto law firm of Blaney McMurtry LLP.  Over the past fifteen years Mr. Potts has helped several First Nations in Alberta and Ontario to successfully resolve their land claims.  Mr. Potts and his firm has, in turn, contracted and will be assisted by legal counsel, Alan Pratt who has worked with us previously and has wealth of experience in representing First Nations.

As a first step towards the fulfillment of a meaningful settlement with Canada and Ontario, with Mr. Potts’ assistance, we are embarking on a process over the next six months which is intended to build a consensus among our people regarding who will ultimately be considered eligible to receive whatever benefits might be achieved through a settlement - the “beneficiary eligibility criteria”.

A number of meetings are being planned in our Communities for the purpose of thoroughly discussing this critical issue and receiving your guidance.  In addition, it is hoped that through this process the necessary means to build a consensus within our Communities will be achieved so that Mr. Potts and our Negotiation Team will have available to them a reliable mandating structure to bring home a settlement package on the long outstanding substantive grievance issues that they can be confident will be overwhelmingly accepted by our people.

This preliminary process has been endorsed by both Canada and Ontario.  As Mr. Dewar, Canada’s Director General of Comprehensive Claims has recently written to us:

“I wish you well in this endeavour.  I am mindful of the substantial undertaking in
which you are prepared to engage.  I am encouraged to believe that your proposal
will achieve a coherent and productive process.”

We look forward to meeting with you soon and working towards the building of a positive consensus that will afford us a settlement which will benefit the Algonquin people, not only today, but for many generations to come.

Negotiations Update 

Kwey Kwey Anishinabe.  We have some great news!  After an almost certain end to the land claim negotiations, the federal and provincial governments have just recently agreed to participate in a cooperative Algonquin process designed to restart the negotiations. 

 As you are aware, the land claim negotiations were on hold since November 2001 and we have been working hard to get them restarted ever since.  We thought we had succeeded a few times but unfortunately not.  We believe that the government had finally given up altogether on the Algonquins, but we have managed to convince them to give us one more chance.  This is great news and a major relief but much work lies ahead of us. 

 Details of the new process are discussed elsewhere in this newsletter.  For now we want to provide you with a long overdue update on the land claim negotiations.

 Background:

 First off, we apologize for not getting this out sooner, however, we have been working under extremely difficult circumstances that has made doing so next to impossible.  There has been absolutely no funding provided to the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council what-so-ever for negotiations support from April 1, 2002 to now, with the exception of some limited funding that was provided for the 3-month period of January 1, 2003 to March 31, 2003 but it did not come in until after March 31, 2003.  Once received, that funding only just barely covered operations expenses for the January to March 2003 period. 

 As you will recall in our last full update contained in our September “Sweetgrass Bulletin”, we reported that Land Claim Negotiations had been on hold since November 2001. Canada and Ontario made it clear then, as they always had, that there will be no Land Claim Negotiations until there is one unified voice that once again represents the vast majority of the Algonquin people who will be beneficiaries of an Algonquin Land Claim settlement including both status and non-status Algonquins. 

 The Algonquin Nation Tribal Council has continued to work hard since November 2001 to find a solution to the unity issue, that would ensure that a unified and fully representative process could be established.  We thought and hoped that we had achieved the basis of one a couple of times but the reality, at this point is that real negotiations at the main negotiation table never did get back on track since that time.

 In the summer of 2002, Canada and Ontario retained an Independent Facilitator Eva Marszewski to help the Algonquins resolve the issue of unity so that negotiations could be continued.  The Facilitator’s report made several recommendations that included a unified cooperative process between the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council and also the joint appointment of a Negotiator to represent both parties in a unified process.

 In September 2002, the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council made a written proposal to the Chief and Council of Pikwakanagan that enshrined the principles contained in the Independent Facilitators report and in late November Pikwakanagan Chief and Council committed by letter to work cooperatively with the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council.

 Cooperative Process:

 In early December 2002 the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council began discussions on the selection of an Independent Negotiator.  Of all of the names of qualified individuals put forward at that time, Dr. Billy Diamond was selected as the person most acceptable by both parties to act in this capacity. 

 The negotiation table met in January, February and March of 2003.  These meetings only dealt with scheduling and process issues and did not deal with any formal negotiations over substantive issues such as land, natural resources, jurisdiction or compensation.

 Canada and Ontario reported that they were not fully convinced that all of the unity issues were resolved between Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council so they eventually committed to only a further six months of negotiations within which the Algonquins could prove themselves by achieving progress at the negotiation table.

 Under the guidance of Dr. Billy Diamond, the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council created our work plan and funding package to support negotiations for April 1, 2003 to September 30, 2003.  Mutual agreement on the “Beneficiary” issue, which identifies who will be eligible to participate in the negotiations and receive any “benefits” that might come out of a land claim settlement, is the main issue identified that needs to be resolved if progress is ever going to be made in these negotiations.

