Ottawa

Several arrested after Algonquins occupy MP's office in western Quebec

Police arrested half a dozen Algonquin people and their supporters Thursday night after protesters from the community of Barriere Lake in western Quebec occupied Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon's office in Buckingham.

Group protests federal government's recognition of new chief

Police arrested half a dozen Algonquin people and their supporters Thursday night after protesters from the community of Barriere Lake in western Quebec occupied Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon's office in Buckingham.

The group was protesting what it says are the federal government's broken promises.

The protesters allege Cannon promised to intervene to help end a dispute over the leadership of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake. They were calling on him to ask the government for a band leadership re-selection.

The Barriere Lake reserve is in La Vérendrye park, about 300 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, in the Pontiac region represented by Cannon.

Late Thursday, Chief Benjamin Nottaway and supporters gathered at the Gatineau police station where their friends were released.

"We're going to keep doing what we're doing," Nottaway said. "We're going to keep laying pressure on Cannon."

Nottaway is one of two men calling themselves chief of the Algonquins of Barrier Lake. The other is Casey Ratt.

The two rival chiefs and councils were selected by two rival groups of elders — the method used by the Algonquins instead of general elections.

The last chief accepted by the entire band stepped down two years ago.

Subsequently, Chief Jean-Louis Matchewan was selected by a majority faction of elders and accepted by Indian Affairs. Ratt, who presented himself as a leader of the new generation, was left out.

Matchewan was later charged with drug and weapons offences.

In March, Indian Affairs recognized Ratt as the new chief. But many band members didn't like Ratt. They said he was selected by a minority of the community, and wanted Nottaway to take over. Other Algonquin communities also recognize Nottaway. 

In June, Ratt's house mysteriously burned down.

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