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What the Algonquins of Barriere Lake’s Struggle Teaches Us About Canadian Colonialism

There are probably no tougher people within Canadian borders than the Mitchikanabikok Inik, the People of the Stone Weir, or, as they are usually called in English, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake. Mostly isolated within what Québec has called the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, the band has held on to its culture and its forms of governance, and preserved knowledge of the land that has taken thousands of years to gather and understand. Shiri Pasternak’s new book, Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State, is a history of the Mitchikanabikok Inik and their resilience and creativity in the face of unrelenting colonial pressure and encroachment, woven through with threads of personal history. This thread of discovery is transmitted through a deep and respectful account of the specific knowledge that the people of Barriere Lake have shared with Pasternak about their world and their history.

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