PONTIAC – A poster signed by Roger Fleury, calling himself Chief of Pontiac Anishinaabek Fort-Coulonge Kichesipirini, inviting the community to participate in a “cultural hunt”, provoked several reactions, notably from the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council (AANTC). The poster invited the community to hunt from December 3 to 8, even though the dates and rules did not coordinate with the hunting and trapping regulations under the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife. “These are our lands,” Fleury insisted.
“Roger Fleury is not a member of any Aboriginal nation, and the Anishinabeg community he claims to be the leader of does not exist,” said Grand Chief Verna Polson of the AANTC, who noted this is not the first time Fleury has usurped his Aboriginal identity. The AANTC added that Fleury is posing as a First Nations
person when he is not in order to appropriate rights to which he is not entitled.
The Ministère des Forêt de la Faune et des Parcs reminded citizens of the rules of hunting. “If you wish to participate in a hunting activity proposed by a group or organization, make sure you have a licence authorizing you to hunt. In addition, the hunting periods and limits indicated in the regulations governing hunting in Quebec apply at all times,” said the Ministère.
The Grand Chief stressed that although hunting is an intrinsic part of Aboriginal culture with its own rituals and traditions, a “cultural hunt” does not exist among the Anishinabeg. Hunting is first and foremost a subsistence act that allows Anishinabeg to feed their families and to make goods and clothing. “The Anishinabeg do not hunt for the pleasure of killing,” Polson said.
According to Fleury, the cultural hunt took place peacefully. On the other hand, the debate caught the attention of the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ), which is now in the midst of a vote of confidence for their leader Alex Tyrell. As the most recent PVQ candidate in Pontiac, Fleury has always had the support of Tyrell who came out in October to support him in asking the MRC Pontiac to change its name.
However, the PVQ National Executive issued a press release to disassociate itself and denounce Fleury’s cultural and historical appropriation by inviting people to participate in a “cultural hunt” on Anishinabeg territory.
The Executive also denounced Tyrrell’s negligence. “The actions of Mr. Fleury and Mr. Tyrrell were taken without consultation with the National Executive and members of the PVQ,” said National Executive member Vincent J. Carbonneau.
Tyrell defended himself and said he still stands by Fleury’s demands.
“It’s unfortunate that some of my opponents in the Green Party are trying to fuel the conflict between aboriginal peoples by launching attacks without having
adequate information. When parties and organizations exploit the current tensions between indigenous communities, we are only reproducing the dynamics of the English and French and their efforts to exploit the early Iroquois/Mohawk and Huron communities for their own benefit,” he said. The result of the confidence vote for Tyrell will be known in the coming days.
“Mr. Fleury has no Aboriginal rights or title to claim the lands in the Pontiac or elsewhere as his own. These lands are the lands of the Anishinabeg and while they have never been surrendered, sold or abandoned, Mr. Fleury is not part of this Nation,” concluded Polson.