"Chief Haymond of Kebaowek First Nation echoed the idea that many of the people who voted in the main referendum did not meet reasonable eligibility requirements".
"... such as the Badour, Cota, and Hollywood families are no longer included in the Algonquin Land Claim".
I am a member of Pikwakanagan First Nation. The Algonquin history is a terrible history. While it is more complex, for the most part the French of New France allocated reserves for Algonquin without treaty. When the French lost to the British, they realized they needed to respect the French as allies in part because they had populated the land and thus held power. Then moving around the top of the Great Lakes and out across the plains all the way to the mountains the British treatied with Indigenous Nations creating reserves as they colonized the land and waterscapes. As the British did this they refused to treaty with the Algonquin Nation. Today there are Algonquin reserves in both Quebec and in Ontario: nine and one respectively. Yet, in both Quebec and Ontario not all Algonquin live on reserve land as some communities were denied. As a result not all Algonquin are affiliated with a recognized First Nation where consequently many are not registered as status Indians as defined by the Indian Act.
Finally, after more than 250 years since the 1764 Treaty at Niagara, it was in the early 1990s when Canada and Ontario agreed to enter into a land claim process with Pikwakanagan taking the "lead". This process of accepting the land claim limited to the Ontario side of the river is laden with many legitimate critiques. Many Algonquin people, and rightly so, are not happy with the division of our great territory. As Algonquin Anishinaabe and leading thinker Dr. Veldon Coburn has pointed out, our territory should be a province in its own right where we manage our own land and resources. Sadly today Canada continues to hold the power, in the form of our resources, and continues to deny who the Algonquin are as a larger collective that spans across our mighty river. In taking this approach Canada is continuing to impose the colonial genocide the Doctrine of Discovery has unleashed. It is my thought that Canada is particularly motivated to harm the Algonquin, and horribly so, because its parliament buildings illegally squat on Algonquin territory.
Eventually Pikwakanagan was placed in a situation of having to identify the non-status Algonquin as the Indian Act embodies sex discrimination; and also identify the Algonquin who were never affiliated with a federally recognized First Nation. This process of identifying has been very hard, but it is important that this be completed in a good and reasoned way because non-Algonquin people should not be voting on a final Algonquin land claim, especially a land claim that offers us so little, and that is, as Russell Diabo correctly argues, is primarily rooted in our termination as Indigenous Nations.
Most people know I am well versed in issues of Indigenous identity politics and wellness. I completed my masters on the topic, and then there is the 30 year plus effort I took to protect Indigenous women and their children from the sex discrimination in the Indian Act (Gehl, 2017). Less people, though, are aware that I completed my doctoral work on the Algonquin land claim process as it was unfolding in Ontario. As such I know these land claim processes are rooted in colonial genocide (Gehl, 2014). During my learning I was intrigued by the counter hegemonic position that Bob Lovelace offered who lived in the Ardoch area and who helped structure what became then the “Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Allies”. I had questions, though, in terms of who the Ardoch members were. Eventually I learned that Harold Perry and his relatives are Algonquin, but the larger presence of non-Algonquin was always puzzling to me. Although offered, I never became a member of Ardoch because it was not my community. I was from Pikwakanagan, even if they denied me because of the very bloody Indian Act.
Today, as the Algonquins in Ontario (AOO) move closer toward voting on a final land claim things are heating up; well more like boiling over. Thanks to a CBC investigation by Geof Leo and the experts he relied on, and reports put forward by other valued researchers, we have discovered that there could be as many as 4,000 people enrolled in the AOO process who should not be. Many are enrolled through fraudulent documents, and many are enrolled through a 16th or 17th century ancestor without subsequent community interaction, cultural continuity, and community responsibility. Some of these people enrolled are scholars seeking well paid employment positions. This is important to value because employed scholars shape knowledge production through such things like admitting students into their programs, shaping curriculum and thus shaping minds, passing students through their comprehensive exams and the ethic review process, and through writing letters for scholarships and employment.
The point is that we have many people claiming to be Algonquin who are not, both in terms of Ardoch and in terms of the Algonquins of Ontario land claim. When Ardoch members argue that they are being challenged because they are against the land claim, this is not correct, and is in fact a misleading obfuscation. The issue is the need for the Algonquin to clearly determine who is and who is not legitimate regardless if you are pro land claim or anti land claim.
