There are two important upcoming events in Toronto this week:
In a travesty of justice and a grave assault on Aboriginal rights, seven
Aboriginal leaders are in jail today for upholding indigenous and Canadian
law. In March, Robert Lovelace from Ardoch and Chief Donny Morris of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) community, four councillors and one community member were jailed for six months for contempt of court. In two separate cases, they refused mining exploration on their traditional lands without their permission. Additionally, Robert Lovelace and his community have been hit with huge fines.
These Aboriginal leaders were not only protecting indigenous laws, they
were also protecting the Canadian constitution as interpreted by the
Supreme Court of Canada, which says that governments must consult with Aboriginal Nations before licensing mining exploration on their lands.
The KI Six arguments that the Ontario government has a constitutional
responsibility to consult with them before issuing a mining permit in
their traditional territories were rejected by the court. The judge in the Ardoch case threw out Robert Lovelace’s testimony that he was defending Algonquin Law and responsibilities with respect to human activity in their territory.
“I’m prepared to go to jail for my belief in the land,” said KI Chief Donny Morris. “This is a land issue based on our sovereignty and I’m prepared to give myself up if the court decides I’ve disrespected the November ruling to allow Platinex on our land…”
They should not have to go to jail! Premier Dalton McGuinty should withdraw the licenses issued to these mining companies and free Robert Lovelace and the KI 6. The jailing of these leaders is causing terrible suffering and fear in their communities. KI is a remote northern community that has just lost the majority of its leadership and the Ardoch community is facing fines of $50,000. These leaders are also in jail because their communities are poor and cannot afford fines.
“The message delivered through this court decision is one of domination
and oppression,” said Chief Paula Sherman of the Ardoch decision.
Support the right of a community to say NO to mineral exploration and
mining projects that threaten the health of people and ecosystems. Replace the antiquated ‘free entry’ system of mining and exploration with a process that grants exploration permits only after consultation with affected First Nations communities, and consideration of competing land uses and values.
Join us to show support for the Ardoch and KI communities, to protest these harsh court decisions, and to demand action from Premier Dalton McGuinty.
TURTLE ISLAND TO PALESTINE – FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!!
CAIA FUNDRAISER IN SUPPORT OF THE ARDOCH ALGONQUIN FIRST NATION
JOIN US FOR A NIGHT OF LIVE CULTURAL PERFORMANCES, GREAT FOOD,
DANCING AND FUN!
Place: Cervejaria – 842 College St. (W of Ossington), Toronto
To coincide with Palestine Political Prisoners Day, the Coalition Against
Israeli Apartheid ( CAIA), is organising a fundraiser in support of the struggle of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN )against uranium mining on their land. All proceeds will go to the AAFN On February 15 2008, 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 fines amounting to $25,000 for refusing to comply with an injunction that would prevent him from protesting against uranium mining on land that is part of a 25-year-old Algonquin land claim.. In addition, the community was fined $10,000 and Chief Paula Sherman $15,000. The AAFN and the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation started their blockade of the uranium exploration in the area in June 2007.
The highly politicized nature of these sentences further underscores the
on-going criminalization of indigenous people’s basic rights to self-determination and the free use of their lands and resources. Just as
Israel refuses to fulfill its obligations under international law with respect to the basic rights of the Palestinian people (including the incarceration of over 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners), the Canadian government has decisively rejected its obligations under the ‘UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ and continues to incarcerate indigenous leaders who defend the basic rights of their peoples to self-determination. Such a right includes the right of indigenous peoples to: “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” (Article 3, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).
The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) is a grassroots Palestine-solidarity organization which understands Israeli apartheid as one element of a system of global apartheid and therefore stands in solidarity with all oppressed groups around the world, in particular, the indigenous peoples of North America.
For more information on this fundraiser or to find out more about CAIA
please email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.caiaweb.org