(click the above link for a ten minute interview with Rapid Lake spokesperson Norman Matchewan)
The story of the dispute at Barriere Lake is ongoing, has been going on for decades if not centuries. The greatest injustice is the cultural genocide committed by the Quebec Government in collusion with industry, and the brutality of the SQ to enforce this relationship.
One prominent tactic of colonialism is to dominate by dividing and conquering people of the land, in this specific area that goes by many names including, Gens de Terre, or People of the Land.
With the growing conflict comes all kinds of potential for internal disagreement, namely by those who represent the opposition and speak on its behalf. At issue is the decision of Gabriel and Janet Wawatie to sign a deal with the Ministry of Natural Resources to "harmonize the process" of logging.
I spoke with Norman Matchewan, community spokesperson for Rapid Lake and the Barriere Lake resistance. For Matchewan, the harmonization agreement is a compromise between protecting moose yards and sacred sites and the prospect of continued clear cutting without consent and enforced by the SQ.
Under the tentative agreement Resolute will finish cutting 7 cut yards without changing its practices, and the remaining 65 cut yards will be logged under a harmonization agreement which Matchewan expects to be finalized within the next two weeks.
Matchwean does not support the group of elders who are at present occupying the land in an attempt to meet their goal of absolutely no cutting. Matchewan who served as a police officer in Rapid Lake for five years, before his position was cut, knows first hand that the force of the police is relentless and that logging would continue without consent or consultation in the absence of an agreement.
As for the $1.5 million dollar figure put forth by Shannon Chief of the Traditional Algonquin Women's Council, according to Matchewan, the community and the Wawatie family will not see a cent and that the agreement was made purely for the purposes of harmonizing the logging process.
Matchewan notes that the figure of $1.5 million was requested five years ago as an annual portion of the more than $100 million dollars the Quebec Government collects annually from the logging.
Matchewan notes that the agreement was made by the family that traditionally harvested the area, the Wawatie's, however Jacob Wawatie, Louise Wawatie, and Joseph Wawatie did not consent to their relatives Gaberial and Janet Wawatie signing the agreement.
I asked Matchewan about the reaction of the children who lived at the camp for almost an entire month, "most of the kids did recognize that the harmonization will protect the moose yards and the sacred sites".
Although Matchewan is not officially supporting the Traditional Algonquin Women's Council and its elders he said "those people down at the camp, I'll drive down there and check on them today".
Update on IPSMO
"Update – July 24
From Barriere Lake Algonquin Community Spokesperson, Norman Matchewan:
I want to thank everybody for their support, on Friday we met with MNR and the family agreed to do a harmonization measures, to protect the moose yards, bear dens, sacred sites, medicinal sites and other sites. MNR and Resolute had over 70 cut blocks and 15 priority cuts, and the main harvesters agreed for the 7 cut blocks that was already started to be completed, and the harmonization to be carried out by community members."
For a counter-point to this article please see http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/audio/breaking-agreement-barriere-lake-not-accepted-traditional-council/11788 for an interview with Shannon Chief of the Traditional Algonquin Women's Council which is opposing the harmonization deal.