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Traditional Algonquin Elders Louise and Joseph Wawatie Arrested by SQ for Protesting Continued Logging by Resolute Forest Products

(3:58minute) Interview with Shannon Chief of Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation

by Zach Ruiter

Photo: Arrest of Louise Wawatie, from the Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation Facebook Group
Photo: Arrest of Louise Wawatie, from the Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation Facebook Group
Photo: Arrest of Joseph Wawatie, from the Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation Facebook Group
Photo: Arrest of Joseph Wawatie, from the Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation Facebook Group

Land Defenders and Traditional Algonquin Elders Louise Wawatie and her brother Joseph Wawatie were arrested Tuesday morning by the Surete du Quebec (SQ).  Louise was arrested on a charge of mischief (click for video), Louise is a pipe-carrier and has been part of several peaceful marches of women elders onto the logging roads at Poignan Lake, the abandoned site of the encampment known as "Barriere Lake Solidarity".  For peacefully standing in front of Resolute logging equipment, Joseph Wawatie was arrested (click for video) for breaking a July 24th injunction forbidding such action at the site. 

The Wawatie family holds the land being logged within their unceded traditional hunting and harvesting lands, but at issue is if consensus was required within the family before an agreement on behalf of Barriere Lake Algonquins was signed.  The agreement to "harmonize the process" allowing for Resolute to continue logging, was signed by Gabriel and Janet Wawatie as well as Norman Matchewan of the Rapid Lake Reserve.

I spoke with Shannon Chief, a spokesperson for the Traditional Algonquin Nation of the One Nation who also happens to be an immediate relative of the Wawatie family.  According to Chief, the divide in the community comes down to how they intend to live off the land and the "different intentions, they're intention was to bring in the trilateral agreement... and our people on this side, the traditional people don't want logging at all". 

News of continued actions and yesterday's arrests seem to contradict reports from solidarity groups, for example, both Barriere Lake Solidarity and IPSMO, the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa websites have announced, "WIN! Resistance by Barriere Lake and supporters results in Quebec concession over logging", and an article in the Intercontinental Cry, (linked by IPSMO's facebook page) suggests "The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have gained an unexpected victory in their decades-long struggle to secure their land rights and protect areas of cultural, spiritual and biological importance."

Tina Nottaway, who resides on the territory and counts herself and her family as its traditional peoples claims "the difference between the Matchewans and the traditional people .. is that they want to make back door agreements and we want is to co exist with nature...." adding, "it has to be clarified between these groups..."

According to Shannon Chief, their group plans to distribute flyers outlining the situation by making them available from the highway on which the logging road leads into the Poignan Lake area where Resolute Forestry continues to clear cut. 

A July 18th press release from Resolute Forest Products claims "Resolute's right to harvest in the area has been approved by the QMNRW, following appropriate consultation with the Barrière Lake Algonquin band council." The press release "Resolute Forest Products Provides Clarity About its Woodlands Operations Near Barrière Lake, Quebec" contends that "The current controversy seems to be linked to political tensions within the Lake Barrière community, and Resolute regrets being at the center of this internal dispute."


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Zach Ruiter (Zach Ruiter)
Peterborough, ON
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