I have read the First Peoples Group’s July 7, 2022 report titled “Gii-Ikidonaaniwan–It Has Been Said”, about how it is that Queen’s University has become complicit in wrongly representing who is and who is not Algonquin. In reading this report, of course I understand that knowledge is shaped by both the methodology and methods employed, as well as shaped by the amount of money and time allocated to the research and final knowledge production. This is the case with all knowledge productions. Of course questions generate and shape knowledge. Regardless, after reading Gii-Ikidonaaniwan as an Algonquin intellectual I felt it represented a good qualitative analysis of what Queen’s University students would be concerned with.
I also read the unauthored / unsigned Ardoch response dated August 3, 2022 to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan and feel that it is too defensive and nastily so. What struck me most is that whoever wrote the response projected too much off of the issue of who is and who is not a federal recognized First Nation, which Ardoch is not; as well as projected off the issue of Indian status registration. The Ardoch response then proceeds to rely too heavily on the Supreme Court of Canada in making the claim of who Ardoch is. I find this odd because both the Indian Act and the Supreme Court of Canada are colonial institutions. Clearly the agency of one or two individuals carrying a court case forward all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada does not legitimate the existence of an entire First Nation community. Further, for the most part court processes rest on the material presented in paper form versus what is really happening on the land. Most people understand the limitations of the methodology of legal positivism and the process of resting truth on evidence, evidence that is shaped and mediated by power. Truth is not found or identified through the legal system. I know this all too well through Gehl v Canada (2017). Interestingly, it was the current Chancellor of Queen’s University, the Honourable Murray Sinclair, who wrote the Gehl clauses now present in the Indian Act.
It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be for the leadership to clearly stand up and identify who they are as Algonquin. It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be for the Ardoch leadership to clearly name who their Algonquin root ancestors are. It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be offering a clear explanation of how many of their members descend from these Algonquin root ancestors. It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be offering a clear explanation of how many of the Ardoch members are adopted. It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be to offer a discussion of who their membership clerk is with an explanation of their qualifications as an archivist and genealogist. It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be a clear explanation of its membership criteria. It is my thought that a better Ardoch response to Gii-Ikidonaaniwan would be offering a clear list of the Ardoch membership. In short, I don’t think a harsh critique of Gii-Ikidonaaniwan was the best way to go. The larger Algonquin Nation, Queen’s University and their students are deserving of better truth. Nor do I think obfuscating through Supreme Court decisions is the way to go. Both the Supreme Court of Canada and the Indian Act are rooted on colonial oppression and the methodology of legal positivism.
Finally, non-Indigenous people, or people who have picked up an ancient Indigenous ancestor to claim they are Algonquin, must respect that it has to be genuine Algonquin people who take up positions in universities because it is them who understand what we need. They need to move aside in a humble way. When people appropriate Algonquin identity, they are more likely to be subservient and compliant to someone else’s agenda. The Algonquin Nation needs genuine Algonquin who are well rooted in who they are as Algonquin because it is them who best understand the issues, and who best understand the importance of relying on Anishinaabe methodologies and methods, that in turn shape Algonquin knowledge productions, and thus subsequently serve to change policy and legislation in the direction needed for the Algonquin.
Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe-IKwe
Di Gangi, P., & McBride, A. (2016). Review of AOO Voter’s List of December 2, 2015. Algonquin Nation Secretariat Analysis of AOO Voter’s List. https://www.scribd.com/doc/300528995/Algonquin-Nation-Secretariat-Analysis-of-AOO-Voters-List-Feb-25-2016
Leo, G. (2021a, August 9). Mysterious letter linking 1,000 people to $1B Algonquin treaty likely fake, CBC investigation finds. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/letter-lagarde-algonquin-1.6121432?
Leroux, D. (2021, Sept.). Beneficiary Criteria / Root Ancestor Research. First Nation Treaty Pause Meeting.
Leroux, D. (2022). The RHW Treaty Governance Forum [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LiXdg3dW24&ab_channel=RobinsonHuronWaawiindamaagewin