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Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation

January 25, 2007

Open Letter to Mr. Bob Potts


Principal Negotiator
Algonquin Negotiations Representatives
Via e-mail

Mr. Potts,

Please accept this correspondence as part of our continued communications regarding the ongoing denial of
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation participation at the current Algonquin Land Claim Negotiations table,
or Algonquin Treaty processes.

The Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation has asserted their right to remain independent of the existing
organized body of Algonquins in Ontario based on two general concerns, both associated with our
existence as a distinct Algonquin community. The first concern is that participating under the terms of the
existing process and structures abrogates and derogates our interpretation of our constitutionally protected
rights, as well as severely affects the traditional normative order of Algonquin governance and tradition.
The second concern is our lack of confidence in the processes and governing structure of the current
process, particularly regarding Indian Act band dominance, as well as the lack of appropriate anti-
corruption mechanisms, which contradicts traditional norms as well. While Aboriginal in Canadian law
includes Indian, Inuit and Metis people, it does not exclude other Aboriginal groups, nor does the
term “Indian” specifically define those only recognized through the Indian Act. ( s. 35(2) of the
Constitution Act, 1982 (Canada), enacted as Schedule B to the Canada Act, 1982 (U.K.) 1982, c. 11.)

It was hoped that the recognition of the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation and their inherent rights
would have been a friendlier process.

But as Martin Luther King so astutely observed “We know through painful experience that
freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

The Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation has for more than three years now been formally
expressing our assertion of inherent right to self-determined participation in any negotiation
process. It was hoped that the Kichesipirini Algonquins would be voluntarily included in a manner
that does not derogate our right to be involved in negotiations, as a entity however that option does
not seem possible at this time.

Contrary to Mr Potts repeated suggestions that we have been offered an opportunity to participate
as has everyone else, referring to the past election process, we should again state that we have
repeatedly communicated that such participation would negate our rightful inherent identity and
role, compromising our right to political autonomy, and would be associating ourselves with what
we see as a severely flawed governance system. The refusal to participate in that process should

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not in any way be used to deny us our legitimate right and I should again draw your attention to
the fact that section 5 of the July, 2004 does state that “The decision whether or not any group
should be recognized as a Community of Algonquins pursuant to paragraphs 2 (i), 3 and 4 shall be
made by the Electoral Officer who will consult the applicants, the Enrolment Officer and the
Parties in making his or her decision. The Electoral Officer's decision in that regard shall be final
for purposes of the election in question, but is without prejudice to any subsequent application for
recognition as a Community of Algonquins for election or other purposes related to the Treaty
Negotiations.”

While we respect the rights of other Algonquins to organize themselves and form associations as
they see appropriate, as the right to self-determination, the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation is
not willing to substitute nationhood in exchange for “Community” participation as offered in the
mentioned process, as this would constitute a derogation of our inherent rights. Knowing that the
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation meets all the criteria necessary for recognition as an
Algonquin Nation, as well as possessing specific governance rights, and knowing that we
represent Algonquin constituents residing within the Province of Ontario, we are aware that any
refusal to include the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation in land claim negotiations would, in the
least, constitute, a deliberate breach of the agreed objectives of this claim and deliberately
jeopardize the negotiations process.

The Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation is an integral part of the historic, or traditional
governance system. Our existence can be traced to post-contact historical documents as far back as
1603. We were clearly identified as being the largest and most powerful Algonquin community.
That power was largely derived from our traditional role as trade negotiators and international
diplomats. Since the purpose of s. 35(1) is to reconcile the prior presence of
aboriginal peoples in North America with the assertion of Crown sovereignty, it is clear from this
statement that s. 35(1) must recognize and affirm both aspects of that prior presence – first, the
occupation of land, and second, the prior social organization and distinctive cultures of aboriginal
peoples on that land. (Delgamuukw para 141) The right to maintain our distinctive Algonquin identity
and culture is therefore constitutionally protected.

It is our belief that the law states that the exercise of Aboriginal rights, especially within unceded
territory, are not dependent on Treaty or court decisions, but exist as inherent Aboriginal rights.
These rights exist apart from, and prior to, the existence of the Indian Act, or the formal
recognition of the Indian Act band of Golden Lake (Pikwakanagan) formed in 1873. The
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation is adamantly asserting our inherent right to be participating
at the negotiations table, according to our inherent rights as the traditional political representative
of the Kichi Sibi Anishnabe Algonquin people.

