Current Affairs History

Taking Back “Our Territory”

Following on from yesterday’s piece on Québec and Canada, some potentially important developments for the indigenous peoples of La belle provence, as reported by the National Post:

“A group of Algonquins in West Quebec is preparing to launch what could be the largest land claim in Canada’s history — for a swath of territory covering 650,000 square kilometres across eastern Ontario and West Quebec.

Stretching from Sault Ste. Marie and Cochrane in northern Ontario through much of eastern Ontario, including Ottawa, the territory cuts across West Quebec to Montreal, and all the way to the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and St. Lawrence rivers at Trois-Rivieres. About two-thirds of the land is in Quebec.

Gilbert Whiteduck, chief of the Algonquins of Maniwaki known as the Kitigan Zibi, says the process will begin soon with the presentation of the territorial map to Quebec Premier Jean Charest to underline the claim. Mr. Whiteduck says the map and accompanying documents were presented to the federal aboriginal affairs minister earlier this year, and the group is now seeking a meeting with Mr. Charest to do the same.

Mr. Whiteduck says the plan is not to demand return of the land to the Algonquin. He recognizes that land settlement “is going to be way down the line” but aboriginal communities, which face serious socio-economic problems, have to be able to utilize the resources of their land to improve their lives.

“What we want to say to the Premier is, ‘This is our territory, and since you are Premier of Quebec, we want to be able to sit down with you and discuss the fact that resources are being taken from the land and there should be some kind of sharing arrangement here,’ ” he said.”

Interesting. I wonder what percentage of Irish land remains in the “legal” ownership of former British colonists, settlers and “land grabbers”? What about the detritus of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy? The heyday of the “Big House” has long since passed (would-be squires aside) but a sizeable amount of land in Ireland still remains in the possession of a tiny number of English families. And that land wasn’t exactly donated to them.

I wonder if I, and my relatives, went down to our ancestral lands in Teathbha could we claim them back on behalf of the Ó Sionnaigh and the wider Muintir Thadhgháin? Hmmm. There would be a legal case. Anyone up for getting all aboriginal in Cill Chuairsí?!

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