Algonquin nation in Quebec says it’s in crisis and is looking for support from feds

Kikcisakik First Nation in Quebec calls on minister of Indigenous services to intervene.


Catherine Anichinapeo at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday. Photo: Kerry Slack/APTN.

The current director general and five former chiefs from the Algonquin community of Kikcisakik say they want the federal government to intervene in their band’s affairs over concerns about transparency and accountability in how they’re being governed.

Kitcisakik First Nation is located 380 km north of Ottawa in Quebec. The community of 400 people live without hydro, plumbing or electricity. According to the panel who travelled to Ottawa, the community is desperate for help in getting better living conditions.

“Our kids and grandkids did not choose to live like this. No shower, no electricity. There are families who don’t even have generators,” said Adrienne Anichinapeo, director of education, language and culture and former chief.

“This is a crucial moment for our community. The chief is completely ignoring his obligations to us.”

Anichinapeo said she’s spent over a quarter century as general director and has seen many ways of doing things.

“In my 27 years as general director, I have never seen a chief and his council work outside of the rules of the community and cause so much damage to a community, especially to the women, kids and vulnerable people,” she said. “As a woman on council I have been left out, and not privy to documents that potentially help benefit our community.

“Chief and council do everything to slow down progress.”

The former chiefs hope to draw attention to, what they said, was a dire situation.

“We are asking for an urgent intervention from the federal minister of Indigenous Services to put an end to this dictatorship. I’ve been a witness to this for seven years,” said councillor Catherine Anichinapeo. “They [chief and council] are often disrespectful to women. I have been subjected to workplace intimidation and misogyny. Our other complaint today is regarding the toxic influence of a council employee who doesn’t live in the community, who has a strong influence on the chief and council.

“He was hired by the chief without consultation, without a job posting for anyone in the community to apply.”

‘Our request to the minister to help us because our current chief is keeping us in a state of dependence and impoverishment,’ says former chief, James Papatie. Photo: Kerry Slack/APTN.

The plan to modernize the community includes Hydro Quebec running power to the community. No progress has been made since and no movement has been made on that plan the group said Tuesday.

“Our request to the minister to help us because our current chief is keeping us in a state of dependence and impoverishment,” said former chief, James Papatie.

According to the former chiefs present at the news conference the current chief works without consulting his council.

For example, last March they said the chief passed a resolution that would take away the power of the director general to access financial records and human resources files.

“This keep all the power with the chief himself,” said Catherine Anichinapeo. “He is already known to us for abuses of power, and looking out only for himself. I remind you, we have no hydro, in one example when the wood truck came he bumped himself up on the list to receive wood first.

“In our community, we would always serve women with children and our Elders first. We made a complaint, which got ignored, like most of our concerns.”

Although Hydro Quebec has a dam in the area, there is still no hydro for Kitcisakik

In November 2023 APTN reported that Kitcusakik would have hydro lines soon but were given no definitive date.

There are other major reasons for concern according to the group.

Last February, a fire ripped through the band office destroying it. There are no fire services to respond.

Kitcisakik sits just outside of Val d’Or fire services jurisdiction, meaning even if they reached the fire, their insurance would not cover anything that happened while they were there, including if there was an accident or incident.

In previous correspondence with APTN the provincial government said Kitcisakik is under federal jurisdiction while the federal government led APTN back to the provincial government.

In an email to APTN, the band council of Kitcisakik said, “The council wishes to refrain from comment on this issue but we are taking note of the conference this morning.”

APTN asked Indigenous services for a comment but did not get a response by the time this article was published.

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