Kichesipirini Algonquins also maintain the right to determine their own membership and beneficiaries. The
right to self-determination, a fundamental principle of international human rights law, and (1) is an
individual and collective right to “freely determine . . . political status and [to] freely pursue . . . economic,
social and cultural development.” (2) The principle of self-determination is generally linked to the de-
colonization process that took place after the promulgation of the United Nations Charter of 1945. The
Kichesipirini Algonquins have the right to determine their own membership, as a distinct historic
Algonquin nation and are not required to adhere to the Algonquin Nation Standardized Identification
Criteria. The Kichesipirini Algonquins also have the right to adequate financial resources to support the

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maintenance and administration of their own membership, and the interference of such can be construed
allegedly as complicity to genocide.

The creation of the Indian Act and the transference of all federal recognition of Algonquins in
Ontario solely to the Indian Act band of Golden Lake (Pikwakanagan), at the exclusion of the
Kichesipirini and all other Algonquins, has robbed the entire Algonquin people of access to
billions of resource revenue dollars. The resulting status-centric manipulation of the Algonquin
identity has negatively affected the lives and identities of thousands of indigenous Canadians,
including the many descendents of the Kichesipirini Algonquins thus deprived of their rightful
political recognition and ancestral identity, gravely interfering with basic human rights and
dignities. The limited recognition now offered the descendents of the previously unrecognized
Algonquins, apart from an Algonquin Nation that does not afford the full recognition of the
Kichesipirini, is offensive.

It is our assertion that the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation, in attempts to separate us from our
resources and jurisdiction, has repeatedly endured numerous forms of genocide.

The term "genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) in 1943 from the roots genos
(Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin - occidere or cideo - to massacre). Lemkin's idea
of genocide as an offense against international law was widely accepted by the international
community and was one of the legal bases of the Nuremberg Trials. Lemkin said about the
definition of genocide in its original adoption for international law at the Geneva Conventions:
“Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation,
except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to
signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of
the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of
such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language,
national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of
the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to
such groups.” (emphasis added)

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,


Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948,
Clearly prohibits all forms of genocide. Article 4 states:

The following acts shall be punishable:

• (a) Genocide;
• (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
• (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
• (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
• (e) Complicity in genocide.

The Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation existed as an autonomous indigenous nation, connected
through cooperative alliances with other Algonquin communities. The creation of an Algonquin
Nation void of this specific entity, but inclusive of its history and territory, even if perpetuated by
other indigenous, or even Algonquin entities, still has the same result; the destruction of the
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation, which is genocide. The federal recognition of the Indian Act

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band of Golden Lake resulted in the disintegration of the political and social institutions of the
Kichesipirini and the traditional Algonquin government. That allowed only a small percentage of
the Algonquin people to receive some compensation while the vast majority were ‘erased’ from
the record and robbed of their national feelings, freedom, and economic existence.

Lemkin observed two fundamental phases of genocide: “Genocide has two phases: one,
destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group: the other, the imposition of the national
pattern of the oppressor.” (Raphael Lemkin, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe”, Concord, NH: Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace/Rumford Press, 1944, p 79)

The imposition of the Indian Act on the Algonquin people certainly meets both those criteria.

Genocide is further described at the 1947 U.N. committee that produced the Draft Convention on
Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide as: “..what is at issue is the ‘destruction of a
[recognizably distinct] human group, even though the individual members survive.” (UN Doc. E/A.C.
25/S.R. 1-28) (emphasis added)

A more sophisticated method of genocide would involve less obvious means, carried out in
gradual increments, such as those identified by Zygmunt Bauman in Modernity and the Holocaust;
“Ordinarily genocide is rarely if at all, aimed at the total annihilation of the group;
the purpose of the violence (if the violence is purposeful and planned) is to destroy the marked
category (a nation, a tribe, a religious sect) as a viable community capable of self-perpetuation and
defense of its own self-identity. If this is the case, the objective of the genocide is met once 1) the
volume of violence has been large enough to undermine the will and resilience of the sufferers,
and to terrorize them into surrender to the superior power and into acceptance of the order it
imposed; and 2) the marked group has been deprived of resources necessary for the continuation
of the struggle.”( Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, p 27)

Clearly, under the conditions of the current land claims negotiations the Kichesipirini Algonquins
are being deprived of self-perpetuation and defense of our own identity, and we have been clearly
deprived of the resources necessary for the continuation of the struggle.

