| Aug 30, 2007

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Feature Article - August 30, 2007 Judge orders Algonquin communities out

“By Algonquin law, we must remain” Paula Sherman, co-chief of the Ardoch Algonquins

by Jeff Green

Late Monday afternoon the other shoe fell.

Judge Gordon Thomson, of the Kingston Superior Court, delivered an interim injunction that allies closely with the position taken by Frontenac Ventures Corporation.

The company has been pressing the court to act in response to an occupation by members of the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obadjiwaan First Nations on property that Frontenac Ventures has leased at the Robertsville mine on Hwy. 509 in North Frontenac.

The occupation began on June 29.

Injunction _served

Until that date the property had been the base of operations for Frontenac Ventures as they carried out exploration of uranium deposits on a 30,000-acre parcel of private and public lands in North and Central Frontenac.

This weeks interim injunction is intended to allow Frontenac Ventures to continue their exploration until a full hearing can be held on a motion for an interlocutory injunction. That hearing is scheduled to start on September 20.

The interim injunction stands in stark contrast to an earlier “terms of adjournment” ruling that Judge Thomson released on August 15. At that time he ordered only that all materials brought into the encampment; including all trailers, tents, and flags, be removed, and that the company stay away from the site as well.

Not only did the Sharbot and Ardoch Algonquns refuse to leave at that time, they went so far as to inform the court that they will no longer participate in the injunction proceedings, instead asking that the province enter into direct negotiations over their demand for a moratorium on uranium exploration in what they assert is Algonquin territory.

When Ardoch Algonquin Lawyer Chris Reid explained this position to Judge Thomson at a hastily convened hearing on Thursday, August 23, the Judge seemed to take this information in stride. In response to the company’s request that he impose a new ruling, all he said was, “I may make a change, and I may not.”

Frustrated at the turn of events, and the fact that the interests of his clients did not seem to be advancing through the judge’s actions, Neil Smitheman told the court, “Frontenac Ventures is being sacrificed on the altar of collective guilt and political expediency.”

Judge Thomson Thomson must have been listening to Smitheman, since the 11-point interim injunction released this week gives the company everything they had been asking for and more. The injunction clearly states that the Algonquins and their supporters must leave, “Any representative of the AAFN, Shabot, or anyone supporting their position or associated with them in any way must leave the subject property.”

It also grants Frontenac Ventures “immediate, unfettered and unobstructed access to the subject property …”, including “all of the exploration property.”

Further points stipulate that the Algonquins or their supporters are not to interfere or impede Frontenac Ventures in any way.

Finally, the injunction deals with the activities of the OPP under the ruling.

It says that “any police service or police officer be and hereby is authorized to arrest and remove,” anyone who is blocking the execution of the order. The concluding phrase grants the police a bit of discretion however, in the following language: “such a police service or peace officer retains his or her discretion to decide whether to arrest or remove any persons pursuant to any court order concerning this file.”

The final sentence of the order says, “any confrontation in any form simply should not happen.”

This latest ruling was welcome news to George White, the President of Frontenac Ventures Corporation

“We are very pleased with what Judge Thomson has done,” he said, and he added that the company is looking forward to recommencing its exploration program.

OPP: coming out of the shadows

The Ontario Provincial Police have maintained a quiet presence in and around the Robertsville encampment since the start of the occupation.and t he day after Judge Thomson released his interim injunction, two OPP officers attended a meeting with the Algonquin leadership and membership, and members of the non-aboriginal community who support the encampment.

After particiapting in a tobacco ceremony, OPP Officer MacPherson accepted the Eagle Feather and said, “We have been here from the start to keep the peace, and that has not changed. A new court ruling has been released, but we have not had time to analyse it yet.. I commit to you that if we are placed in a different position as the result of the court order, we will communicate that change to you.”

He also stated that the OPP is ultimately bound to follow the dictates of the legal system, as understood by their own legal Counsel.

The actions of the OPP over the past two months have been heavily influenced by some high profile events in recent Ontario history, including the Ipperwash tragedy and the Ipperwash report.

Members of the OPP Aboriginal Relations Team (ART) have been “integrated officers”, living with the Algonquin communities on site and providing instant two-way communication with OPP officers on the other side.

Don Lickers, one of the ART members on site, participated in the meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Algonquin and non-aboriginal participants in the meeting all expressed their appreciation for the role the OPP have been playing, but remained nervous about what may happen in the near future.

OPP officials reitereated that they are ultimately subject to the law as expressed by the courts, and in response Co-Chief Paula Sherman of the Ardoch Algonquins talked of the communities’ obligations under Algonquin law.

“As [Algonquin Elder] Bob Lovelace has said, Canadian Law and Algonquin Law are mostly harmonious, but in some cases they come into conflict. I am bound by Algonquin Law to protect the land against this danger … The OPP is not our enemy here, the diamond drill is the enemy,” she said, referring to the core test holes that Frontenac Ventures intends to drill if and when they get back onto the exploration lands.

As of this writing, a Sherrif is expected at any time from the Kingston Court to officially post Judge Thomson’s order on the gate of the Robertsville Mine. The occupants will then have 48 hours to comply. Judge Thomson said he is prepared to deal with the matter again at short norice.

There has been no indication that the leadership of the two Algonquin Communities is wavering. If anything, their resolve seems to be hardening.

(Look to this site for updates)

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