July 08, 2009 23:59 ET

No leadership selection - Keith Penner threatens customary traditions

KITIGANIK, QC, July 8 - Keith Penner, acting as a
"facilitator", has just released a "report" falsely claiming there is a newly
selected Council for the Algonquins of Barrière Lake.
This process was initiated by a small group of members who have never
accepted the legitimate decision of the Algonquins of Barrière Lake when they
followed their Customary Leadership Selection process in January 2008 to
select Casey Ratt as Chief and Ricky Decoursay, Wayne Papatie, Roger Jerome
and Donat Thusky as Councillors. The actions of Mr. Penner and the persons he
represents are an attempt to undermine what was done legitimately. These
actions are viewed as an insult to the Elders, the Customary process, and the
People who acted according to the Customary Code with integrity, good faith
and due process.
The Algonquin Nation Secretariat (ANS) agreed to fund the expenses and
fees for Mr. Penner to act as a "facilitator" representing this small group
who refuses to accept the People's decision to remove the Jean Maurice
Matchewan Council back in January 2008. This small group is actively assisted
by at least three outsiders who benefitted greatly during the Matchewan era;
consultant Russel Diabo, former legal counsel David Nahwegahbow, and ANS Grand
Chief Norman Young. Barriere Lake withdrew membership from the ANS tribal
council due to Norman Young's interference and his refusal to work with the
Council led by Chief Ratt.
Chief Ratt finds it difficult to believe that a person of Mr. Penner's
experience, education, and apparent concerns about the legitimacy of First
Nations Peoples and their governance, would accept to take action without
first conferring with all parties to ascertain the legitimacy of the
initiative. Chief Ratt explained that "the information in Penner's report is
totally false, biased and misleading. Penner has talked with one group, the
group that unilaterally hired him as a 'facilitator'. Based on what he heard
from this one group, he has acted as 'judge' and decided that a certain
process was wrong and needed to be fixed. He and his group set up their own
selection process and claimed that it represented the majority, who have
already spoken and made their selection. That is totally unjust. This is an
arrogant and lingering form of colonialism that seems to say that other people
know what's best for First Nations people. We will no longer allow outsiders
to threaten or interfere in our Customary Governance with their actions and
arrogance. Penner is creating a situation where his report may become a reason
for the Department of Indian Affairs to impose the Indian Act Elections System
on our First Nation."
The Customary Council intends to take the necessary legal actions to
protect the rights of the People and their Customary Governance. With the
support from the People, the legitimate Customary Council continues to appeal
to all members to work together in unity to bring about much needed
improvements to the Barrière Lake First Nation. Chief Ratt explains that they
are determined to move forward to implement changes that will result in real
progress to empower and restore the dignity of Barrière Lake. "Progressive,
positive and concrete steps will be taken to confront the issues facing our
People. It is time for our People to act and uphold our responsibility to
reconcile relationships, create and maintain a safe environment for our
children, youth, men and women, foster education and capability, and move
forward on the basis of mutual respect and legitimacy."

Contact Information

  • Christal Ratt, Cell: (819) 860-8129