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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

Name of conflict:Algonquins of Barriere Lake Logging Conflict, Quebec, Canada
State or province:Quebec
Location of conflict:Barriere 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 commodities:Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Even 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:1,000,000
Level of Investment:100,000,000 (annual revenues from from resource extraction, hydroelectricity and tourism operations in the territory)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:700
Start of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Resolute Forest Products from Canada
Eacom from Canada
Louisiana Pacific (LP) from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Government of Quebec
Government of Canada
Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Association 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

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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

Impacts of the project

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-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Barriere 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Section 74 of the Indian Act

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Barriere Lake Solidarity Resources (Links to all relevant sources)

Government of Canada, Aboriginal affairs description of the conflict

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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

Other documents


Meta information

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