Jeff Green | Feb 21, 2008
Feature Article - February 21, 2008
Back toHomeLetters - February 21, 2008 LettersFebruary 21
Statement from Shabot Obaadjiwan
Statement from Ardoch Algonquin
Ackerman Responds, Jerry Ackerman
Rule of Law,Hedy Muysson
Anti Mining Coverage,Kimberly E. Bate
Political Prisoner, Sulyn Cedar
Contempt, Count Me In!, Bob Miller
Does the Mining Industry Control the Government?, Daniel WhiteStatement from Shabot Obaadjiwan
On February 12, 2008 the leadership of the Shabot Obaajiwan Algonquin First Nation appeared in a Kingston court to stand trial for their role in the ongoing struggle to stop a proposed 30,000-acre uranium mine on unceded Algonquin land just north of Sharbot Lake, Ontario.
In keeping with the spirit of goodwill and peace in which the Shabot Obaajiwan having been conducting themselves throughout this conflict, Chief Doreen Davis and War Chief Earl Badour Sr. have agreed to continue to abide by the terms of a court ordered injunction issued on September 27, 2007 with which they have complied since the blockade was dismantled on October 11, 2007. The Shabot leadership will ask their community to comply with this order and the “undertakings” negotiated by crown attorneys and Shabot defence lawyers until the case is reconvened for sentencing on March 17, 2008.
This trial is further illustration of the lack respect and indifference with which the Ontario government has consistently chosen to treat the concerns of First Nations people. Ontario has failed to abide by their own legally binding duty to consult Algonquin First Nations before initiating mining exploration on their lands. Instead the government has chosen to hide behind the courts. By attempting to bury this significant political and environmental issue in the mire of the legal system, they have clearly proven that their loyalties lie with industry rather than with people. Ontario has once again elected to promote the profit-seeking ventures of industry over Aboriginal rights and values. In spite of such bad faith on the part of Ontario, Shabot Obaajiwan leaders have consistently demonstrated their willingness to negotiate this issue through consultations with the government.
The Shabot Obaajiwan leadership remains committed to the opposition of the uranium mine, the disastrous effects of which would be felt for many hundreds of kilometres along the watershed and for many hundreds of years. They appeal to members of the Shabot Obaajiwan community as well as other communities of First Nations and settlers involved in the anti-uranium struggle to continue to conduct themselves in the spirit of peace.
We Live to Fight Another Day!
Shabot Obaadjiwan First NationStatement from Ardoch Algonquins
In a travesty of justice, AAFN Spokesperson Robert Lovelace was sentenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Kingston to 6 months incarceration and crippling fines amounting to $50,000 for upholding Algonquin law within our homeland. An additional sanction of $2,000 per day will be imposed for every day that Bob continues to obey our law rather than the court order. In addition, our community was fined $10,000 and Chief Paula Sherman $15,000, and our statement of defense was struck out, which means that we are forbidden from challenging the constitutional validity of Ontario’s Mining Act. The court made it clear that First Nations’ laws do not exist in Canada’s legal system and anyone who tries to follow First Nations law will be severely punished.
Shouts of “shame!” erupted in the courtroom as the sentences were read by the judge and Robert was taken into custody. Many were aghast at the harshness of the sentencing imposed for participation in a peaceful protest against uranium exploration which was approved by the Province of Ontario without any consultation with our community.
Chief Paula Sherman said: “No consideration was given to the circumstances that led to our actions. The testimony given under oath by Robert Lovelace outlined Algonquin Law and the corresponding responsibilities of Algonquin people with respect to human activity in our territory. It was tossed aside by the judge and deemed to be of no relevance. The message delivered clearly through this court decision is one of domination and oppression; the law will enforce one set of values with respect to human relationships with the land in Ontario and there is no room for Algonquin laws or values.”
Ontario and Canada portray themselves as shining examples of democracy and human rights for the world to emulate, all the while creating laws, policies, and value systems that oppress and deny Aboriginal peoples’ human right to life as distinct people. Robert testified that Algonquin identity is tied to the relationships that we maintain with the land.
Lovelace is now in jail in Quinte Correctional facility in Napanee. Chief Sherman said: “He is a political prisoner of the Government of Ontario and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation places blame for his incarceration on Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Michael Bryant. We have repeatedly asked for consultations on the mineral claims on our lands within the larger Algonquin homeland. We have offered Ontario a variety of options to enable consultation. Every option was rejected out of hand. Ontario’s position has been consistent: Drilling on our land must occur. Our position has equally been consistent: Meaningful consultation must occur before any of our land is damaged or alienated to mining companies.”
