First Nation communities downriver of Tar Sands bring case to Ottawa
Kingston Regional Police took Bob Lovelace away from the courthouse in handcuffs this morning to serve a six month sentence on a contempt of court charge handed down by Justice Douglas Cunningham. Lovelace, age fifty-nine, is an ex-chief and spokesperson for the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN). He is also father to seven children and an instructor at Queen’s University and Sir Sandford Fleming Community College. Justice Cunningham imposed a fine of $25,000 on Lovelace and $10,000 on his community.
In a ten-hour session on Monday, 11 February, the Senate heard 24 witnesses, in a ten-hour session. All but one of the witnesses – Stockwell Day – spoke against the bill. Transcripts of the hearings (unedited), including powerful statements made by Matthew Behrens of the Toronto-based Campaign to Stop Secret Trials, Adil Charkaoui, and Mohamed Harkat.
An aboriginal leader sentenced to time behind bars for defying two court orders and blocking a prospective uranium mining site has agreed to stop participating in protests so she can avoid going to jail.
It was supposed to be “the good war”; a war against terror; a war of liberation. It was intended to fix the eyes of the world on America’s state of the art weaponry, its crack troops and its overwhelming firepower. It was supposed to demonstrate—once and for all– that the world’s only superpower could no longer be beaten or resisted; that Washington could deploy its troops anywhere in the world and crush its adversaries at will.
ARDOCH ALGONQUIN FIRST NATION
For immediate release – February 14, 2008
Two leaders of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation will appear in a Kingston court tomorrow morning to learn whether they will be jailed for refusing to comply with an injunction which prohibits them from blocking a uranium mining company which has plans to explore land which is claimed by the Algonquins as theirs.
The blockade began in June, 2007 when the Algonquins discovered that Frontenac Ventures Corporation had begun removing trees and blasting rock in preparation for an aggressive program of exploration for uranium near Sharbot Lake, located in eastern Ontario’s Ottawa valley. The company has hopes of seeing an open pit uranium mine on the site. The First Nation had not been consulted, or even notified, before Frontenac began the destruction of their territory, with the approval of the Ontario government.
Chief Paula Sherman and former Chief Robert Lovelace were held in contempt of court this week for their refusal to obey the injunction against their community’s protest. Lawyers for Frontenac Ventures have asked Justice Cunningham of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to impose lengthy jail terms and stiff fines. In addition they asked the court to prohibit the Algonquins from pursuing legal action challenging the constitutional validity of Ontario’s Mining Act which does not require consultation with First Nations before mineral exploration proceeds.
Chief Sherman, said “It’s sad that it has come to this. The government of Ontario has refused to consult with our community about uranium exploration on our land, despite several Supreme Court decisions which clearly say that governments must consult us before approving industrial activities on our land. The failure of the province to respect Aboriginal rights protected under the Constitution has led to this mess.”
Robert Lovelace added: “None of us wants to go to jail or pay punitive fines, and I will miss my children terribly if I am incarcerated, but we are bound by Algonquin law which prohibits uranium mining and exploration in our territory. I cannot obey the injunction.”
Last month leaders of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation in northern Ontario were found in contempt of court in a similar case involving mineral exploration on land claimed by First Nations. They will be sentenced in April.
For more information please contact:
Robert Lovelace: (613) 532-2166
Chris Reid (lawyer) (416) 666-2914
Joan Kuyek, National co-ordinator, MiningWatch Canada, 613-569-3439
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