Guillaume Carle & Sonia Carrier
Nouveau conseil pour la communauté Anishinabek de la Petite-Nation
20 juillet 2016
La Petite Nation
Sonia Carrier a été élue chef de la communauté Anishinabek de la Petite-Nation par une vingtaine de membres, lors de leur assemblée générale annuelle.
Les priorités de ce conseil sont de «mettre en place la communauté laissée à elle-même durant plus d'un an et de recruter des membres», remarque Mme Carrier. Le conseil est formé du vice-chef, Éric Fournier, du directeur des traditions ancestrales, Dave Grenier et de la secrétaire-trésorière Claire Brosseau. Un autre poste directeur des traditions ancestrales reste ouvert jusqu'à la prochaine réunion ordinaire, qui aura lieu le 16 octobre.
Les procédures d'assemblée ont été assurées par le Grand Chef National de la Confédération des peuples autochtones du Canada (CPAC), Guillaume Carle ainsi que par le chef provincial, Roger Fleury. Les deux hommes ont souligné l'importance de suivre les procédures pour que les gestes posés par la communauté de la Petite-Nation soient légitimés et officiels. M. Carle a également rappelé qu'une communauté qui se tient et se soutient est plus forte qu'en temps de querelles internes.
Les dernières années houleuses pour le conseil ont amené la chef à proposer un changement de nom pour la communauté. Cependant, les personnes présentes ont voté pour garder l'intitulé communauté Anishinabek de la Petite-Nation, puisqu'il porte leur historique et est reconnu auprès des gouvernements et des médias. En 2014, la communauté avait été mise sous tutelle. En novembre, un nouveau conseil dirigé par le chef Jonathan Charron a été élu, mais sans compléter leur mandat de quatre ans.
D'origine Micmac du bas du fleuve, Mme Carrier et son mari d'origine Algonquine de Maniwaki sont propriétaires du domaine Grand manitou. Celui-ci n'a cependant «rien à voir avec le Projet Manitou sur le Domaine des pères Sainte-Croix», fait savoir la chef. Lors de la présentation du projet, en mai, Mme Carrier s'est opposée au nom, puisqu'il risque de porter confusion. «Nous leur avons envoyé une mise en demeure et proposé qu'ils gardent un nom à consonance avec les pères, pour leur rendre hommage», explique-t-elle, déplorant ne pas avoir eu de réponse de leur part pour l'instant.
Mme Carrier indique que sa priorité pour ce mois-ci est d'assembler le plus grand nombre de gens de la région pour se joindre au grand rassemblement national et consultation publique, à compter du 23 juillet, devant le ministère des Affaires indiennes du Canada. Entre 10 000 et 15 000 personnes sont attendues, dans le but de conclure «rien de moins qu'une entente signée devant les médias» avec le gouvernement du Canada, fait savoir M. Carle. PLUS >>>
‘We’re a government’: His Excellency Grand Chief Carle returns with creation of new community
July 22, 2016
Guillaume Carle, national grand chief of the Confederation of Aboriginal People of Canada, takes his titles seriously. “Grand Chief Carle,” he corrected last week after being greeted as “Mr. Carle.” Before the interview was over, he would be ripping pages out of a confederation binder to explain why he also deserves to be addressed as “His Excellency.”
The title was bestowed “forever” by the confederation to recognize that he acts as a head of state in dealings with “domestic and foreign governments,” according to the text of a 2014 motion Carle removed from his binder. “We’re a government,” he said.
Like many things with Carle and his confederation, there is a gap between perception and reality. To prove his claim that he leads a government, he displays a printout from an Industry Canada website showing the non-profit confederation formally registered as “The Government of the Confederation of Aboriginal People of Canada.” He fails to mention that the use of the term “government” lasted less than three months before it was dropped last year because it was impeding recognition at the provincial level.
Since arriving on the political scene in 2003 as head of the Native Alliance of Quebec, representing off-reserve aboriginals, Carle has shown a knack for stirring up controversy. Elected on the strength of his business background, he was driven out of the alliance in 2005 when an audit raised questions about spending and about his education credentials. That began a decade-long legal battle pitting Carle against his critics. The feud generated a flurry of lawsuits, the last of which were settled out of court in June.
“The animosity, the aggressiveness between the two clans transformed this litigation into an inordinate spiral that is still not finished,” one judge wrote in a 2009 decision. The “enormous” legal bills racked up on both sides “could have been used much more wisely to meet the crying needs of the community.”
Carle, 56, is unapologetic. Though the terms of the recent legal settlement are confidential, he boasts that he won. He said he expects to receive a cheque for “compensation” — he cannot say how much — by the end of the month. Lawyers for the opposing parties said they could not discuss the cases.
Carle has returned to the spotlight after the confederation this year helped create a new aboriginal community in Beauharnois, Que., welcoming anyone with a trace of native ancestry. The Mikinaks, who have issued about 400 membership cards declaring their aboriginal hunting and fishing rights, have angered Quebec Mohawks with their demand that they be granted tax-free status like the people of Kahnawake. The federal government does not fund the confederation, and it says the cards that the confederation issues to the Mikinaks do not confer rights and benefits enjoyed by registered Indians.
Last week, the Mohawk council of Kahnawake wrote to the federal government asking it to intervene. “We implore Canada to take swift and meaningful action to put a stop to these fraudulent groups before the situation grows any more contentious,” Grand Chief Joe Norton said.
In the face of resistance from Ottawa and fellow aboriginals, Carle is planning to step up pressure with a demonstration beginning this weekend outside the Gatineau, Que., headquarters of the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. He said the confederation has 50,000 members, and “thousands” of people will be coming in from across the country. The event, which will include a week-long encampment of teepees, is billed as a “public consultation” to examine the rights of off-reserve natives following an important Supreme Court decision last April, known as the Daniels decision.
