| Jun 28, 2007

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Feature Article - June 28, 2007

Algonquin solidarity over uranium exploration

by Jeff Green

George White, the President of Frontenac Ventures Corporation, said this week that he is hoping to come to a “memorandum of understanding” with Chief Doreen Davis of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation over uranium exploration in North Frontenac.

However, Doreen Davis seems to be having none of it.

“I said to him [George White] that I’ll give everyone their day, but nobody can convince me to risk the future of the land for any amount of dollars. We will listen, the community will listen, but that does not mean we will agree to uranium exploration on a territory that is sacred, traditional land for us. Not at all.

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“The minute you drill into uranium, you expose it to the air. My mind set is that I can’t comprehend how this can be safe,” Doreen Davis said in an interview with the News on Monday.

The differences between Davis and the leadership of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFNA) over the approach to ongoing land claim negotiations have been well documented in this newspaper, but in this instance, the two groups seem to be on the same page.

In an interview with the News last week, and on CBC Radio this past Monday, George White characterized AAFNA as an “unofficial group” and “a group of radicals”, claiming that the Sharbot Lake group are the official Algonquin representatives in the area around the 30,000 acre mining claim site.

Chief Davis participated in a meeting on Sunday in Maberly with the AAFNA Family Heads Council, and the Sharbot Lake and Ardoch communities will both be involved in an event scheduled for this Friday at the Robertsville mine site on Hwy. 509.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder on this, and our personal issues all have to be put aside and discarded,” Davis said regarding the relationship between Ardoch and Sharbot Lake. “We are a family, and the disagreements we have politically do not change that.”

In an email to AAFNA members sent out on Monday, co-chief Randy Cota wrote, ”In a working relationship we the leadership have entered into an agreement to have Sharbot Lake First Nation to stand beside us to further the cause [of stopping the exploration] … Chief Davis and myself have agreed on this in a public meeting yesterday, 24th June 2007,at our Council meeting.”

Chief Davis had been made aware of the mining claims several months ago and Shabot Obaadjiwan members attended a meeting of North Frontenac residents in early April to hear concerns about the uranium exploration. She brought the matter to the attention of Brian Crane, the Ontario negotiator at the Algonquin Land Claim table, and she says, “I was told that nothing is happening, but it turns out that a lot is happening.”

The fact that the exploration is taking place in proximity to the Mississippi River, which had been identified on the land claim map as a sacred land that should not be considered for economic development, is particularly upsetting to Davis. “The Mississippi River plays a such a central role for us; it is a special river. For that to be overlooked, it’s very troubling for us. We are the stewards of the land. One of my largest roles is to protect the river.”

Frontenac Ventures Corporation has vacated their base at the Robertsville mine, where they have leased office space, in anticipation of protests that are scheduled for this week.

George White told the CBC that he will be attempting to negotiate a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Shabot Obaadjiwan before returning to the Robertsville mine.

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