In fall 2016, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake prevented road access for mining work, and sued for any and all mining activity to be halted.
On February 8, 2017, the Quebec government suspended Copper One’s mining claims.
Copper One released a statement saying that it, “Strongly disagrees,” with the government’s decision, and that it would, “continue to exercise its legal rights.”
While the First Nation’s legal work is being done pro-bono, they have little money to spare for other expenses. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake has been under third party governance since 2006, and have little to no influence over distribution of funds.
Lemieux Nolet Inc. has been managing the finances of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake for eleven years. In that time, poverty has increased and the deficit remains.
The community is not on the grid, and is powered by a single diesel generator, which restricts housing expansion, were there the money to build new homes.
“There are no economic opportunities in a 59 acre reserve, where we live in third world conditions,” said Ratt at the dinner.
A delegation of human rights advocates and academics recently visited reserve. After talking with the people living there, and seeing poverty and lack of infrastructure, the delegation denounced the federal and provincial governments’ actions.
“Some delegates on our trip come from places around the world that are escaping civil war, but civil war is exactly what the treatment of Barriere Lake looked like to them,” reads their statement in its concluding paragraph.
At the chili dinner, as the evening turned to solutions, the speakers pointed to reformation of the Quebec Mining Act as a beginning.
Quebec practices free entry mining, whereby one can stake a claim on anyone’s property without requiring a permit, and therefore not triggering any consultation processes with local First Nations. The act has been amended to exclude individual private property, and municipalities can regulate within their boundaries, but the amendments overlook First Nations’ lands.