January 07, 2007 23:59 ET

No crisis in Barriere Lake - Barriere Lake Elders call for respect of the people's choice

KITIGANIK, QC, Jan. 7 - Almost one year ago, on January 30,
2008, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake gathered to confirm the selection of a
new Customary Chief and Council. A majority of the Mitchikinabikok Elders
presided over a process, conducted as per the First Nation's Customary
Governance Code, which nominated and selected a new Council comprised of Chief
Casey Ratt and four Councillors: Donat Thusky, Roger Jerome, Wayne Papatie,
and Ricky Decoursay. The Mitchikinabikok Elders are asking that this decision
be respected as they continue to fully support Chief Casey Ratt and his
Council members saying: "There is no leadership crisis."
According to Barriere Lake First Nation's Customary Governance Code, the
Mitchikinabikok Elders are charged with the responsibility of mediation and
conflict resolution. In 2007, significant issues arose regarding unilateral
decisions and actions of the previous Council which caused concern among the
People; the Mitchikinabikok Elders acted by initiating a Leadership Review.
"Our Mitchikinabikok Ketizijik - Elders resolved the leadership issue last
year by following our Customary Governance Code. Unfortunately, the former
Council was not willing to listen to or cooperate with the People. All our
requests to convene assemblies were ignored. As a result of their lack of
cooperation and failure to act on behalf of the People, Jean Maurice
Matchewan, Benjiman Nottaway and the other Councillors were removed from
Council," said Elder Antoine Decoursay, who seated Casey Ratt as Customary
Chief during the January 30, 2008, selection process.
In their Declaration of June 18, 2008, a majority of the Mitchikinabikok
Elders reject the efforts of Harry Wawatie, Louisa Papatie, Toby Decoursay and
Jeanine Nottaway who claim to be acting on behalf of the community in court
application T-462-08 for a judicial review regarding INACs acknowledgement of
the new Council. "This was a decision of the People. It was not action by
Indian Affairs but by our People and our Elders. That is what I want others to
recognize and to respect," states Elder Antoine Decoursay. The Mitchikinabikok
Elders Declaration notes that with the assistance of David Nahwegahbow and
Russel Diabo, the previous Council are issuing statements that do not reflect
the true wishes of the People. "This misinformation has been going on for far
too long; our People have been controlled for far too long by certain
individuals who have favoured themselves, not the community." Elder Liza Chief
says, "We, the Elders, have not given instructions to nor have we authorized
David Nahwegahbow, Harry Wawatie, Lousia Papatie, Toby Decoursay and Jeanine
Nottaway to speak on our behalf.
The Mitchikinabikok Elders confirm that the new Customary Council has the
support of the vast majority of the population, except for the former council
members who are not happy with the decision made by the People. "It is time
for them to accept the fact, and for others to respect the People's choice,"
said Chief Casey Ratt. The new Council has been taking important steps to
ensure that the Barriere Lake First Nation's interests and future aspirations
are taken seriously. "We were selected because we were entrusted to give power
back to our People," said Chief Ratt. The Council has been working hard to
implement changes that will result in tangible progress to empower and restore
the dignity of their First Nation.

Contact Information

  • Christal Ratt, Cell: (613) 222-2357