1. As Indigenous people recover from the colonial past, two components of the Agreement in Principle become crucial to study: the amount of land over which we gain jurisdiction and the amount of resource revenue the province shares.
2. It goes without saying that $280 million and 1.3 per cent of our original land base is not enough for the Algonquin to become self-governing peoples. What is needed is jurisdiction over a larger land base and resources that can be relied upon once the little lump sum payment is exhausted.
3. The shift in federal policy from calling for our rights to be extinguished to calling for our land rights to be relinquished is seen by many – myself included – as a pitiful reform. At the practical level, there is no difference between “extinguishing,” “relinquishing,” and “defining your rights completely.” They all lead to the same outcome. As a result, many people liken the modern-day processes to those of private real estate transactions in line with the European model of treaty-making, where the only right Indigenous people have is the right to surrender land and resources.
4. Eventually, after generations of petitions and only after we were in a particularly pitiful state of poverty and division, Canada entered into a land claims and self-government negotiation process with the Algonquin of Golden Lake, now Algonquin of Pikwàkanàgan First Nation.
5. As an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe eager to experience genuine and meaningful change in the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Nations I was particularly happy to read about your desire to renew the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous nations. In Minister Bennett’s letter you actually mention this intent on three occasions.
6. Canada’s long standing Comprehensive Land Claims Policy requires Indigenous Nations to extinguish their rights in exchange for small amounts of land and one time buy-outs. This amounts to genocide as defined by Raphael Lemkin and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
7. But there are additional issues related to the land claims process. These land claims processes take 25 to 30 years to complete where there is little inherent that serves the most vulnerable due to colonial structures such as women and children. In short the process is not rooted in gender parity where qualified women are given the much needed opportunities.
8. “Gehl is an Algonquin Anishnabe woman who has roots in the Ottawa River valley, though she lives in Peterborough, Ontario. She has, over the years, been involved in various kinds of things related to struggles for survival and for social change. One way of thinking about what brings together those diverse elements for her is that they flow from the act of centring Indigenous ways of knowing, and acting accordingly.”
9. “This book showed me that the many things that I learned in history class, were painted with a white colonial brush. I learned the real story of what has happened and has continued to happen to First Nations people since the first European set foot on the soil of what is now known as Canada. A must read for those wanting to know the truth. The history of the Algonquin people and their struggle to reclaim their land is conveyed in a poignant and unique account of the events both from an academic perspective as well as how they have shaped the author's personal view of her role as an Algonquin woman.” Valerie Beale
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Lynn Gehl, Ph.D. is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. She has a section 15 Charter challenge regarding the continued sex discrimination in The Indian Act, and is an outspoken critic of the Ontario Algonquin land claims and self-government process. She has three books: Anishinaabeg Stories: Featuring Petroglyphs, Petrographs, and Wampum Belts, The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin of the Algonquin Land Claims Process, and Mkadengwe: Sharing Canada's Colonial Process through Black Face Methodology. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see more of her work at www.lynngehl.com.