Within the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) land claims process, several issues are confounding who is Algonquin and who is not Algonquin. It is important for people to reflect on these issues deeply because the people identified will be eligible to vote on the final settlement package that will extinguish, relinquish, define our rights completely, modify, and/or terminate Algonquin land and resource rights. And it will also divide the broader Algonquin Nation that includes the Algonquin living in what is called Quebec. Of course the Algonquin do not need non-Algonquin voting on Algonquin matters. While not comprehensive, I offer here a discussion of many of the issues.
First, the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must address the tyranny of the majority of the non-status. A huge issue that Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership has to contend with is the larger body of non-status Algonquin enrolled through the AOO land claim process. A ratification process that protects Pikwàkanagàn members from the tyranny of this constructed majority, or alternatively said the desires of the majority, has to be deeply considered and practically addressed. Yes, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation members are equal to the other so-called community members, but it is also different in that the people in the other so-called communities are loosely dispersed within various municipalities, townships, cities, and villages. This is not to say that Pikwàkanagàn First Nation is special. Rather, it is to say Pikwàkanagàn First Nation is equal, yet differently equal to the other communities.
Second, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must insist on a strong evidentiary requirement process that insists on ‘certified original copies’ of all archival documents. In the past there was an issue with defining and determining the evidentiary requirements when enrolling people who are potentially Algonquin in the land claims process. When enrolling non-status Algonquin, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must insist on certified original copies of all archival documents – birth, marriage, death, census, baptismal, and letters – regarding Algonquin enrolment and beneficiary status. Sworn affidavits must also be required when the documents cannot be certified as original. This is especially important at the protest stage. People should not be allowed to drop evidence at this stage unless it has undergone a provenance testing process. Contrary to what has been reported on, the process of determining voters has been far from, “very rigorous” (Potts in Vetter, 2017).
Third, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must remove all the non-Indigenous / non-Algonquin root ancestors. It is said that there are two or more French Canadian women on the root ancestor list who are not Algonquin or Indigenous (see Coburn, 2022a and 2022b; Di Gangi and McBride, 2016; Leo 2021a and 2021b; Leroux, 2021 and 2022). They and all their descendants must be removed.
Four, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must remove all the Indigenous yet non-Algonquin root ancestors. It is said that there are a least six Indigenous women who are not Algonquin on the root ancestor list (see Coburn, 2022a and 2022b; Di Gangi and McBride, 2016; Leo, 2021a and 2021b; Leroux, 2021 and 2022). They, and all their descendants, must be removed.
Five, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must remove people enrolled through 16th century Algonquin ancestors where there has been no further intermarriage and cultural exchange (see Di Gangi and McBride, 2016; Leroux, 2021 and 2022). Clearly people assimilated into the Canadian mosaic; people who lack additional intermarriage and a cultural connection; and people who do not demonstrate an Algonquin identity where reciprocity – versus economic or employment as their only agenda – is not part of their personal agency, must be removed.
Six, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must remove all people enrolled through fraudulent documents and letters (see Coburn, 2022a and 2022b; Leo, 2021a and 2021b; Leroux, 2021 and 2022). Again, there is an issue with defining and determining the evidentiary requirements when enrolling people who are potentially Algonquin in the land claim process. The process must insist on ‘certified original copies’ of all archival documents or sworn affidavits.
Seven, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must address the lack of historic and geographic configuration at the AOO table. Once the issues resulting in the large number of non-Algonquin enrollees are addressed it will become more apparent that the current configuration at the AOO table lacks legitimacy. Said another way, the AOO voting configuration must represent Algonquin historic configuration versus false divisions that have led to more AOO Algonquin Negotiation Representatives (ANRs) over Pikwàkanàgan First Nation ANRs. It must be deeply appreciated that the reason the ANRs do not want to address the issue of people appropriating Algonquin identity, also called “the pretendian issue”, is because once it is addressed it will become crystal clear that several of the communities and thus ANRs are not required. Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief and Council are stuck in a circular argument with the very people who benefit from the corruption and appropriation of Algonquin identity, yet there has been four layers of analysis on this very matter (see Coburn, 2022a and 2022b; Di Gangi and McBride, 2016; Leo, 2021a and 2021b; Leroux, 2021 and 2022). The AOO table must be rooted in ‘reason of mind’ versus merely what the heart feels, where the ANR community configuration holds historic and geographic legitimacy (Coburn, 2021).
Eight, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must address the Algonquin descendants of women who are now entitled through the Indian Act amendments of Bill S-3, Bill C-3, and Bill C-31. Many people are aware that due to sex discrimination in the Indian Act many women and their descendants were removed from the community of Pikwàkanagàn (Gehl, 2021). Greater, efforts must be made to have these people registered as per the Indian Act and then encouraged to apply for membership in their mother’s, grandmother’s, great-grandmother’s community. To do otherwise is to entrench the sex discrimination in the Indian Act in the final agreement.
Nine, considering the amendments in the Indian Act, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation must address all situations of double or dual representation. Enrolled Algonquin community members and for that matter ANRs must be enrolled in only one community, not two. It is not good governance or good government on the part of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation for people to be a member of one of the communities as well as a member of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation. The resolution of this matter should encourage the good governance of personal agency within, where if this fails Pikwàkanagàn First Nation leadership must exercise its jurisdiction according to good reasoning and good government practices.
Note: This list is hardly exhaustive.
Coburn, V. (2021, November). Historic Communities Research. Presented During Pikwakanagan First Nation Treaty Pause Meeting.
Coburn, V. (2022a). Genealogy of Thomas St-Jean dit Lagarde (1801-1853ca).
Coburn, V. (2022b). Genealogy of Sophie Emelie Jamme dite Carriere (1807-1886).
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.
Gehl, L. (2021). Gehl v Canada: Challenging Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act. Regina: U of Regina Press.
Leo, G. (2021a, August 9). Mysterious letter linking 1,000 people to $1B Algonquin treaty likely fake, CBC investigation finds. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/letter-lagarde-algonquin-1.6121432?
Leo, G. (2021b, September 13). Push to remove ‘pretendians’ from Algonquin membership rekindled after CBC investigation. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/algonquin-ancestry-lagarde-letter-follow-1.6171830
Leroux, D. (2021, Sept.). Beneficiary Criteria / Root Ancestor Research. First Nation Treaty Pause Meeting.
Leroux, D. (2022). The RHW Treaty Governance Forum [Video]. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LiXdg3dW24&ab_channel=RobinsonHuronWaawiindamaagewin
Vetter, C. (2017, May 17). Treaties and Land Claims. Ottawa Life Magazine.