U of T: Evening with Bob Lovelace – saying NO to uranium mining, August 13th

August 12, 2008

You are invited to attend:

An evening with Bob Lovelace

Wed. Aug. 13, 2008 – 7:00 p.m.
Hart House, Debates Room, 2nd floor
7 Hart House Circle , University of Toronto
(direction by subway: go to St. George station, walk south, left on Harbord)

Meet Bob Lovelace, former Ardoch Algonquin First Nation chief and Queen’s University lecturer, who was sentenced to six months in jail for saying ‘no’ to uranium mining on indigenous lands. Lovelace made this stand in defense of the Earth and Creation, which indigenous peoples regard as sacred.
Popular support for this cause contributed to the decision by 22 Ontario municipalities to vote against uranium mining and a promise by the Ontario government to revise antiquated legislation which currently gives mining companies ‘free entry’ to contested indigenous lands and private property. At stake is indigenous sovereignty, protection of the boreal forests from contamination by toxic mine tailings, and the right of indigenous communities to say no development which affects them.

Mr. Lovelace will share his reflections on the events of the last year, the meaning that the land has for indigenous peoples, and the challenges that attend to the current age of mass industrial development and destruction of the land.

Sponsored and promoted by GSU Social Justice Committee (U of T), Toronto MiningSupport Group/Students Against Climate Change, Sam Gindin Chair ( Ryerson University ), University of Toronto Students Union .


KI and Ardoch Statement

July 9, 2008

For Immediate Release – July 7, 2008

Court of Appeal Calls on Ontario to Negotiate with KI and Ardoch

On February 15, 2008, Robert Lovelace, retired Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, was sentenced to six months in a maximum security prison.  His crime?  He had declared that he could not obey a court order which banned peaceful protest against uranium exploration on his community’s territory in eastern Ontario, because he must obey Algonquin law which forbids uranium mining and exploration.  The government of Ontario had approved the exploration in 2006 without any consultation with the Ardoch Algonquins and without any regard for the sensitive ecology of the area.

On March 17, Chief Donny Morris and five other leaders of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) received a similar six month sentence in a very similar case. In KI’s case Ontario had also approved the staking and exploration of land which KI says is part of its traditional territory, and which should not be subjected to the environmental impacts of mining.  The six KI leaders: Chief Morris, Dpty. Chief Jack McKay, Spokesperson Sam McKay, Councilors Cecilia Begg and Daryl Sainnawap and Bruce Sakakeep – became known as the “KI Six”.  Like the Ardoch Algonquins, they had refused to obey a court order prohibiting them from interfering with mining in their territory.

In both cases, Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Michael Bryant, instructed Ontario’s lawyers to support the mining companies in seeking the harshest possible punishment for our “disobedience” of Ontario’s laws.  The government made it clear at every step of the legal proceedings that their only priority is to support the 19th century Mining Act which states that mining is always the best use of land, and any peaceful protesters who oppose mining should expect jail and crippling fines.

The incarceration of seven respected community leaders for peacefully obeying their own laws and resisting the destruction of their territories led to an outpouring of support for KI and Ardoch and calls from environmental groups, unions, churches and community activists to reform the outdated Mining Act to allow communities to say ‘no’ to mining.  The support culminated in a rally at Queen’s Park on May 26, followed by a four-day “sovereignty sleep-over” at the legislature.

On May 28, an appeal of our sentences was heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal.  The Court ordered the immediate release of Bob Lovelace and the KI Six, but did not release the reasons for their decision until today.

In today’s ruling the Court of Appeal said that the outdated Mining Act “lies at the heart of this case”.
The Court called the Act “a remarkably sweeping law” which allows prospectors to stake claims on any Crown land, and which allows no role for communities in deciding whether mineral exploration occurs in their territories, even when they have unsettled land claims to those areas.

The Court noted that both KI and Ardoch had consistently asked the government of Ontario to engage in direct negotiations with them to resolve these disputes rather than supporting the mining companies’ efforts to obtain injunctions and then have community leaders jailed for refusing to obey the injunctions.  The Court said:

“Where a requested injunction is intended to create ‘a protest-free zone’ for contentious private activity that affects asserted aboriginal or treaty rights, the court must be very careful to ensure that, in the context of the dispute before it, the Crown has fully and faithfully discharged its duty to consult with the affected First Nations.  The court must further be satisfied that every effort has been exhausted to obtain a negotiated or legislated solution to the dispute before it.  Good faith on both sides is required in this process”

Said Bob Lovelace, “We feel fully vindicated in the position we have taken and remain committed to our position that there will be no mineral exploration within the territories of KI or Ardoch without our consent.  Our laws, which require respect for the land, are entitled to at least as much respect as Ontario’s Mining Act.  We remain open to dialogue, but Ontario has never responded to our proposals for negotiations.  We want negotiations, not conflict, but we will enforce our laws and protect our land.”

KI Spokesperson Sam McKay added:  “The decision of the Court of Appeal proves that we went to jail because of the stubborn refusal of the provincial government to respect our laws and our perspective on development within our territories.  The Premier of Ontario owes an apology to the people of KI and Ardoch, especially to those of us who were jailed for opposing an outdated and immoral law.  A sincere apology would begin a process of healing and reconciliation.”

Background Legal Issues

To encourage mining and exploration, Ontario’s Mining Act is based on a “free entry” system, which means that all Crown lands, including those subject to Aboriginal title claims, are open for staking, exploration and mining without any consultation or permitting required.  Anyone with a prospector’s license may stake claims and prospect for minerals on any Crown land. Once a claim has been staked the Mining Recorder “shall” record the claims.  There is no opportunity or requirement for consultations with affected First Nation communities.  Once a claim is recorded, the prospector can conduct exploratory drilling without any more permits being required.

