Jeff Green | Jul 13, 2006
Feature Article - July 6, 2006
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Press ReleaseJuly 4, 2006Ardoch Algonquin First Nation Cultural CentreDevelopment
On July 6th, 2006 the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFNA) will begin the initial stages of building an Algonquin Cultural Centre on traditional Algonquin land near Ardoch , Ontario . Men and women from this small non-status Algonquin community will begin clearing land and preparing the site for construction. The Ardoch Community has been raising money for this project for over five years.
A month ago, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation representatives met with the Township of North Frontenac to advise them of the project. Band Council members and Township Council agreed the project would be beneficial to both native and non-native residents of the area. Both parties understood that the new construction would be on Algonquin land and the jurisdiction of building permits and regulation would rest with the First Nation. The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation Band Council confirmed that construction and site preparation would meet or exceed the provisions of the Municipal Building Code and Official Plan. Municipal and Band Council members met on the proposed site several weeks ago to confirm the location and agreed to be mutually supportive in this endeavour.
On June 27th representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) met with Band Council members on the proposed site. The MNR requested that the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation apply for permission to construct the Algonquin Cultural Centre on Crown Land . Band Council members explained that the land for the proposed building was Algonquin Land , protected for them by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and reaffirmed in the Constitution Act of Canada 1982. Band Council members suggested that if Ontario or Canada had a “bill of sale” or a treaty that conveyed the land to the Crown then they would follow the suggested requirements. Band Council members reminded the MNR
Representatives that the Premier had, a week earlier, requested all parties adhere to the “rule of law” and that is exactly what the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFNA) is doing. Elders explained to the MNR representatives that “times have changed” and that Indian people no longer were going to “knuckle under” to the Province when it denied history and the “rule of law”. The Elders reminded the MNR representatives that Algonquin men from this community had fought in past Wars for the Crown and Algonquins had been allies of the Crown. The Elders asked the MNR to work with them on this project and not demand that they bow to Ontario for the right to build on their own land.
Chief Randy Cota asked the MNR representatives directly to give him assurance that the Province would not act violently against the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation when they began the land clearing operation. The MNR representatives refused to say whether the Province would order action against the Band once they began site preparation.
The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation is an Anishncommunity with a membership of just over 700. The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation receives no support from Canada and is not controlled by the Indian Act. Algonquin communities have not signed treaties and therefore retain all of their Aboriginal rights and title. The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation is not a participant in the Algonquins of Golden Lake Land Claim and dismisses it as corrupt and ill-conceived.
Twenty-five years ago the small Algonquin Community at Ardoch was the scene of one of the most dramatic struggles for Aboriginal rights in Canada . In August and September of 1981 the people of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and their allies from Alderville, Tyendenaga, Curve Lake and Hiawatha fought a 27-day stand-off against Ontario to protect their jurisdiction and responsibility for the manomin (wild rice) which grows in the Mississippi River near Ardoch. The wild rice at Ardoch has been shared for over a hundred and thirty years with pickers from Alderville and Curve Lake . It is the manomin that was preserved from Rice Lake when the construction of the Trent Canal destroyed its habitat there. In 1982, Alan Pope the Minister of Natural Resources at the time, admitted that there was an unsettled question of Aboriginal jurisdiction and that Ontario had no right to impose its authority over the manomin. No subsequent Provincial government has threatened to lay claim to the rice.
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