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Feature Article - July 6, 2006

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Feature Article - July 6, 2006

MediaStatement Re: AAFNACulturalCentre andPow-WowGround

Algonquin Negotiation TeamJuly 17, 2006

It has come to the attention of the Algonquin Negotiation Team that the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Allies (“AAFNA”) has been clearing a site for a cultural centre and pow-wow ground near the village of Ardoch, Ontario.

The Algonquin Negotiation Team is comprised of elected Algonquin Negotiation Representatives (“ANR’s”) from nine Communities of Algonquins (Antoine, Ardoch, Bancroft, Bonnechere, Greater Golden Lake, Mattawa/North Bay, Ottawa, Sharbot Lake and Whitney) as well as the elected Chief and six elected Councillors of the Algonquins of Pikwanag First Nation. Robert J. Potts is the Principal Negotiator and Senior Legal Counsel.

Amalgamation

The Algonquin Negotiation Team is mandated by the Algonquins of Ontario to participate in comprehensive negotiations that are currently underway and which are focused on the ultimate objective of entering into an Algonquin Treaty with the governments of Canada and Ontario (the “Governments”). The negotiations will address land and natural resource issues, as well as financial transfers and other rights that will be given constitutional protection under section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.

AAFNA is comprised of some persons who have chosen not to participate in the ongoing Algonquin treaty negotiations although we are told that most of its members are of Algonquin ancestry and were eligible to participate in the ANR elections. Notwithstanding that decision ongoing efforts have been, and are being made by the Ardoch ANR and others to communicate with these persons and to solicit their input with respect to the negotiation process.

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 Algonquin aboriginal rights and title. This includes the so-called “Crown land” in question near Ardoch.

The Algonquin treaty negotiations seek to bring clarity and certainty to the rights of Algonquins, other governments and private persons within the Algonquin Territory.

The Algonquin Negotiation Team agrees that while the Algonquin treaty negotiations are underway, Algonquin rights on the land and in relation to the land should not be in any way suspended. The Algonquins have always been prepared to share their territory with newcomers on the basis of mutual respect and goodwill.

At the negotiation table the Algonquin Negotiation Team is seeking to restore a balance to the interests of Algonquins and others within Algonquin Territory. In the interests of fruitful negotiations, the creation of good relationships at the negotiation table, and in the interests of reconciliation it is essential that the exercise of Algonquin aboriginal rights in Algonquin territory be carried out in a way that fosters harmony and good relationships with local, provincial and federal governments, and with private interests.

It is anticipated that the negotiations with the Governments will lead to an Agreement in Principle and then a Treaty, both of which will be put to the Algonquins of Ontario for approval (including all Algonquins in the Ardoch Community). These negotiations will continue to be carried out in as transparent and as inclusive a manner as that process will permit. The settlement, if it is achieved, will not only benefit one Community but also all Algonquins of Ontario. To engage in unilateral action, as the AAFNA group has done is counter-productive and inconsistent with the interests of the Algonquins of Ontario in our collective efforts to find a comprehensive solution to our long outstanding grievances.

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.

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