| Jul 20, 2006


Feature Article - July 20, 2006

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Feature Article - July 20, 2006

Negotiator weighs in on AAFNA actions

by Jeff Green

Robert Potts, the chief negotiator for the Algonquin side in the current land claims process, has called the recent activities of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFNA) “counter productive and inconsistent with the interests of the Algonquins of Ontario in our collective efforts to find a comprehensive solution to our long standing grievances.”

As reported in last week’s Frontenac News, AAFNA has been engaged clearing a piece of land near Pine Lake on the Ardoch Road in North Frontenac Township . They are planning to build a community centre and Pow Wow grounds on the land.

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The land, which is administered as Crown land by the federal and provincial governments, is currently available to the public as a boat launch, and will remain so, AAFNA assures.

While Potts called AAFNA’s actions into question, he stopped short of saying those actions are inconsistent with Algonquin rights.

“The position advanced by the Algonquins of Ontario since negotiations began in 1991 is that all of the land in Ontario within the watersheds of the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers are unceded Algonquin Territory , subject to Aboriginal rights and title. This includes the so-called “ Crown Land ” in question near Ardoch” Potts said in media statement dated July 17th.

AAFNA has chosen not to participate in the land claims process currently being undertaken by the Algonquin Negotiation Team that is led by Potts, a lawyer from Toronto who specialises in land claims negotiations. The Negotiation Team is comprised of nine Algonquin Negotiation Representatives (including one representing Ardoch and one representing Sharbot Lake ) and the chief and band council from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation of Golden Lake.

According to Robert Potts “AAFNA is comprised of some persons who have chosen not to participate in the ongoing Algonquin treaty negotiation although we are told that most of its members are of Algonquin ancestry and were eligible to participate in Algonquin Negotiation Representative elections.”

Potts statement concludes in a more conciliatory manner,

“While the Algonquin Negotiation Team therefore expresses its support for the use of Algonquin Land for Algonquin cultural purposes, at the same time, it urges AAFNA to continue to take a respectful and co-operative approach to the assertion and recognition of all Algonquin rights.”

For its part, AAFNA have little good to say about the land claim process as it has been carried out by Potts and the Algonquin Negotiation Team. On July 4, AAFNA communications officer and co-chief Robert Lovelace wrote, “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.”

Last week, MNR officials went to the Pine Lake site. They observed the clearing that had been done on the site, and subsequently a phone call took place between an MNR official and an AAFNA representative.

Barry Radford, a communications officer with the MNR said that the MNR official “had a cordial discussion with them, and both sides understand each other’s position. Our position is that this is Crown land, and we encouraged AAFNA to seek a land use permit, which is our requirement under the public lands act.”

Robert Lovelace reiterated to the News that AAFNA does not intend to seek a land use permit from the MNR.

Lovelace did say that AAFNA is “encouraged by the cordiality of our relations with the MNR thus far, and we are hoping that we can set up a face-to-face meeting in the near future”.

When asked what the MNR might do if AAFNA goes ahead with their building plans without seeking a permit, Barry Radford said he “does not want to speculate on what will or will not happen.”

Radford did offer that “it would preferable if they would return to the negotiation table for the Algonquin land Claim. That is where issues of land are being handled.”

In the meantime, AAFNA members spent a second weekend on the site, pulling stumps and removing more trees. They are hoping to finish clearing the site and start bringing in gravel to level it out in the coming weeks.

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