The term forcibly “is not restricted to physical force, but may include threat of force or coercion,
such as that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or abuse of
power; or taking advantage of a coercive environment.” (PCICC ft. 5). (emphasis added)

We assert that the options dictated us by the current land claim negotiations table correspond to
those aspects of genocide described further by Bauman, “Often the members of a targeted
oppressed group are offered a place in the new order on terms set by the victors--but which sequel
is chosen depends fully on the conquerors whim. Whichever option has been selected, the
perpetrators of genocide benefit. They extend and solidify their power and eradicate the roots of
the opposition.” (Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, p 27) (emphasis added)

It should be noted that persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article
3, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide “shall be punished,
whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals”.
(emphasis added)

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Lemkin’s original conception of genocide expressly recognized that a group could be destroyed by
attacking any unique aspects of the group. By limiting genocide to its physical and biological
manifestations, a group can be kept physically and biologically intact even as its collective identity
suffers in a fundamental and irremediable manner. Put another way, the present understanding of
genocide preserves the body of the group but allows its very soul to be destroyed. The preservation
of the Island community is a part of the Algonquin soul.

Related to genocide are the concepts of cultural genocide and politicide. Israeli sociologist Baruch
Kimmerling defines politicide as “a gradual but systematic attempt to cause their (Palestinians)
annihilation as an independent political and social entity”. (Politicide: Sharon’s War Against the
Palestinians)(emphasis added) The Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation are clearly, based on the terms
being offered, being subjected to a gradual but systematic attempt to cause their annihilation as an
independent political and social entity. Even the reality that this systemic annihilation is being
“officially” refered to other Algonquins for completion is powerful testimony to the already
existing deeper, spiritual genocide of the genuine Algonquin Nation, willing to collaborate in the
disintregration of their original political and social institutions.

Cultural genocide is recognized as the deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of a people or
nation for political, economic or military reasons. Article 7 of the “United Nations Draft
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”,(26 August 1994), defines “Cultural genocide” as
Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and
cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:

(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct
peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or
resources;
(c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining
any of their rights;
(d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them
by legislative, administrative or other measures;
(e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.

Clearly, each and every article named above applies to the “People of the Island”. We have been
deprived of our integrity as a distinct Algonquin people, and our long history as an ethnically
diverse political entity. We have clearly been dispossessed of our traditional lands, territories and
resources. A significant portion of our population has been lured away to Indian Act recognition,
or other community recognition, which has most definitely undermined and violated many of their
inherent rights. Numerous legislative and administrative measures have been imposed on the
Kichesipirini in an attempt to eradicate our identity, and the related attachment to territory,
jurisdiction, and resources.

Within the current context there has been no formal communications asserting Kichesipirini rights,
or in the very least recommending that the assertions deserve exploration. All formal
communications instead continuously praise the questionable legitimacy of the current process. It
cannot be argued that the Kichesipirini Algonquins, through the continued rejection by the
government and social representatives, as well as Algonquin representatives at the negotiations
table, are currently experiencing continued cultural genocide.

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The International Covenant on the Rights of Indigenous includes under “ethnocide and cultural
genocide”:

“Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them [indigenous peoples] of
their integrity as distinct societies, or of their cultural or ethnic characteristics or
identities; Any form of forced assimilation or integration by imposition of other
cultures or ways of life by way of communications media, religious or educational
institutions, governmental legislation, administration or other measures or
means;....” (Center for World Indigenous Studies (1994) International Covenant on the Rights of
Indigenous Nations (Geneva). (emphasis mine)

It should be noted that although the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was
endorsed by the United Natins this past year only two countries openly opposed it; Canada and
Russia.

The Canadian delegate claimed that it has “no legal effect” in Canada.

Every person of Aboriginal ancestry in Canada needs to devout serious attention to the issue.
Every Canadian citizen needs to sit up and pay attention as Canada is declaring themselves above
international law.

The federal and provincial governments however cannot continue to easily delegate away or avoid
their responsibilities. They are obligated to negotiate with all legitimate entities. Since the federal
and provincial governments are “allocating” the financial resources for the negotiations process,
and since the Kichesipirini Algonquins have not had the necessary resources made available to
them to promote and preserve their inherent identity and rights, and by coercing Kichesipirini
Algonquins to participate in a process that in effect violates and undermines their inherent
indigenous identity and rights, the federal and provincial governments could be considered guilty
of complicity to genocide, which has does have legal effect here.

