Jeff Green | Jun 26, 2008
Feature Article - June 26, 2008
Back toHomeFeature Article - June 26, 2008 "Frontenac Venures won't drill before July 21" says DavisBy Jeff Green
Shabot Obaadjiwan Chief Doreen Davis told the News on Monday that after intensive negotiations with the Ontario Ministries of Mines and Aboriginal Affairs and Frontenac Ventures Corporation, a pilot consultation framework is slated to be announced by the end of this week.
According to Davis, the two month consultation process will involve public meetings and information sessions with the membership of the Shabot Obaadjiwan. It could include two observers from the so-called settlers community, non-aboriginals who joined with the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and the Shabot Obaadjiwan in protesting a uranium exploration project in North Frontenac.
This latest consultation framework does not include the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation.
According to Davis, Frontenac Ventures Corporation has agreed to refrain from test drilling on their 30,000 acre mining claim until July 21 to allow for consultation to take place with the Shabot Obaadjiwan membership.
The Shabot Obaadjiwan have suspended court proceedings, which were scheduled for later this week, in which they were planning to seek a stay of a judicial order allowing Frontenac Ventures to carry on their drilling program.
“It is still delicate, but we are working out the details”, Davis said of the ongoing negotiations.
If and when the deal is finalised it will involve public meetings with the membership of the Shabot Obaadjiwan “to get at the information about the impacts of drilling and the impacts of exploration,” said Davis, “which we really don’t know very much about. After that, we'll see what happens. There will never be a mine there, that I can say for sure, and if we don’t have what we need by July 21, we will go back to court.”
The consultation process will include the “Algonquins of Ontario” (AOO) a body which includes nine off-reserve communities, of which the Shabot Obaadjiwan is one, and the Council of the Pikwakanagan Reserve at Golden Lake. The AOO has been negotiating a land claim in the Ottawa Valley with the federal and provincial governments and hopes to have an agreement in principle in place within two years.
The Snimikobi First Nation, under Chief Randy Malcolm, will also be included in the consultations, according to Davis.
Several years ago, a very public split took place between Randy Malcolm and his supporters and the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation under honourary chief Harold Perry, a lifelong resident of Ardoch.
The Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) and the Snimikobi have not been involved in the year-long protest over the Frontenac Ventures mining claim and exploration project, although the AOO has joined with 20 municipal councils in calling for a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Eastern Ontario.
The tentative agreement is coming about almost one year to the day, June 28, after the Ardoch Algonquins, joined by the Shabot Obaadjiwan, initially occupied Frontenac Ventures' headquarters at the Robertsville mine on Highway 509 just north of Ardoch Road. The protest eventually led to the incarceration of Ardoch Algonquin former Chief Robert Lovelace for 100 days for contempt of court, as well as fines totalling $65,000 to the community and its leadership. The sentence and the fines were eventually stayed by an appeal court in late May.
The fact that the consultation agreement negotiated by the Shabot Obaadjiwan does not include the Ardoch Algonquins is a “reflection of the different paths that Shabot and Ardoch are on,” said Davis. “A wheel is made up of many spokes and the Shabot Obaadjiwan have always taken a path of politics and negotiation.”
The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation walked away from the land claims process several years ago.
In a press release from late last week, Ardoch Algonquin Co-chief Paula Sherman wrote that only direct two-party negotiations between Ardoch and the government are appropriate to resolve the dispute.
“Direct negotiations between Aboriginal peoples and a resource extraction company is a violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763,” Sherman wrote.
Sherman also wrote that mediated talks that took place last winter failed because the government would not consider the possibility of prohibiting Frontenac Ventures from drilling as the result of the talks.
Ardoch retains the position that drilling cannot be permitted even after consultation. “We have conducted extensive research on the potential impacts and feel that they are sufficient to justify our position,” the release said. “Those impacts include contamination of ground and surface water, and the release of radon gas from drilling. Humans, animals, amphibians, plant life and other parts of the Natural World that depend upon that ecosystem for survival will be at a much higher risk of radiation poisoning, ill health and mortality as a result.”
In related news, the report was released this week from the Citizens’ Inquiry into the Uranium Cycle. Written by former Toronto Mayor John Sewell, it has been posted at www.ccamu.ca (more on the report next week)
Finally, Kyle Cachagee, an enforcement supervisor with the Bancroft MNR office, confirmed two weeks ago that “The Ministry of Natural Resources has recently laid charges for work conducted on Crown Land in Palmerston Township [North Frontenac] in the vicinity of the area known as Robertsville. Frontenac Ventures Corporation and Gemmill Sand and Gravel Limited will appear in Provincial Court in Kingston on August 7, 2008 to answer these charges.”
George White told the News that Frontenac Ventures will be able to answer the charges, and pointed out that they were not accompanied by a stop work order. “They would love to have a stop work order issued because we broke the law but that has never been the case and never will be the case,” he said.