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Algonquins of Barriere Lake Logging Conflict, Quebec, Canada


On December 3, 2013 the Algonquins of Barriere Lake non-violently stopped forestry operations that are devastating their lands in Western Quebec.

After community members of the Barriere Lake First Nation established a land protection camp to protest clear-cut logging on sensitive areas of their land, Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources has agreed to respect a previously negotiated process to harmonize forestry operations with the community’s traditional activities. Called the “measures to harmonize” process it involves field visits by Barriere Lake Algonquins to the proposed cut block areas and identification of buffer zones of various sizes to protect cultural sites and ecological areas.

The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources had—without meaningfully consulting the Algonquins of Barriere Lake—issued permits for the 2013-14 operating year to Resolute Forest Products and other large logging companies who have subsequently clear-cut vast tracts of the forest this past summer and fall, up to the end of November, when the Algonquins stopped the unauthorized logging, which has been taking place in violation of signed Agreements with the First Nation.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake in western Quebec have been at the forefront of First Nation communities’ efforts in Canada to ensure that forest decision-making processes respect and accommodate Aboriginal values, uses and knowledge systems. The Barriere Lake Algonquins, who live in the Ottawa River watershed of western Quebec, have experienced the effects of industrial logging and other resource extraction since the 1870s.

By the late 1980s, the Algonquins’ land-base economy had deteriorated to such an extent that, when the Quebec government started to negotiate the allocation of 25 years forest tenures in their territory, the leadership decided to act decisively to protect the community’s landbase. After years of protests and blockades, and unsuccessful efforts to delay the forest tenure allocation process, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake finally negotiated a tripartite agreement with the governments of Canada and Quebec.

In 1991, Barriere Lake signed a historic Trilateral agreement with Quebec and Canada. Its aim was to establish an unprecedented system of sustainable development and eco-management over 10,000 square kilometres of their unceded traditional territory. The Trilateral agreement if implemented, would see the ABL included in decision making about the land, and gain a financial return from any resource extraction or commerce on their land (logging, hydro-electric, tourism). It would see traditional Algonquin knowledge of the land integrated into how the territory might be used and conserved In 1998, Barriere Lake and Quebec signed a related Agreement to negotiate co-management of the territory and resource revenue sharing among other issues.

The Quebec and Canadian governments have refused to honour the 1991 and 1998 Agreements, allowing Eacom (formally Domtar,) Louisiana Pacific, and Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitbiBowater) to clear-cut huge areas without consultation of the community.

In November 2008, Chief Ben Nottaway was jailed for participating in a peaceful highway blockade urging the government to honour the agreement, while a month earlier riot police used teargas and pepper-spray against members of the blockade, including women, children and elders. [1] The Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) are a First Nation who hunt, fish, trap, and harvest on more than 10,000 square kilometers of territory north of Ottawa in what is now called Quebec. They are one of the few First Nations in Canada who still speak their traditional language and have a traditional government that is tied to their land-based existence (Most First Nations in Canada had their traditional government replaced by the Government of Canada’s “band council” system). The community attributes the strength of their Algonquin language, their culture, and their protection of the land to the endurance of their own governance system, the Mitchikanibikok Anishinabe Onakinakewin.

The ABL is also currently running a campaign against Section 74 of the Indian Act, because they claim the most recent tactic of the Canadian Government to take control has been to impose band council elections on the community. Section 74 of the Indian Act states that the Minister of Indian Affairs can impose an electoral system on First Nations with customary leadership selection processes. This hasn´t been imposed since 1924. The ABL have always had their customary government. (

Basic Data

NameAlgonquins of Barriere Lake Logging Conflict, Quebec, Canada
SiteBarriere Lake
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsEven though the territory encompassed by the agreement is located within the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve, it has been allocated to forest companies under long-term area-based tenures and also supports hydroelectric development and recreational hunting and fishing. There are currently 36 Timber Supply and Forest Management Agreements, or CAAFs (Contrats d’approvisionnement et d’aménagement forestier), within the area
Project Area (in hectares)1,000,000
Level of Investment (in USD)100,000,000 (annual revenues from from resource extraction, hydroelectricity and tourism operations in the territory)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population700
Start Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesResolute Forest Products from Canada
Eacom from Canada
Louisiana Pacific (LP) from United States of America
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Quebec

Government of Canada

Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociation for Progressive Communication

Block the Empire-Montreal

Brampton Coalition for Peace and Justice

Building Bridges Human Rights Project-Vancouver

Comité de Solidarité avec les Indiens des Amériques-Nitassinan

Common Cause-Ottawa

Collectif pour L'Autonomie du Peuple Mapuche

Le Collectif Opposé à la Brutalité Policière (COBP)

Edmonton Small Press Association

Flemish Centre for Indigenous Peoples

Haiti Action Montreal

Indonesia Fisherfolk Union / Serikat Nelayan Indonesia

Industrial Workers of the World–Vancouver

Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation

Latin America Connexions

No One is Illegal Kingston

No One is Illegal Montreal

No One is Illegal Ottawa

No One is Illegal Vancouver

Olympic Resistance Network

OPIRG Carleton

QPIRG Concordia

OPIRG Ottawa

OPIRG Toronto

Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty


Solidarity Across Borders-Montreal

Sierra Youth Coalition

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of alternative proposals
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Land protection camp


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesBarriere Lake's List of Demands

1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.

2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.

3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.

4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.

5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.

6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs' treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.

7. The Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-First Nation relations and improving the policing procedures of the SQ when policing First Nation communities.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.While the Trilateral agreement was lauded at the time as being precedent setting, according to the community the government has not honoured the terms of the agreement.

Sources and Materials


Section 74 of the Indian Act


Peter Douglas Elias, Models of aboriginal communities in Canada’s north, International Journal of Social Economics

[1] Aziz Choudry. What's Left? Canada's 'global justice' movement and colonial amnesia. Race & Class. 2010


Barriere Lake Solidarity Resources (Links to all relevant sources)

Government of Canada, Aboriginal affairs description of the conflict

Media Links

The documentary Honour Your Word is an intimate portrait of life behind the barricades for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake

Other Documents


Meta Information

ContributorLeah Temper, ICTA-UAB, leah.temper(at)
Last update24/06/2014