Regardless of under what authority genocide is done, it is formulated, planned, and conducted by
individuals, and it is individuals that the International Criminal Court, (ICC), will prosecute for the
crime of genocide. Unlike the International Court of Justice that only adjudicates disputes between
states, the ICC is a criminal tribunal that will indict individuals.

Indigenous people have the right to seek redress for damages associated with genocide, holding
individuals accountable. Clauses attempting to hold the Algonquin polity accountable for liabilties
would be recognized as irresponsible and oppressive to the Algonquin people, and offer no legal
protection to the individuals concerned.

The Algonquin people exercised sophisticated models of governance prior to European contact
that were already exercising models of responsible and representative government as community
norms long before the European imperial systems. Unlike other Algonquin communities the
Kichesipirini Algonquins possess an inherent role with regards to diplomacy and trade. This has
been documented as a specific aspect of the uniqueness of their identity. The Kichesipirini
Algonquins role has been validated through historic records, government documents, and
academic research, particularly the renowned work of Aboriginal academic and lawyer Darlene

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Johnston. In fact, Darlene Johnston, in her materials submitted for the Ipperwash Inquiry, includes
specific references to the uniqueness of the Kichesipirini Algonquins. The recognition of the
Kichesipirini Algonquins holds tremendous positive potential for the Algonquin people.

The Kichesipirini Algonquins have a well-established and thoroughly documented place in


Canadian history, as Canadians, that pre-dates Confederacy by more than 200 years. The Crown is
under a moral, if not legal, duty to enter into and conduct negotiations in good faith. The
establishment of genuine reconciliation with the Aboriginal people of Canada would require that a
community with such a long history in the development of Canada should be included in this new
era.

Two well recognized motives for genocide are to destroy a group that is perceived as a threat to
the ruling power, or for the pursuit of economic gain. The Kichesipirini nation played a pivotal
role in the development of Canada long before Confederation and their jurisdiction is inseparable
from the economic expansion of the continent. Unique to Kichesipirini identity and governance is
our attachment to the Ottawa River. Also unique to the Kichesipirini identity is documented
diverse economic activity. The inclusion of the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation, on our terms
presented, brings greatly expanded rights to the broader Algonquin community. Unlike the other
groups it can be proven that we were involved in a wide range of economic activities and can
therefore claim those as inherent rights. In Van der Peet, the Court set out the following test:
In order to be an aboriginal right an activity must be an element of a practice, custom or tradition
integral to the distinctive culture of the aboriginal group claiming the right.(para. 46) The
willingness of other Algonquin communities to reject this opportunity, combined with the lack of
anti-corruption mechanisms raises serious concerns for the Kichesipirini Algonquins.

It should be noted that according then to established Kichesipirini jurisdiction we possess the
legal right to have collected a fee on every log floated through the territory during the timber rush,
as well as collect percentages of monies derived from hydro electricity generated from the Ottawa
River. Not to mention mining. There alone is motive enough.

A careful analysis of Kichesipirini history and the time of their alleged “disappearance” from
public record, the development of “Indian” policy and controls of “Indian land” and resources
leading up to, and including, the Indian Act, all coincide with the increased encroachment and
economic exploitation of the Ottawa Valley. The convenient disappearance of the Kichesipirini
has allowed for the unhindered plunder of resources, at the expense of a significant proportion of
Ottawa Valley residents, delegating the rightful stewards and beneficiaries of those resources to
work as cheap labourers within their own territories. History must not be allowed to repeat itself.

Aboriginal title is not just a property right - it is also a constitutionally protected right. Because it is
recognized and affirmed as an Aboriginal right by section 35(l) of the Constitution Act, 1982,51 it is
accorded protection against government interference that no other property rights in Canada enjoy. In order
to further the continued economic exploitation would it not be more profitable for numerous organizations,
even possibly certain Aboriginal organizations, to just attempt to negotiate away the Kichesipirini rather
than deal with the injustices?

Those injustices have meant that millions of dollars have gone into the hands of just a few, rather than into
the homes of families that have struggled needlessly with poverty and hardship for generations.