Ardoch Algonquin First NationAckerman Responds
I'm pleased to say something that responds to my deep and continuing concerns for the community and country in which I have lived these many years. I especially welcome John McEwen's attempts to defend the political system that satisfies him. It does not satisfy me. I am willing -- even anxious-- to challenge his assumptions with hard data and hard times I have witnessed or experienced.
Have his "proud Ontario" MPs arranged our economic and financial future to his liking? Is he pleased with being able to fund an otherwise failing business the size of General Motors or Ford? Does he approve of Ontario's financial expert (now finance Minister for the entire country) turning over to the chartered banks the entire surplus of the year, $13,000,000,000 to rescue them from their foolish lending and investing decisions? Did he salute the selection of Lockheed Martin (largest war weapon maker of the world) to supply Stats Canada with the means of carrying out our census? Was General O'Connor -- longtime lobbyist for the military John's choice for Defence Minister? This man spent $20,000,000,000 of my taxes and yours to enrich the weapons industry of Canada and the US, encouraging our youngsters toward endless combative conflict with the rest of the world -- on John McEwen's behalf? As I remember it, none of these actions were mentioned during the election campaign. Did I not hear some one ask?
Instead of funding wasteful and destructive follies, I want our central bank to be creating the funds for everybody's roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and parks. Such a plan worked well from 1939 to 1972. Then the chartered banks rewrote the Bank Act that was designed to regulate their activities. Result? A perfected conflict of interest situation over which an ordinary Canadian anywhere has no say and zero control. And a national debt composed of over 90 % compound interest.
Maybe John will explain for me why 29,000 eligible voters did not vote.
Jerry AckermanRule of Law
Judge Cunningham, in his preamble to the sentencing of Bob Lovelace and Paula Sherman of the Ardoch Algonquin Nation, was concerned about the rule of law.Whose law and for whose benefit?The laws of the original inhabitants of this land, which served them well for many centuries, have been completely ignored once again.
Lovelace and Sherman are trying to protect the integrity of their land from the devastation of uranium mining, which will affect us all far beyond the immediate area and poison the land, air and water forever.
In my eyes, Paula Sherman and Robert Lovelace now join the ranks of Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks in their fight against injustice.Ultimately this travesty of justice and the results ofwillful ignorance of the dangers of uranium mining will rest squarely on the shoulders of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Hedy MuyssonThank you for your fine coverage of the Robertsville anti-mining protests.
I look forward to detailed news of the 13 February court events and an update on Robertsville. Additionally thousands need to know of the well-being, situation and future of Bob Lovelace who was arrested on Friday. He pays the price for all of us, as do his students, children and family.
I am stunned that the eloquent, peace-keeping, law-abiding and gentle Lovelace sits this moment in a jail cell. Ironic since he has done much social service toward improving prison programs. His crime: standing up for his values, his People, and the care of the Earth. Do we imprison people for peaceful expression and taking a stand? Do we also go ahead with plans to ravage thousands of acres, endanger waterways, ignore resident and landowner rights, and violate land claim law, when there’s serious potential for harm to the public?
We must be able to rely upon the good and just laws of free nations. The courts must protect the welfare of People. They must uphold the law. They must be a source of strength and right for us all. Yet we witness a betrayal. “For shame,” the people called out to the court. I must agree.
Many misunderstand this as a local Native land claim. This is a fight for all people everywhere who want an Earth to safely live upon. Algonquin have a special legal place in this protest, yes. But your neighbors, local lands, cottages, lakes, other mining sites, world organizations, and religious groups—are involved.
Why is the court unwilling to hold off on drilling until investigations and talks conclude? In this time of Green, carbon footprint, environmental crisis, shouldn’t the courts be more, not less, cautious? We turn off faucets, replace our light bulbs, and take the commuter train to work. While mining companies press harder for access to areas so vast we can hardly comprehend, without clean up regulations. And the courts say, “Sure.”
I recently learned Minnesota has a huge increase in mining. In a down economy? The reason: the buyer is China.
Is it possible this free pass from the courts is not because we need uranium for X-rays; nor for nuclear energy as we’ve been told, but to feed the ravenous appetite of an up-and-coming industry? We’re selling our land and safety down the river to meet the demands of a booming China? Then as individuals we’ll pay China for our own resources come back to us as Wal-Mart goods. You know Wal-Mart violations of ethical and environmental policies are well documented. Is this free trade? Prosperity? Let’s pay attention folks. I ask you, get up off that couch and do something.
