Ontario Jails Aboriginal Leaders for Peacefully Opposing Mining on Native Land

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Support wrongly imprisoned aboriginal leaders. Oppose industrial mining in Ontario.

Update, March 20:
Kitchenuhmaykoosib People Continue the Fight for Their Land  

The following are excerpts from an email from Paul York of University of Toronto Students Against Climate Change. Paul would like to hear from people in the Toronto area who are interested in forming an anti-mining/pro-native rights/pro-environment group. Email him at pyork_2002@hotmail.com

I’m attaching three articles about the imprisonment of aboriginal leaders in Ontario.

Yesterday seven aboriginal leaders (Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, near Thunder Bay Ontario) were sentenced to six months in prison for peacefully opposing mining on native land.

They join Bob Lovelace, chief of the Ardoch Algonquin (near Kingston Ontario), jailed for six months for the same thing — an act condemned by Amnesty International. The second article explains how Lovelace was sent to jail to send a message to mining corporations that Ontario’s north is open for business. The same applies to the imprisonment of the Anishinabek First Nation leaders yesterday.

All eight aboriginal leaders are political prisoners of the state. What all this reveals is that the McGuinty government has manipulated the provincial courts by appointing flagrantly racist judges to these cases, has willfully violated human and civil rights, is complicit with mining companies in devestating the natural environment (creating toxic mine tailings which poison both human and non-human populations adjacent to them).

The McGuinty government is also guilty of ignoring the Canadian constitution (sections 25, 35), which requires that First Nations be consulted before embarking on such projects.

The history of 19th century colonialism could not provide a more blatant example of racist abuse of human rights and violation of the environment. The McGuinty government has acted as tyrannical police state through its racist policy of persecuting aboriginal leaders in favour of large mining companies.

Please attend the rally on Wed. March 19th at 12 noon at Queens Park in support of the wrongly imprisoned aboriginal leaders and against industrial mining in Ontario, and for reform of the draconian Ontario Mining Act. That evening there is a showing of “Uranium” (NFB) at McLellan Physical labs, 60 St. George (U of T), Rm. 1180, and a speaker from Sharbot Lake (Marylin Crawford of CCAMU).

Anishinabek supports Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation Chief and councillors

THUNDER BAY (March 17, 2008) — Anishinabek Nation leadership are demonstrating their support for a Treaty 9 community whose chief was prepared to go to jail for refusing to allow a mining company to conduct exploration activity on traditional territory.Deputy Grand Chief Glen Hare represented the 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation at the Ontario Superior Court building today where Judge Patrick Smith sentenced Chief Donny Morris of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and six council members to six months in prison for contempt of court. The councillors of the fly-in First Nation about 600 km north of Thunder Bay defied an Oct. 25 court order granting Platinex Inc. access to Big Trout Lake, which the First Nation claim as ancestral land.”In one breath we hear Ontario talk about the importance of First Nations sharing in the wealth of the province’s resource revenues, and in the next breath they ignore Supreme Court of Canada rulings that say we need to be consulted by companies wanting to exploit our lands,” said Deputy Grand Chief Hare. “Meaningful consultation involves mutual respect, not telling First Nations where you’re going to drill for ore or clear-cut forests. That’s not how good neighbours behave.”Despite several recent Supreme Court rulings requiring consultations with First Nations prior to making decisions affecting their lands, the Ontario government has allowed the Toronto-based junior mining company to stake claims and begin exploratory drilling for platinum. When First Nation members peacefully protested their activities, Platinex retaliated with a $10-billion lawsuit, subsequently reduced to $10 million.Chief Morris says $500,000 in legal fees defending the suit have bankrupted his community, and he and his council accepted Justice Smith’s Oct. 25 ruling that found them in contempt for continuing to deny Platinex workers access to the exploration site.

“The province of Ontario needs to develop policies that support partnerships involving First Nations in harvesting natural resources,” said Deputy Grand Chief Hare. “We won’t tolerate our citizens being punished for defending our traditional territories.”

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

For more information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer Union of Ontario Indians. Phone: (705) 497-9127 (Ext. 2290). Email: becmar@anishinabek.ca

Why Bob Lovelace is in jail; A message is being sent to mining companies: Ontario is open for business

(Kingston Whig-Standard)

I know Bob Lovelace as a soft-spoken and self-reliant neighbour, devoted father and dedicated Queen’s University teacher admired by his students and colleagues. He’s the kind of guy who constructs a log house in the woods north of Kingston with his own skill and sweat; builds a box planter at the local swimming spot and keeps it stocked with marigolds and petunias; and provides venison for a potluck supper. He’s as innately confrontational as a panda bear.Yet much of the public knows Bob Lovelace as a nominally militant aboriginal prisoner now serving a six-month jail sentence and facing cumulative personal fines of nearly $400,000 for contempt of court. His transgression? Refusing to obey a judicial order not to continue his peaceful blockade at a proposed uranium mine site on lands Algonquin First Nations have never ceded title to under any prior treaty or land claim settlement.Yet, as even the mine promoter’s lawyer has admitted in court hearings, there is a vanishingly small chance a uranium mine will ever get built at the headwaters of the Mississippi River northwest of Sharbot Lake. Compared to other deposits in Saskatchewan, Australia, South Africa and Asia, the ore is laughably low-grade, and the cost to mine fatally high.

