| Jul 13, 2006


Feature Article - July 6, 2006

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Feature Article - July 6, 2006

Ardoch Algonquins level ground at Pine Lake for community centre and PowWow grounds

by JeffGreen

Last Friday, the early morning quiet at Pine Lake was disturbed when a transport trailer backed carefully off of the Ardoch Road onto a single-lane dirt road leading to a Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) boat launch. The transport trailer dropped off a yellow bulldozer, and for the rest of the morning chainsaws buzzed through small and larger trees, clearing sites on both sides of the road as the bulldozer pushed fallen logs away.

Letters

The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFNA) had begun site preparation for a community centre and Pow Wow grounds. The land they are using is what they call “ Algonquin Land ”. The Ontario ministry of Natural Resources calls the land “ Crown Land ” and is responsible for the administration of such lands.

Members of AAFNA met with MNR officials at the site two weeks earlier, on June 27th.

According to an AAFNA press statement by Robert Lovelace, co-chief and communication team leader for AAFNA, the “MNR requested that we 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. 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.”

The news attempted to contact the MNR officials who were present at the June 27th meeting, but our enquiry was referred to Barry Radford, an MNR communications officer from Toronto .

Radford said that the MNR has been informed that work has begun at the site, but would only say, “I can’t speculate on what the MNR’s next steps will be. The situation is fairly sensitive and rather complicated.”

Radford said he was aware of the June meeting but did not know what was said by either side.

He did say, “ Ontario considers that the land at issue is Crown Land , and we are the agency that administers Crown Land . We have a set process, requiring a land use permit before land can be developed in any way. We review several matters, including public safety before a Land Use Permit is issued.”

As to when the MNR might act on the matter, Radford said, “Again, I wouldn’t speculate on that.”

North Frontenac Township was informed on June 8th that AAFNA was panning to begin site preparation on “Algonquin” or “Crown” Land. At a council meeting on June 22nd, Mayor Maguire was appointed as the liaison between the township and AAFNA. At the same meeting, council passed a four-point motion outlining, in general terms, their position as regards the issue.

The resolution states that: 1. Land ownership is unclear; 2. There are members of the community with apparently unresolved land claims; 3. Council encourages the resolution of the issue (and offers to facilitate); and 4. Council is sympathetic with the situation.

Maguire, along with Deputy Mayor Gleva Lemke and Councillor Bud Clayton, attended an AAFNA meeting in Ardoch on June 24th. After the meeting they were brought to the Pine Lake site.

“They showed us the entire point of land,” Maguire recalls, “and they told us that they were always going to make the cottagers feel welcome and would maintain public access to the boat launch.”

Now that site preparation has been undertaken, Maguire says that he “does not condone what they are doing. At the same time I know what it means to them.”

AAFNA sent out a letter to all residents on Pine Lake on the day they began clearing the site, enlisting their support for their project. The letter reads, in part, “It is our hope that our neighbours on Pine Lake will welcome the development of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation Cultural Centre.”

(For more on this story, see If a Tree Falls.

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