That ruling recognized Métis and non-status Indians as “Indians” within the meaning of the Constitution.
While the court did not order Ottawa to expand the delivery of programs and services available to status Indians, some have greeted the ruling as an incentive to seek out aboriginal ancestry. “I think people saw Daniels as a recruiting tool,” said Adam Gaudry, an assistant professor in the faculty of native studies at the University of Alberta.
The confederation, which arranges DNA tests or genealogical searches for potential members, promotes the idea that having a single aboriginal ancestor — Carle calls it “the Indian gene” — makes one an aboriginal. “There’s this notion that this little piece of blood can remake the whole person,” Gaudry said. “There’s no kind of collective community. The Mikinak aren’t drawing from a community that has been there for 200 years. They’re just trying to find people who can demonstrate this ancestry.”
Carle, who today calls himself “a Warrior from Akwesasne,” a Mohawk reserve that straddles the Quebec, Ontario and New York borders, has seen his own ancestry called into question. He said he has Algonquin roots on his father’s side and Mohawk ties on his mother’s side. In one court case, the Native Alliance of Quebec hired a historian to research Carle’s genealogy; his 2007 report concluded that Carle came exclusively from European stock, a court ruling noted. Carle sued the historian for defamation, and the case was recently settled out of court. Alexandre Alemann, a genealogical expert who knew Carle’s father, said Carle’s connection to the Algonquin community is clear, even if the historian did not find an ancestor.
“Native identity is not based on ancestors,” Alemann said. “It is based on objective contemporary ties. Even if a person had an aboriginal ancestor 400 years ago, that has less effect than if this person is married to a woman who is the daughter of an aboriginal.”
The court-ordered audit of the Native Alliance of Quebec’s operations during Carle’s time as president raised questions about his academic credentials. He had claimed that he held three degrees, including a PhD, from Ashford University. Auditors with Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Consulting Inc. found that in a 2004 funding request to the National Capital Commission, Carle used the designation PhD after his name. A year earlier, in October 2003, a law firm acting on behalf of Carle had acknowledged concerns that the university in question might be issuing “fake degrees” and said the degrees would be removed from his curriculum vitae if the concerns proved true. In November 2003, auditors found, Carle wrote to an Academic Resource Referral Centre, seeking to receive a Masters degree and a doctorate, based on his work in the private sector and as head of the Native Alliance. “We wonder why Mr. Carle would have felt it necessary to request degrees that he already possessed,” the auditors wrote.
In the interview, Carle said his degrees came from an online university based in England that no longer operates. “I still did what I did, and I have a PhD from them,” he said. “I was an excellent student. I’m a real whiz in computers.”
The auditors’ report described Carle’s evasiveness when confronted with questions about spending and bookkeeping at the Native Alliance. The auditors wrote that they were “not in position to definitively conclude that fraudulent acts were committed,” but they listed a number of concerns. Spending control was “rudimentary,” documents produced by Carle and his assistant “did not reflect the reality of the facts,” and the board of directors was not properly informed of contracts awarded to a company in which Carle had a financial interest.
Today, Carle is content to note that the audit found no evidence of fraud. “I wasn’t there long enough to defraud anybody,” he said. “The system was there for 20 years. I wasn’t the one who invented it.”
His followers in the confederation address him with reverence. The same 2014 meeting that awarded him the title “His Excellency” approved a motion instructing members to rise to their feet when Carle enters or leaves a room. But over the years he has alienated many. His decision in 2006 to call his new organization the Confederation of Aboriginal People, or CAP, created immediate confusion with an existing CAP, the Congress of Aboriginal People, run by his rival, Patrick Brazeau. Brazeau at the time called Carle a “wannabe” who could not prove his native heritage, and the Assembly of First Nations called him “a loose cannon.” Carle countered that his group was the true representative of off-reserve natives and said he would ask the federal government to transfer the Congress’s $5-million budget to the confederation.
That never happened. The confederation now operates on an annual budget of $150,000 that comes from membership fees and donations, Carle said. He said he would not accept federal funding if it were offered, because he does not want to compromise the larger battle to take back Crown land. “If they said they were going to give us $50 million a year, I would not touch one penny,” he said.
New members pay $80 to receive their cards. Lise Brisebois, chief of the Mikinaks, said people seeking to prove their native ancestry to join her community pay $350 for a genealogical study done by “one of my friends who works in that. She has three computers and all the software.” Carle said DNA tests are done by the Toronto company Accu-Metrics and cost $250. He said the confederation makes no money on the testing.
Alemann, the genealogist who knew Carle’s father, said he took part in the recent discussions to resolve the lawsuits involving Carle and his opponents. “Both sides realized there was nothing to be gained for off-reserve aboriginals, and that their disagreement was based more on inflated egos than on questions of principle,” he said. But egos are not so easily deflated, and Carle seems intent on engaging in another personal battle, this time against Norton, the Kahnawake grand chief.
When Norton called the Mikinaks a fraud and mocked Carle for calling himself “His Excellency,” Carle responded by attacking Norton. “It is not because you live on a reserve that you will control the world,” Carle said. “He is not a chief. He is not a grand chief. He is a government employee. He gets a lot of money per year. He doesn’t pay taxes.” He turned the smear once used against him on his rival: Norton, he said, is not the Mohawk he claims to be. “Strangely enough, before the Indians got here, Norton was not an Indian name,” Carle said, later claiming to have proof that Norton’s roots are English.
His Excellency claims to be empowered by his members to deal with foreign governments, but diplomacy has never been his strong suit.