Kimberly E. BatePolitical Prisoner
Ontario's citizens care about healthy communities.Therefore it’s of the utmost importance to protect that which we love, and act now to stop uranium mining in our region. Our Algonquin neighbors have stepped up to the plate and one man in particular is suffering the consequences of taking a strong stand against this environmentally destructive industry.
Bob Lovelace is a political prisoner.I'm angry and sad that the justice system failed on February 15 at the Frontenac County Court in Kingston regarding contempt of court charges for interfering with the business of uranium mining.
If there's to be hope for dealing fairly with First Nations issues we must address racism within our legal system.Bob Lovelace spoke about Canadian history and why he has an obligation to stop uranium mining in Algonquin territory, on unceded Crown land.He presented a very clear case in support of the defendants’ position against Frontenac Ventures Corporation.
Justice Cunningham failed to understand the Ardoch Algonquins’ constitutional rights and Ontario and Canada's duty to consult with them regarding use of Crown land.His decision to incarcerate Bob Lovelace and inflict a heavy fine reflects the colonialist bias of the courts.I'm ashamed of our legal system.
What do we do now?Join us in protest this Saturday, February 23, at 11AM at the Quinte Detention Centre where Bob is a prisoner. Check www.ccamu.ca for actions and events and help us stand strong against uranium mining.
Sulyn CedarContempt Count Me In
Contempt! Count me in! You might add “disgust” as well.
I believe in the “Rule of Law”, but keep in mind that laws have been used to subjugate Native people for centuries. Laws evolve, and that’s why we call it a “Justice System” and not a “Law System”. The Native boarding school fiasco was enforced under the law, and how do we feel about that now?
What is worse, is that this government has put itself above the law in refusing to come to the table in this affair. Hardly a level plating field! The courts have the responsibility to sort this out, and somehow come to a just determination. If Friday’s decision was “just”, shouldn’t the Premier be in jail also? The court could have mandated that ALL parties come to the table. Instead, it chose to use its weight to grind down and punish a few individuals who have taken on the responsibility of representing the will of their people.
Shame! Rightful authority is replaced by “Rule of the big stick”. Well, carve another notch in it. What I learned on Friday is that Native people will find no justice in this court. They need to look elsewhere, perhaps to the international community. They need to find a bigger stick.
Bob MillerDoes the Mining Industry Control the Government?
I am appalled at the government’s decision toincarcerate people who arepeacefully attempting to protect themselves and other residents of this provincefrom an arrogant, aggressiveand financially motivatedmining industry. These peoplehave done nothing wrong. What is wrong, is the current mining act and the lack of the government’s effort to correct it.
Superior Court Justice Douglas Cunningham's decisionpresents itself asagovernmental system having complete power byforcibly suppressing opposition, criticism, and regimenting all industry. The conduciveforce behind his decision being the mining industry andits obvious attempt to acquire additional profits regardless of what harmmay be caused to the residents of Frontenac County and surrounding areas. It would appear that the government has decided to sacrifice its ownprovince andresidents due to the growing world demand for uranium. This is Capitalism at it's worst.
The Whig Standard stated that "Cunningham, in explaining his reasoning for the sentence, said that the adoption of self-help flaunts the rule of law and can't be tolerated because respect for our court system evaporates and our entire society suffers as a result." "Self help flaunts the rule of law?" What a ridiculous statement. If the government chooses not to help its own citizens what other choice exists? Society will suffer to a much greater extent if the mining industry is allowed to be its controlling factor.
I don't see this as an Indian affairs issue, but as a moral human rights issue for all residents of Canada.Frontenac Ventureswasgiventhe right by the government to invade and destroyeveryone's land, the land that we worked for and rely so heavily upon for our very existence. Is this Canada's version of justice? Residents of Ontario, even those who appeared to have a complacentoutlook on life, are now beginning to understand the consequences of not participating in the attempt to change the current mining laws.
I believe that Court Justice Douglas Cunningham's morally incorrect decision sent a message that will promote additional activity in the fight against current mining laws, not prevent it. People with political influence,local municipalitiesand all of their council members who believe thatchanges should be made, need to become more actively involved with this atrocity and not be sitting on a fence waiting to see which side of the fence becomes greener first.
Daniel R. White