Shabot Obajiwaan Press Release
Canada named in uranium lawsuit
First Nation claims federal government ignored Constitution
Sharbot Lake, Ontario: The Shabot Obaajiwan of the Algonquin Nation is adding the government of Canada to its lawsuit against the Ontario government and a company exploring for uranium on Algonquin lands. The lawsuit is based on the right of First Nations to be consulted before development takes place in their traditional territory.
“We weren’t consulted about this uranium proposal and we’re still waiting,” said Earl Badour, Condoned War Chief and spokesperson for the Shabot Obaajiwan.
Last year, Frontenac Ventures Corporation staked claims for uranium on 30,000 acres of Algonquin land west of Ottawa known as the Frontenac Tract. Neither the company nor the governments consulted with the Algonquins, despite the fact that the staked land is part of a Comprehensive Land Claim that is under ongoing negotiation with Ontario and Canada.
“The governments have chosen to disregard their legally binding duty of meaningful consultation,” said Shabot Obaajiwan Chief Doreen Davis in making the announcement. “Our legal position is based on Section 35 of the Canadian constitution and Supreme Court of Canada rulings since 1990. Those rulings impose the ‘duty to consult’ on governments before they authorize actions that might infringe on Aboriginal constitutional rights.”
The Shabot Obaajiwan have been fighting the uranium development since June 2007, along with their sister nation the Ardoch Algonquins and non-native area residents. Their peaceful protest has led to contempt of court charges and severe penalties, with more trials pending.
“The government accuses First Nations of breaking Canadian laws when they defend their lands, but Canada itself is selective about which of its own laws it will abide by,” said Badour. “If the law doesn’t serve their purposes they conveniently ignore it.”
The Shabot Obaajiwan’s lawsuit comes in the wake of other important legal rulings for First Nations across Canada. The Ka’agee Tu First Nation of the North West Territories recently had their right to consultation and accommodation acknowledged in regard to the drilling of oil wells on their traditional hunting grounds by Paramount Resources. The Manitoba government suspended a drilling permit for Victory Nickel Inc. after admitting it had failed to notify or consult with the Norway House Cree Nation about the drilling permit.
“The fact that First Nations people constantly have to fight to have their basic rights acknowledged shows how flawed the Canadian justice system is,” said Badour. “We have to exhaust every avenue in the law here in Canada. Then, if we haven’t been dealt with fairly, the only avenue left is the international courts.”
For more information: Chief Doreen Davis, (613) 279 -1970