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Despite repeated declarations of our rights neither the federal or provincial governments have
exercised their obligation to consult with us directly, or have been willing to offer any acceptable
accommodation. Numerous court cases have determined that there is a right to consult with an
Aboriginal people prior to their proof of title being proven in court. That obligation also applies to
third parties, such as business, corporations and municipalities. Unfortunately, throughout
Algonquin territory much have that consultation has only involved the Algonquins of
Pikwakanagan. Whereas it can be assumed that most third parties would not be aware of the
complications affecting the Algonquin situation and the illegal denial of Kichesipirini rights, the
Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the ANRs currently at the table, and the federal and provincial
governments are all well aware. The duty to consult and seek an accommodation does not arise
simply from any specific court analysis of s. 35. It stands on the broader fiduciary footing of the
Crown’s relationship with the Aboriginal people who are under its protection. In other words, the
infringement of aboriginal governance rights, such as the continued rejection of the Kichesipirini,
are also subject to judicial scrutiny and remedy prior to their being proven. And associated with
those rights are the rights to seek compensation for the infringement.

Any attempts to further expropriate or illegitimately apply the Kichesipirini identity to any other
Aboriginal community, federally recognized or not, could be construed as political interference
and continued, sophisticated acts of oppression.

Kichesipirini Algonquins were active participants in collective Anishnabe initiatives. Any attempts
to further “re-vitalization” of historical confederacies involving Kichesipirini territory or political
jurisdiction, or any initiatives of “restoration of jurisdiction”, whether federally or provincially
funded, or not, alternative governance councils or circles, concerning Kichesipirini Algonquin
First Nation territory or jurisdiction are considered illegitimate, and may be construed as acts of
genocide. Any creation of alternative justice systems, court actions and decisions disrespecting the
territory and jurisdiction of the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation may be construed as acts of
genocide.

The Kichesipirini Algonquins clearly held a unique position regarding the use and jurisdiction of
the Ottawa River. Any actions concerning the use, protection, promotion, or financial exploitation
of the river that fails to acknowledge Kichesipirini jurisdiction and seek consultation, whether they
have consulted an other Algonquin community or not, shall be considered an breach of Aboriginal
right.

Recognizing the deliberate intent to ignore Kichesipirini rights we have no other alternative at this
time except to interpret any continued political activity that ignores, distracts or derogates from
Kichesipirini legitimacy as continued complicity to genocide.

So, in answer to the question asked so often by so few “Why aren’t the Kichesipirini Algonquins
involved in Land Claim negotiations?”

Considering the tremendous amount of evidence proving Kichesipirini existence and jurisdiction;
considering the large numbers of persons of direct Kichesipirini descent; and considering the
tremendous amounts of wealth associated with the Kichesipirini identity that can be accessed for
the Algonquin people; we want to know why aren’t all Algonquins asking “Why aren’t the
Kichesipirini Algonquins involved in Land Claim negotiations?”

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It is our interpretation that such a situation is the current manifestation of the sad effects of a very
old, well-structured systematic and sophisticated ongoing genocide of a distinct Canadian
Aboriginal nation.

So to reiterate, the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation has refused to participate at the Algonquin
Treaty or Land Claim negotiations table according to the terms unilaterally offered by Mr. Potts,
representing the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the A.N.N.D. and the other associated ANRs
because doing so would be an abrogation and derogation of our inherent and constitutionally
protected rights, causing the annihilation of important normative governance values crucial to the
preservation of the actual Algonquin, Kichi Sibi Anishnabe culture. According to traditional
Algonquin / Anishnabe culture and governance the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation exercised
certain political roles and responsibilities, as the political center in a territory undivided by
provincial borders, through leadership that was accountable to the people.

Representative and responsible public servant leadership were attributes of the Kichesipirini
traditional governance norms prior to the “sovereignty of the Crown”, as were the concepts that
the natural resources of their territory were for the benefit and sustainability of the people
dependent on the territory.

In Questioning Canada’s Title to Land: The Rules of Law, Aboriginal Peoples and Colonialism,
John Borrows states that “The failure to recognize and affirm the positive and customary
Aboriginal laws of Aboriginal governments, which preserves and embodies more general
principles of their ancient normative orders, has lead to near-anarchy and constant strife within
Aboriginal communities”.

Again, I would like to express my appreciation for the work and commitment invested by so many in the
hopes that an equitable and sustainable solution can be found concerning the outstanding claims of the
Algonquin people.

Migwetch,
Sincerely,
Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation

c.c.; ANRs, Brian Crane, Robin Aitken, Alan Pratt, Al Hyde, Kichesipirini Algonquins,

Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation

By Honouring Our Past We Determine Our Future

kichesippi@hotmail.com