“Remove the name Pontiac from the MRC Pontiac” is what Roger Fleury demands. Why? Because according to him, the MRC Pontiac dirties the name of this Chief from the First Nations. Interestingly, Roger Fleury is not asking that the name Pontiac be removed from the municipality of Pontiac or the federal and provincial ridings of Pontiac. Roger Fleury claims that the MRC Pontiac does not deserve to be associated with the Chief of the First Nation of the Outaouais (also known as Odawa or Nishnaabe).
Roger Fleury affirms that the MRC Pontiac gives the wood of the region to others, that the MRC did not consult the First Nations off reserve during its strategic planning and that the Warden did not recognize that the MRC is located on a territory not ceded by First Nations. After verifications, it is important to note that the decisions concerning the allocation of wood cuts come from the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks. Also, during the strategic planning of the MRC Pontiac, all groups or entities were invited to give their opinions and note that the Warden of the MRC Pontiac has already underlined that the territory of the MRC Pontiac is in an unceded zone.
The support of the Green Party of Quebec
Only two or three individuals showed up during this demonstration in front of the MRC Pontiac offices last Wednesday (October 21). Among them, the leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrell, came to support Roger Fleury, candidate of this party in the Pontiac during the provincial elections of 2018. For Alex Tyrell, the request to remove the name Pontiac is on the same footing as the issue surrounding sports teams, such as the Washington Redskins in the NFL, the McGill Redmen in college football, the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL, and the Cleveland Indians in Major League Baseball. This is what Alex Tyrell maintains, even though the examples named are nicknames and not historical figures like Pontiac who played an important role in the history of North America.
Jane Toller has also gone to find out more about Roger Fleury’s position. “We always wanted to integrate the First Nations but I was not aware of this demand to remove the reference to Chief Pontiac,” said Jane Toller.
Moreover, Roger Fleury also accuses the MRC Pontiac of having destroyed First Nation camps located in the Unorganized Territory (TNO). During the meeting of the Mayors of the MRC Pontiac, Jane Toller addressed this accusation.
After verification, it is not the MRC Pontiac which executes the eviction of the camps but the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Quebec. Note that Roger Fleury is a well-known activist for promoting the culture of the First Nations and that he presents himself as Chief Pontiac Anishinaabek Fort de Coulonge Kitchesipirini.
Who was Pontiac
Pontiac (or his original name “Obwandiyag”), was a chief of the Odawas, leading a coalition of several First Nations peoples, militant against the British regime. Pontiac is believed to have been born around the 1720s and died on April 20, 1769 in the state of Illinois.
The full interview with Roger Fleury is available here.
The interview with the leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrell is available here.