| Jul 05, 2007


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Feature Article - July 5, 2007

Six days at the Robertsville mine: anti-uranium action could last indefinitely

By Jeff Green

On Thursday morning, June 28, members of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation and the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation entered the grounds of the Robertsville mine site, which is located about 10 kilometres north of Sharbot Lake on Hwy. 509.

The site includes an ore processing building and some other steel buildings, which were cordoned off by the First Nations, who have established a camp of sorts in a flat parking area behind the front gate.

Throughout the long weekend, tents and a perpetual fire were set up between the mine gate and Hwy. 509, and one or two people were stationed on Road 509 to slow cars down and provide information about the impact of uranium mining to passing motorists.

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OPP cruisers were parked at every major intersection along Hwy. 509 between Hwy. 7 and Snow Road, and their presence was welcomed by the leadership of the First Nations, since the OPP seems to be focussed on maintaining safety at the site and surrounding area for the Algonquins and passing motorists.

The Algonquins are occupying the Robertsville site in order to prevent the Frontenac Ventures Corporation from carrying on operations that have been underway for a year.

Frontenac Ventures has been renting a building on the site as their base of operations and have been improving and using an access road that runs west from the mine site to explore a uranium deposit on 30,000 acres of land that they have staked in the region. The majority of staked land is Crown land, and the rest is private land.

The land is part of the territory traditionally claimed by the Sharbot Lake and Ardoch Algonquins, and is part of a huge piece of land that is covered by Royal Proclamation from 1763 which reserves the Ottawa Valley for Algonquin use, a royal proclamation that has never been rescinded. A land claims process over the land has been underway between two levels of government and Algonquin representatives since 1992.

From Friday until Monday the information picket remained in place, and the area behind the gate gradually developed into a more organized camp, with several tents and trailers in place, a parking area, and two cooking and food storage canopies.

As the long weekend waned, the Ardoch and Sharbot Lake elders began to plan for a change. An expectation that Frontenac Ventures Corporation may show up on Tuesday morning, with some road building or drilling equipment, led to a change in the structure of the camp.

The information picket was removed late Monday afternoon. Throughout Monday night, several trucks arrived carrying people from other aboriginal nations. Early on Tuesday morning, as a contingent of local non-aboriginal anti-uranium activists looked on, a line of elders and warriors from Ardoch and Sharbot Lake was set up at the very edge of Hwy. 509 in front of the mine site. And high up on the tower of the processing plant at the Robertsville mine, an Algonquin flag was swaying in the midsummer breeze.

At the mine gate, a drum was set up and periodic drumming started up.

“We are hoping that local people will keep coming out to support what is happening here, as they have been all weekend,” said Ardoch co-chief Randy Cota. “There will be no more uranium exploration here, that’s certain.”

A changing of the guard took place at around 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning, when Ardoch and Sharbot Lake elders, mostly men in their fifties wearing t-shirts and ball caps, left the road and went back into the mine site. They were replaced by a few younger men wearing camouflage fatigues and kerchiefs or black masks.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, two officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources arrived, and were led into the mine site for a meeting.

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