The Electric Pencil

Barriere Lake: Canada’s modern colonialism

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With all the hubub over the government’s apology to residential school survivors, it’s easy for many to overlook the fact that colonial atitudes that led to the residential school tragedy are still present today. But for Aboriginal communities across Canada, the reality is all to clear. A strong example is what has been going on in the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake. The residents have been fighting a protracted battle with the Canadian and Quebec governments for nearly 20 years now, primarily over whether the fedral and provincial officials would stick to the terms of a trilateral agreement on resource development in the north-western Quebec community’s territory. It came to a head recently, with the Canadian government, with the help of the Sûreté de Québec, out-right replacing the communities leadership with an unelected body.

Last week on the Lendemain de la veille, a radio show I have been hosting on CKUT 90.3 here in Montreal, I had the chance to speak with Michel Thusky, a resident of Barriere Lake, about the history of the dispute and actions by government officials. Django Doucet, of Solidarity For Barriere Lake, also spoke briefly about the occupation of the Lawrence Canon’s office, who is the MP for the area. The interviews are available here; just scroll ahed to the 30 minute mark. You can read more about the day-long occupation that took place June 26th on Lia Tarachansky’s blog at the Dominion and on Intercontinental Cry.

The ins-and-outs of the situation can get intricate (although the result is pretty clear). To get a good idea of what has been going on in this small community – and why more people need to be speaking out about it – check out The Algonquins of Barriere Lake, a video by a group of Ottawa University law students. It’s 41 minutes long, but definitely worth the watch.

To find out more, visit:

Written by Tim McSorley

July 11, 2008 at 11:21 pm

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