Police attack Algonquin families at peaceful blockade
Canada and Quebec use riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" on peaceful Algonquin families to avoid negotiations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October, 7, 2008
Canada and Quebec use riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" on peaceful Algonquin families to avoid negotiations: 'pain compliance' perfect description of Conservative's aboriginal policy, say community spokespeople
Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory -- Yesterday afternoon, the Conservative government and Quebec used riot police, tear gas, and "pain compliance" techniques to end a peaceful blockade erected by Algonquin families from Barriere Lake, rather than negotiate, as requested by the community. The blockade on Highway 117 in Northern Quebec began at 6:00am Monday, with nearly a hundred community members of all ages and their supporters promising to remain until Canada's Conservative government and Quebec honoured signed agreements and Barriere Lake's leadership customs. Around 4pm, nearly sixty Quebec officers and riot police encircled families after a meal and without warning launched tear gas canisters, one of which hit a child in the chest.
"Our demands are reasonable," said Norman Matchewan, a spokesperson who was racially slurred by Minister Lawrence Cannon's assistant earlier in the election. "We're only asking for the government to uphold the agreements they've signed and to stop illegally interfering in our customary governance. The message we've received today is that Stephen Harper and Jean Charest are unwilling to even play by their rules."
"We will not tolerate these brutal violations of our rights," added Matchewan. "Forestry operations will not be allowed on our Trilateral agreement territory, and we will be doing more non-violent direct action."
Nine people, including an elderly women, a pregnant woman, and two minors, were roughly arrested. While a line of police obscured the view of human rights observers from Christian Peacemaker Teams, officers used severe "pain compliance" techniques on protestors who had secured themselves to concrete-filled barrels, twisting arms, dislocating jaws, leaving them with bruised faces and trouble swallowing.
"In this election alone, the Conservatives have labelled us alcoholics and vilified our community's majority as "dissidents," said Michel Thusky, another community spokesperson, referring to an op-ed published by Minister Lawrence Cannon in regional newspapers. "Now they and Quebec have chosen violence over meeting their most basic obligations to our community. 'Pain compliance' is the perfect description of the Conservative government's aboriginal policies."
Barriere Lake community members had promised to maintain the blockade until the Government of Canada honoured the 1991 Trilateral agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. To end federal interference in their leadership customs, they wanted the Government of Canada to appoint observers to witness a leadership reselection according to their codified customary selection code, respect its outcome, and then cease interfering in their internal governance.