So how did it come to this?

In effect, Bob is in jail because he has quietly, but implacably, declined to concede that a provincial court has the ultimate authority to decide what happens on lands his Algonquin forebears have used without ecological abuse for thousands of years.

A key point is that these are not private lands in dispute. The collision has occurred because. for more than a century. Ontario governments have blithely assumed that all provincial lands are solely entrusted to it, and are thus subject to mining laws that allow any prospector or com-pany, from anywhere, to stake out land and claim any mineral wealth below. Without asking anyone else’s permission.

In this case, the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources handed out the permits to a fledgling outfit called Frontenac Ventures, and the com-pany maintains that it can drill for uranium with the law on its side. Without First Nation approval.

On this, the company, a provincial court and the cabinet of Dalton McGuinty tacitly agree. That’s why my neighbour is in prison as a kind of conscientious objector, his impoverished First Nation is facing additional cumulative fines of nearly $400,000, and Frontenac Ventures has the sanction to drill for uranium deposits that will never prove profitable.

This makes no sense at all — unless the real issue here is far larger and more deceptive than a puny, potentially speculative mine play that may capitalize on gullible or greedy investors fixated on the spiking world price of uranium, and the venerable flim-flam tactic of selling them sizzle instead of steak.

My bet is that the Ontario government knows — just as well as Canada’s major uranium com-panies know — that eastern Ontario is essentially bereft of profitable deposits. Compared to the mammoth, rich, easy-to mine uranium reserves in northern Saskatchewan, which are known as “elephants” in industry parlance, those from Sharbot Lake to Bancroft to Elliot Lake are like scattered mice.

Perversely, because these Ontario deposits would yield far few ounces of uranium per tonne of ore mined, the volume of radioactively contaminated waste rock and other lethal pollutants would be far greater. So the public pollution risk would be high, and the financial reward small to non-existent for a private company.

Urgent Call To Action From Ardoch Algonquin First Nation

Monday March 17, 9 am — 4pm:

Flood Michael Bryant’s office! PHONE — EMAIL — WRITE — FAX Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Ontario

Starting on Tuesday 18 March, the second phase of contempt charges against First Nations leaders and several non-natives involved in the Robertsville protest will be heard in the Kingston Court House.Meanwhile, a Queen’s University Journal article quotes Frontenac Ventures President and CEO as saying as of this date there is no drilling, but it could happen any.Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and their allies ask all those concerned about First Nations rights and uranium mining to FLOOD Michael Bryant’s office this MONDAY, 17 March to demand that the Government of Ontario immediately:

  • Admit that it was in the wrong to issue permits to Frontenac Ventures for uranium exploration on unceded Algonquin territory without first consulting with First Nations.
  • Follow Manitoba’s example: withdraw the exploration permits that were issued without proper consultation. (The Manitoba government recently suspended drilling on the Minago Nickel Project on Norway House Cree Nation land.)
  • Disallow uranium exploration and mining in the Ottawa Valley, in keeping with the Algonquin people’s proclamation of September 28th, 2007.
  • Free political prisoner Bob Lovelace and revoke his and Paula Sherman’s sentences.
  • Stop the drilling at the Robertsville site until there is thorough consultation with First Nations.

Please be polite, and remember to request a response to your correspondence otherwise they may not reply.

Contact Info: Hon. Michael Bryant, 803 St. Clair Ave W., Toronto ON M6C 1B9


Constituency office: 416-656-0943 / Fax: 416-656-0875 / Email: mbryant.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Please CC your emails to: AAFNASupport@sympatico.ca

Background documents on Sharbot Lake struggle:


  • I ran against Michael Bryant in St Paul’s riding. He is a very capable minister with a lot of experience and the ability to make smart compromises.

    I have called his office to make a positive statement. Its important to have faith that our government will make the right decisions and resolve problems peacefully.

    I know that if I was in his shoes I would have very challenging decisions to make. But as a Minister responsible for working with the First Nations people, I would constantly be working hard for the best outcome.

    It is probably better to mine uranium in places that are already being mined, unless the government can make the land and people healthier by getting rid of concentrated uranium ore deposits, its not worth it.

    For the best outcome we need to best uranium mining technology which disturbes the land the least, and also a safe, responsible place to store leftover radioactive tailings. Unfortunately mining companies have not sold themselves to the public in any responsible way.

    Watching the movie Uranium does not convince me that mining companies are living up to their environmental responsibilities.

    As an avid technologist, I wait for a public response from the mining companies or the Ontario government or elected officials, like Michael Bryant to convince me that the mining will be done with state-of-the-art tools that respect the land and its people.

    Further, as an Ontarian living in Toronto, it is my wish for the First Nations of Ontario to have the highest authority over the use of their own land, because they have choosen to settle on that land, and must bare the environmental and health consequences of living there.

  • Please cease the long suffering violation of human and civil rights, and free the political prisoners, and follow Manitoba’s example and withdraw the mining permits that threaten the peace and future of the people of this land.