Six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation were sentenced yesterday to six months in jail for opposing unsanctioned development on their Traditional lands.
KIFN has yet to make any formal statements about the ruling, but Deputy Grand Chief Glen Hare, representing the 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation, has spoke out in support of the Six.
“In one breath we hear Ontario talk about the importance of First Nations sharing in the wealth of the province’s resource revenues, and in the next breath they ignore Supreme Court of Canada rulings that say we need to be consulted by companies wanting to exploit our lands,” said Deputy Grand Chief Hare. “Meaningful consultation involves mutual respect, not telling First Nations where you’re going to drill for ore or clear-cut forests. That’s not how good neighbours behave.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy has also suspended all bilateral talks with the Province of Ontario.
“The extreme positions of the Government of Ontario to support jailing First Nation leaders is an insult to the so-called ‘new relationship’ with our people…” adding he rejects today’s ruling and the Northern Table is suspended until NAN Chiefs-in-Assembly provide further direction. “Today’s decision has disrespected and dishonoured Aboriginal law and custom, seriously jeopardizing any relationship with our treaty partner Ontario. We saw it last month with Ardoch and today we see it with KI.”
Aswell, more than 30 organizations came out to demand Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty “live up to his rhetoric about protecting the environment and improving Ontario’s relationship with its native communities.”
At first glance it would seem McGuinty is trying to do just that. For example, Ontario has since offered to pay KI’s $200,000 in legal fees (they went bankrupt in 2006 after Platinex sued them for $10 Billion) and they’ve also “secured numerous concessions from Platinex Inc., which has offered KI training, guaranteed jobs and a share in any mining revenue, plus restrictions on when and how any exploration takes place.”
However, Mcguinty is ignoring the elephant sitting on his desk. He continues to act like development is inevitable. It is not.
If there’s ever going to be a healthy relationship between the Provinces (under Canada) and Indigenous Nations, he needs to learn that. Obviously, the Ontario Courts needs to learn it as well. While we’re at it, so does the Federal Government and the Canadian People.
No means No. And to force a Yes answer is nothing less than molestation.
That’s precisely what this predictable court ruling was–a constitutional molestation. So much for upholding the integrity of the law, eh Canada?
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