|Back to Home||Feature Article - August 2, 2012|
Fractured Homeland – Timely book about the state of Ontario Algonquin communitiesby Jeff Green
This summer, confidential meetings are taking place to apprise municipal officials and some other stakeholders about some specific parcels of land. These lands are to be included in an agreement in principle for the Ontario Algonquin Land Claim, an agreement that is slated to be completed in 2013, according to the federal, provincial, and Algonquin negotiating teams.
As we have outlined in these pages, the Algonquin Land Claim process is an anomaly among Canadian land claims in its inclusion of communities of Algonquin individuals whose aboriginal heritage has have never been recognized by the Canadian government. The land claim process itself is the only official recognition these people have and only with the culmination of the process in a treaty will any kind of formal designation as aboriginal peoples be realized.
As the Algonquin Land Claims process has proceeded since 1991, in all its fits and starts, it has both created interest among Algonquin's in their heritage, and created divisions and bitter disagreement as groups have come together and split apart, often over the direction the land claims processes has been proceeding.
At the same time questions about the history of Algonquin peoples in Ontario and Quebec have lingered. What was Algonquin Culture along the Kiji Sibi (now Ottawa) river watershed before the French came in the 1600's? What happened after that? How can a land claim that splits Algonquin territory into two along the very river that was the Center of Algonquin heritage and political power and settles only with the remaining population on one side be legitimate in the eyes of Algonquin's and Canadians in general?
As the Algonquin land claim heads towards it conclusion, Bonita Lawrence, an Associate Professor in the Department of Equity Studies at York University where she teaches Indigenous Studies, is releasing Fractured Homeland – Federal recognition and Algonquin identity in Ontario.
The book is the culmination of 7 years of research, and represents an extension of Lawrence's academic and personal interest in urban aboriginal identity and fragmentation, which was the subject of her PHD thesis and an earlier book.
Fractured Homeland provides a historical background to Algonquin history and governance and, and interviews with a number of the people involved in the development of the land claims process, and those communities who would like to see the claim abandoned altogether.
It also contains sections on Algonquin communities in Frontenac County and on some of the politics around the land claim in this region and others as well.
Fractured Homelands will be having its official launch in Ottawa on August 11 at the Minwaashin Lodge at 24 Catherine Street. For further information, go to Ipsmo.org.
(In a future edition, the News will look more closely at Fractured Homeland and its implications to the oncoming debate over the Algonquin Land Claim.