A new organization for off-reserve Natives calling itself The Confederation of Aboriginal Peoples has been founded, and its leader, Guillaume Carle, is anxious to resume his recently interrupted political career.
“We represent all Aboriginals living off reserve, including Metis, Inuits and Indians,” Carle told the Nation. “The confederation is a term from the Iroquois and since I have Mohawk in me, I guess that’s why it was chosen,” said Carle, who also has Algonquin, Huron and Nippissing blood.
Carle is no stranger to controversy.
After being re-elected in 2005 as Grand Chief of the Native Alliance, Carle was usurped by his opposition.
Carle said that an opposing faction illegally moved the meeting for re-election to another location without telling Carle and his supporters. One of those accused of the move was Carl Dube, President of Waskahegen Corporation and current Grand Chief of the Native Alliance.
“I was re-elected and everything seemed okay,” said Carle, who grew up in Maniwaki. “Until we were served with an injunction a month later, which is still waiting to be heard before the courts.”
Dube could not be reached for comment.
“The bottom line is you can’t force a false Grand Chief on them,” said Carle. “That’s why the people left. That’s why the communities totally disaffiliated themselves from the Native Alliance of Quebec and started the Confederation. Today they’re going 200 miles an hour and the other guys are still dead there.” Twenty-one resolutions of disaffiliation and disassociation from the Native Alliance were filed, along with the same number of resolutions affiliating themselves to the Confederation. Further, each of the 21 communities sent a letter advising the Alliance not to use their names in any way, shape or form.
Carle is currently suing the Grand Chief and his supporters for $835,000 for allegedly slandering his name. But Carle said would not comment on the allegations against him as they are before the court.
“When I was elected as head of the Quebec Native Alliance in 2003, I made three promises,” Carle said. “I said I would bring adapted health programs, adapted education programs and economic development. As soon as I started pushing to get us going certain some people never accepted that the people elected me. I started to see conflicts of interest and I denounced them. When I told the whole story on this they attacked me. They attacked me and put the wallet to it. When I went to be re-elected in 2005, I had 75 per cent of the communities with me, or 21 out of 26 communities that were on my side.”
Despite this, Carle wants to move on and help morph the new Corporation into an “inclusive” political organization.
“Industry Canada recognizes us as a political party or corporation to bring in our own laws, our own systems and judges for our health, education and economic development and our rights to our traditions and our culture,” he said.
He said his new group will base its work on Aboriginal traditions.
“When a community grows, everybody grows. For example, how is one Grand Chief supposed to earn $125,000 a year while his people starve? That goes completely against our traditions and who we are. The Grand Chief is the one who has the visions that are pushed by the people to bring an essential growth to the whole community. If you don’t have a community, you don’t have a Chief or a Grand Chief. So you have to respect those grassroots members.”
The Confederation’s membership stands at 3,000, according to Carle. That is a number he says will grow in the coming months once a planned expansion to the western provinces gets going in earnest. The Yukon, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are already affiliates. Carle is pushing for each province to get on board and said that in a year or less, membership should be hovering around 500,000.
But how do people become a member and what do they get for a $30 membership?
“The only way to get our membership card is to demonstrate genealogical proof and if you don’t do that, you cannot become a member. The genealogical study has to be brought by the members themselves. When the process of validation comes in, the community has to look at it and make sure it looks good,” said Carle, who added that the Confederation has hired a company – at arms length, according to him – who will independently verify the findings. “We can’t give cards to people who are not Aboriginal.”
So far, no one has been refused membership and Carle claims to have a “100 per cent transparent and true” process.
“The only way that we will win our battles is to unite together. That’s what the Confederation of Aboriginal Peoples brings. It brings unity to all Aboriginal people to start living the traditions the way it was before and to fight together. When we’re alone we’re weak, when we’re together, we’re strong.”