It is also important to realize that in the 2004 Haida case, the Supreme Court made it clear that First Nations which have asserted rights claims or land claims, but have not yet proven their claims, must be consulted and accommodated, but they cannot “veto” development on disputed land.  Consultations and accommodation can include measures to mitigate the impacts of the project and provide some compensation for the affected communities, but they must lead towards implementation of the project.

The only way to achieve what KI and Ardoch believe is a fair and just solution is through negotiations to withdraw sensitive lands from mineral staking and mining.

Contacts:

Sam McKay, Spokesperson, KI (807) 537-2263
Robert Lovelace, Ardoch FN (613) 532-2166
Chris Reid, Legal Counsel for KI and Ardoch: (416) 629-3117


Robert Lovelace reflecting on the apology

June 18, 2008

Reflecting on the apology : Canada AM: Robert Lovelace, Queen’s University

http://watch.ctv.ca/news/latest/reflecting-on-the-apology/#clip59293

Art Auction Reminder / Canadian Mining Journal Poll / Christian Peacemaker Delegation

May 8, 2008

May 10th, 7pm – Art Auction at IntuMotion Dance Studio


WHAT:      KINGSTON AREA ARTISTS ART AND GIFT AUCTION
WHEN:      Saturday May 10th,  Preview 7-8pm, Auction at 8pm
WHERE:    IntuMotion Dance Studio, 275 Queen Street (at Barrie), lower level.
WHY:        Protect Mother Earth and buy your gifts for Mother’s Day. Proceeds to AAFN/Lovelace/Sherman NO URANIUM Legal Defence Fund.

The primary objective is to raise funds for the payment of fines incurred by two native leaders, Bob Lovelace and Paula Sherman, of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, who have been convicted of contempt of court. The occupation of the mining site resulted from the provincial government’s neglecting to consult with the local native band–as demanded by law–before issuing mining rights to Frontenac Ventures. The second, longer-term, objective of the event is to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of uranium mining and the unconstitutionality of Ontario’s Mining Act.

Refreshments will be available.  Pay for auction items by cheque or cash.

If you are an artist and have an article to donate to the auction, please contact:

Sylvia Söderlind
Associate Professor
Department of English
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
ss8@queensu.ca
Phone: 613-533-6000 ext. 74428
Fax:  613-533-6872


Canadian Mining Journal Poll – Take 5 seconds to vote!

Donna Dillman has forwarded the link to the Canadian Mining Journal’s poll on the recent decision in British Columbia to ban uranium mining.

Please scroll down and click on the link next to VOTE HERE and tell the Canadian Mining Journal that you want the ban enforced for all time!

The ban on uranium exploration and mining in British Columbia should:

– be scrapped immediately.

– be replaced with stiff regulations.

– be enforced for all time.

Uranium still hot in most of Canada:

Join the Christian Peacemaker Teams Aboriginal Justice Delegation to Algonquin Territory

May 31 – June 8, 2008 (please apply by May 16)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks participants for a delegation to Robertsville Mine (about 80 km north of Kingston, ON) where two Algonquin First Nations communities are struggling to protect their unceded land from uranium exploration and mining.

The CPT Aboriginal Justice Delegation will meet with Algonquin leaders and settler and environmental activists; seek the perspectives of those who are in support of uranium exploration (including government officials); make visits to the historic blockade site; develop an analysis of colonialism; participate in undoing racism training; and organize a public witness in support of the Algonquin’s struggle for justice. This is a crucial time for your voice to be heard for a just resolution of this matter.

Participants in this delegation should be prepared to:

Participate in non-violent public witness regarding Aboriginal sovereignty issues;
Be housed in rustic conditions, and spend time outside;
Communicate their experiences to local congregations, groups and the media upon return;

Arrange their own travel to and from Kingston, Ontario (CPT can assist with logistics);

Raise $275 (CDN or US) to cover delegation expenses.

For more information or to apply, contact:

Christian Peacemaker Teams, PO Box 6508, Chicago, IL 60680
Phone 1-800-318-2843; fax 773-277-0291; e-mail delegations@cpt.org
Applications available on the web at http://www.cpt.org; click “Delegations”

Frontenac Ventures Corporation (FVC) is licensed under the Ontario Mining Act to conduct exploratory drilling on 60 square kilometres of historic Algonquin territory. An open-pit uranium mine would release toxic radon gas and polonium, and leave behind millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings that will permanently pollute groundwater. The Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN) says, “Uranium mining will lead directly to our social, spiritual and cultural demise.” Algonquin leader Bob Lovelace has been jailed for his non-violent resistance to illegal and immoral actions by the Ontario government, while many other Algonquin leaders from both Shabot Obaadjiwan FN and AAFN face heavy fines. This delegation will coincide with the continued court proceedings related to this situation.

After occupying the Robertsville Mine for 107 days throughout the summer of 2007, both First Nations participated in a mediation process with the federal and provincial governments and FVC, talks which broke down when the provincial government predetermined that the outcome must include drilling.  In February and March, an Ontario Superior Court judge issued prison sentences and stiff fines to Algonquin leaders for their non-violent resistance to a court injunction which prohibited the blockade. The Algonquins have called for a moratorium on uranium exploration and are seeking a resolution to their historic national land claims. The resistance campaign to prevent uranium mining is supported by local “settler” (non-Algonquin) residents.

CPT is an initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers), with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations