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More than a hundred members of the Barriere Lake Algonquin First Nation traveled to Ottawa on December 13, to demand the Harper government honour a landmark environmental agreement and stop waging a campaign of forcible assimilation against the community, said Barriere Lake community spokesperson Tony Wawatie.

They were joined by hundreds of supporters including the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Council of Canadians, KAIROS, the New Democratic Party and Green Party, Christian Peacemaker Teams and many others.

The Algonquin First Nations group traveled to Ottawa to protest the Harper government’s attacks on their community and environmental agreement. In 1991, Canada and Quebec signed the United Nations-praised Trilateral Agreement with Barriere Lake to create a sustainable development plan for 10,000 square kilometers of the community’s traditional territory, but both the federal and provincial governments have refused to implement it.

In August, the Harper government imposed an Indian Act election process on Barriere Lake, in which less than a dozen community members cast ballots, while the rest of the community boycotted. Almost 200 people signed a resolution rejecting the entire process, wishing to preserve the traditional governance system they have used for countless generations.

A news conference was held in the Charlie Lynch Room, Parliament Hill, and speakers included Charlie Angus, NDP Member of Parliament; Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network of Economies and Trade; and Tony Wawatie, Barriere Lake Community spokesperson. The news conference was followed by a march that began on Parliament Hill and ended in front of Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan’s office at the Confederation building.