Municipalities need not worry about the AIP

EGANVILLE – Concerns in regards to the Algonquin Land Claim at the municipal level will be heard, Principal Negotiator Robert Potts assured attendees at a recent information session in Eganville.

On May 22, Potts made a stop in Eganville at the Eagles’ Nest Hall to spearhead an information session on behalf of the Algonquins of Ontario. The session is one of three forums to be held over the next couple weeks.

Since the publishing of the Preliminary Draft Agreement-in-Principal (AIP), on December 12, 2012, for many municipalities, there have been a lot of questions and concerns – this is precisely why the information sessions have been initiated, Potts explained.

From a minor history lesson on the Algonquin peoples, to highlights of the preliminary draft and the treaty process, as well as the negotiation process, Potts’ presentation aimed to inform and touched on an array of issues, which may have been causing some concerns for individuals.

To begin, the principal negotiator started by clarifying, no one is trying to ignore voices at the municipal level. In fact, he went on to say, this is a truly historic thing happening in Canada currently. This is the first time a treaty process has had a preliminary draft made available for the people of the public and those affected – and individuals are encouraged to provide commentary, he said.

“And a lot of people have said, ‘while this should have been done four or five years ago,’” Potts continued.

But the thing is, the negotiator stresses, this AIP is more so a framework for the years to come.

“And we’re looking for feedback, constructive, positive feedback or criticism, even,” he added. “So, we can go back to the table afterwards and try and accommodate some of these concerns that people have…”

However, it requires constructive thought, Potts clarified.

“We’re trying to reach out to folks and find solutions.”

Currently, the Algonquin Land Claim is in its Preliminary Draft AIP, this means, Potts explained, it is still subject for further discussion. Even at the AIP stage, matters are still up for discussion, Potts said.

For clarification, in a few months, negotiators hope to put the AIP in a form, which they agree upon. At that point, the AIP will be published and will then be up for review by the Algonquin voters, whom about 8,700 were recently enrolled.

Story continues in the May 29, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.