The Algonquin land claims settlement is a pitiful settlement: $300 million one-time buy-out and 1.3% of our traditional territory. We need to focus on this and stop with the identity politics.
I am a non-status Algonquin in Ontario. Many people know I have a long standing Charter challenge about the issue of unknown and unstated paternity and the Indian Act. I completed my Masters work on Indigenous identity and so I am well versed on the issues related to Indigenous identity politics. I also completed my doctoral work on the Algonquin land claims processing where I decided to walk away from it because I learned it is rooted in colonial policy that serves the nation state of Canada and not Indigenous Nations.
Like all Algonquins in Ontario I went through the lengthy and rigorous Algonquin Enrolment Law process which requires Algonquin link themselves to an ancestor on an official list. There are many issues with the ancestral list in that they have been shaped by census records and thus patriarchy, and also there is the issue that many Indigenous people know who they are via the oral tradition. It must be valued that many Algonquin had to push who they were underground to survive the onslaught of colonization. Further it must be valued that despite our ancestors’ efforts only one reserve community was created: Pikwakanagan First Nation. These realities, though, do not mean that non-status people are not Algonquin. Of course we are Algonquin. It was precisely for these reasons that an additional mechanism was put in place in the land claims to make sure the process was inclusive of all Algonquin. While I am no fan of the land claims process this inclusivity was a good thing.
Yes, there was a time in the Algonquin land claims process where some “leaders” began to manipulate the Algonquin Enrolment Law process with hunting rights in their favour so they would be voted in as a representative and thus gain a paycheck from the process. While I could talk more about this, I cannot do it here as it requires a lengthy discussion. I posted links below for people who are interested in learning more. It is important to know that eventually many people enrolled, and whose identities were not confirmed rigorously, had to undergo a hearing to determine if they would remain included. It is my understanding that eventually approximately 300 people were removed from the Algonquin Enrolment Law process where as such they cannot vote on the final agreement.
When Quebec chiefs argue the larger body of non-status Algonquin in Ontario are not real Aboriginal people when in fact it is well known that there are more non-status than status Algonquin they offer a critique that has many limitations and an argument that can be easily discredited. The real issue and critique must focus on the colonial policies that set us up for pitiful settlements.
Alternatively stated, while I stand with the Algonquin Chiefs on the horrors of the land claims process, we need to focus on the termination of Indigenous rights and jurisdiction through unilaterally constructed colonial polices, rather than engage in a process of discrediting Indigenous people with a weak understanding and argument of identity politics.
What is more, it should not be assumed that non-status people will vote yes. I am hearing that many are voting no. I am sure the same applies to the status Algonquin.
I am hopeful that this vote is successfully ratified as a no vote. This is where my tobacco offerings are directed toward.
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