This morning I was at the Gatineau courthouse to support off-reserve indigenous activist and Green Party member Roger Fleury who is facing criminal charges for defying a Superior Court injunction while he and a small group of protesters occupied an archaeological site destined to become a road project for the City of Gatineau.
This site has been recognized as being of historical importance to Aboriginal peoples. Even the City of Gatineau recognizes its importance and has set aside money to carry out excavations following the movement. The point of disagreement between the protesters and the city revolves around the extent of the excavations and the report on the road project.
Instead of recognizing the site and responding to the legitimate demands of the protesters and proceeding with a full excavation of the site, the city preferred to take legal action against the Aboriginal people and proceed with the project.
The use of injunctions to silence demonstrations is an anti-democratic practice that should be avoided at all costs for Aboriginal people, students and environmentalists alike. Let there be room for negotiation, dialogue and cooperation to ensure that governments respect the voice of citizens.
The Green Party of Quebec calls on the City of Gatineau to withdraw the charges against Mr. Fleury and all the co-accused, as well as to recognize the historic site and conduct a full archaeological dig under the supervision of the aboriginal groups involved.