The Council (also called the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council) is a political unit representing seven Algonquin communities located in the Ottawa River watershed. Six of the communities are located in the Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions of the province of Quebec: la Première Nation Abitibiwinni (Pikogan, population 800), Eagle Village First Nation–Kipawa (Temiscaming, population 650), Kitcisakik First Nation (Val d'Or, population 386), Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (Maniwaki, population 2500), La Nation Anishnabe de Lac Simon (Lac Simon, population 1200), and Long Point First Nation (Winneway River, population 650). The seventh community is located in the district of Cochrane in the province of Ontario: Wahgoshig First Nation (Matheson, population 250). Of all the communities, Kitigan Zibi is the closest to Ottawa.
In 1989, Algonquin communities in western Quebec, including those just listed, submitted a formal and comprehensive land claim to Canada's Department of Indian and Northern Affairs regarding lands in the Ottawa River watershed. In light of research conducted by these communities, the federal government agreed to pursue land claims negotiations with the Algonquin of western Quebec. In 1992, representatives of Abitibiwinni, Eagle Village, Lac Simon, Long Point, and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg met to form the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council specifically to facilitate the land claims process. Although the initial meeting was hosted by the Kitcisakik First Nation, the Council decided to operate out of Kitigan Zibi since it was only eighty-four miles north of Ottawa.
The areas claimed by the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council cover a large area, although not all nations' claims are equal in size. The smallest is Eagle Village at 21.49 hectares. The largest is Kitigan Zibi at 18,437 hectares.
The Council initially focused strictly on politics. Its office in Kitigan Zibi had only two staff members, who were both involved in the land claims process. In 1996, however, the Council hired an architect, a human resources advisor, and an engineer to offer expanded services to the member communities. In 1999, Kitcisakik First Nation joined the Tribal Council. The following year, Wahgoshig First Nation also became a member, although its participation was limited to political issues. That same year, the Minister for Indian and Northern Affairs proposed that the Algonquin Chiefs conduct a scooping-out exercise, whose purpose was to determine if sufficient common ground existed to begin negotiations with the potential for success within a reasonable time frame.
Kipawa, Kitcisakik, Kitigan Zibi, Pikogan, Lac Simon, and Long Point–Winneway initially agreed to this exercise, beginning the scooping-out exercise in February 2001. Kitigan Zibi later pulled out of this collaboration and conducted its own scooping-out exercise. In October 2002, Kitigan Zibi and Lac Simon requested the beginning of negotiations. As of 2006, the Algonquin nation as a whole had yet to decide if there will be issues of overlapping claims that could affect negotiations.
The Anishinabe Algonquin National Council has two current priorities. The first is the advancement and protection of aboriginal rights. The second is the provision of advisory and technical services to member communities. To accomplish these priorities, the Council has embarked on a training plan to develop the skills of its members, including training courses on basic management skills.
The Council is governed by a board of directors, composed of the chiefs from the member communities as well as representatives for elders, women, and youth. All of these representatives are elected by the people.
In 2004, the Council Office expanded its staff by hiring an information officer and an economic development officer. That same year, perhaps in an effort to launch land claims negotiations, the Long Point First Nation presented a resolution to the Assembly of First Nations, asking support for its natural resources permit system. The resolution also called on the federal and Quebec governments to respect the permit system.
During the 2005 federal election campaign, Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois Party, drew attention to the poor living conditions that existed in Kitcisakik First Nation and called for the federal government to proceed with the construction of a new town. Since the community is not covered under the Indian Act, however, and the negotiation process had yet to begin as of 2006, it is not clear which government is responsible for assisting the community.
The Anishinabe Algonquin National Council maintains an informative Web site, and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs keeps a regularly updated report of land claims issues on its Web site.
Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council. No date. "History of the Algonquin Nation." Available at: http://www.anishinabenation.ca/eng/alg_history_en.htm. Accessed August 30, 2006.; Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council. No date. "The History of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council." Available at: http://www.anishinabenation.ca/eng/history_en.htm. Accessed August 30, 2006.; Anishinabe Algonquin National Council. No date. Available at: http://www.anishinabenation.ca. Accessed January 15, 2007.; Assembly of First Nations. 2004. "Resolution 80: Support for the Long Point First Nation Natural Resources Permit Policy." Moved by Chief Steve Mathias (Long Point First Nation), Seconded by Chief Dwight Sutherland (Taykwa Tagamou/New Post, Ontario). Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly, July 20–22. Charlottetown, PEI. Available at: http://www.afn.ca/article.asp?id=453. Accessed August 30, 2006.; CBC News. 2005. "Duceppe Vows to Help Isolated Algonquin Community." December 11. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/story/canadavotes2006/ national/2005/12/11/duceppe-Kitcisakik051211.html. Accessed August 30 2006.; Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Updated. Report of Land Claims Issues. Available at: http://www.ainc-inac.ca. Accessed January 15, 2007.; Reserve of Eagle Village First Nation–Kipawa. No date. Available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/qc/gui/kipawa_e.html. Accessed January 15, 2007.; Reserve of Kitigan Zibi. No date. Available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/qc/gui/Kitigan_e.html. Accessed January 15, 2007.; Reserve of Lac Simon. No date. Available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/qc/gui/Lac_Simon_e.html. Accessed January 15, 2007.; Reserve of Pikogan (La Première Nation Abitibiwinni). No date. Available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/qc/gui/abitibiwinni_e.html. Accessed August 30, 2006.; Settlement of Kitcisakik First Nation. No date. Available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/qc/gui/Kitcisakik_e.html. Accessed January 15, 2007.; Settlement of Winneway (Long Point First Nation). No date. Available at: http://www.aincinac.gc.ca/qc/gui/Long_Point_e.html. Accessed January 15, 2007.