 Contract discussions with Dr. Billy Diamond proved to be very difficult throughout this time period even though the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council were in agreement.  Government skepticism increased.

 On June 11, we met with Pikwakanagan Chief and Council representatives and agreed on how we could proceed with resolving the “Beneficiary” issue which is seen by Canada and Ontario as the main issue that needs to be resolved if we are ever going to make any progress in the negotiations.

 The mandate of Canada’s Chief Negotiator Jean Yves Assiniwi, ended June 30, 2003 and to date he nor anyone else has been contracted for that post.

 On July 28, 2003 the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council formally severed working relationships with Dr. Billy Diamond due to contractual issues that were just too great to overcome. 

 On August 1, 2003 the Ontario Chief Negotiator Brian Crane advised his government and us that the work plan covering April 1, 2003 to September 30 2003 now no longer applied since the Independent Negotiator was never properly retained and was now released from his services.  The federal government took a similar position.

 Things turn around:

 In an effort to get the derailed talks back on track, the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council retained the service of Mr. Bob Potts, an aboriginal lawyer from a prestigious Toronto law firm to assist us.  Contract discussions with Mr. Bob Potts have gone very well and he is now acting as Independent Negotiator for the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn Chief and Council.

 Mr. Potts has met with us, has worked with us and has lobbied the governments on our behalf to have the negotiations restarted.  In early September 2003 Mr. Potts and Alan Pratt along with Chief Doreen Davis, on behalf of the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council and Chief Kirby Whiteduck, on behalf of the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn made a submission to government on how we could move the process forward in hopes of convincing them to restart negotiations. 

 That submission proposed a process of resolving “Beneficiary” between September 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004 as proof that Algonquins can work together and make progress and show that we can negotiate and settle our Algonquin land claim. 

 On November 24, 2003 we received word that government would give us that chance.

 We have now revised that work plan to cover a 6-month period between December 1, 2003 and May 30, 2004 within which we need to develop and achieve broad Algonquin consensus on an Algonquin Beneficiary Criteria.  Government has made it clear that this is our last chance and if we are unable to achieve this then it will be our future generations who will struggle to restart and settle the Algonquin land claim.

 Achieving agreement on “Beneficiary” with broad support by the Algonquin Nation by May 30, 2004 will convince government to restart negotiations, stalled since November 16, 2001.  We are optimistic and are eager to get to work.

 We now have the “Green Light” – time to get to work!

Bancroft information meeting minutes

Pembroke information meeting minutes

SWEETGRASS BULLETIN 
A Publication of the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council

Kwey Kwey Anishinabe,  Hello Algonquins,  

We are sending this out to invite you to participate in a new process designed to restart our Algonquin Land Claim negotiations, stalled since 2001.  As you know, we have been working hard ever since then to reunite the Algonquin Nation so that we could continue the struggle for justice for our Nation.

 Background 

Non-Status Algonquin people have been participating in the negotiations under the Algonquin Enrollment Law since 1994 but in 2001 a breakdown of the operational structure of the Algonquin Nation occurred.  This ongoing disagreement has kept the negotiations on hold ever since then because the governments have refused to negotiate with us until there was agreement by the majority of Algonquins on this issue.

New Process

 We have now finally achieved a cooperative process with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan to develop a mutually agreed to “Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria” to define who will be eligible to be a beneficiary in an eventual Land Claim settlement and also eligible to participate in the decision making process of directing the negotiations. 

 When we are successful at this process the land claim negotiations will restart.

 The Algonquin Nation Tribal Council established our Algonquin “Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria” in 2002.  The Algonquins of Pikwakanagan in a separate process also established their draft “Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria.”  These two criteria are enclosed here with this newsletter.  In our new process we will work with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan under the guidance of our new Principal Negotiator, Bob Potts, to attempt to achieve a consensus on acceptable “Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria” 

Also as a part of this new process we will be holding a number of information meetings where we want to speak with all Algonquins, whether you are a part of the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council or not, to hear your views on this issue.  With your input we can be certain to develop a “Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria” that all Algonquins can support.      

Please note the change in the location of the Bancroft meeting.

Information Meeting Schedule
Location Date Time
Bancroft
Best Western "Sword Inn"
Wednesday April 28, 2004 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Pembroke
Pembroke Legion Hall
Sunday May 16, 2004 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Sharbot Lake
St. James Catholic School
Sunday May 30, 2004 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Pikwŕkanagŕn
Makwa
Tuesday June 1, 2004 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Mattawa
Lions Den
Saturday June 6, 2004 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

We welcome you and other Algonquins to come out to the information meetings to meet our new Principal Negotiator, Bob Potts, and to hear more about this process and to give your comments on what should be contained in the final “Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria”.

Download Bob Potts first Open Letter to the Algonquin People - Adobe .pdf File

(ANTC) Beneficiary Criteria Draft

(Pikwŕkanagŕn) Beneficiary Criteria Draft - Full Version

Turtle Island

Page created by: muckwa
Changes last made on: September 6, 2004.