Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KIFN) Chief Donnie Morris and five other members of the community will soon find out if they, like Ardoch Algonquin spokesperson Robert Lovelace, will be fined and incarcerated for asserting their own rights—that is, for attempting to stop a molestation by walking away from Canada’s so-called consultation process and refusing to accept unsanctioned development on their land as “a given.”
According to a recent Press Release by KIFN, which you can find below, sentencing will take place on March 17 at the Superior Court of Justice, 277 Camelot Street in Thunder Bay at 10:00 a.m.
If you would like some background about this case, there are several articles available on Intercontinental Cry. You can also visit www.kitchenuhmaykoosib.com for more news and to learn how you can support the KIFN.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2008
Thunder Bay, ON – Leaders of a First Nation community in northern Ontario will learn on March 17 whether they will be going to jail for contempt of court. Chief Donnie Morris and five other members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), an Aboriginal community located 600 km north of Thunder Bay, may be jailed for refusing to comply with an October, 2007 court ruling that allows Platinex Inc., a Toronto-based mineral exploration company, to begin drilling on KI traditional lands without protest or obstruction. KI has established a protest camp at the Platinex exploration site and have vowed to continue their protest despite the injunction.
The KI leaders were found in contempt of the October injunction at a hearing in January and Justice Smith reserved his decision on sentencing. The sentencing is part of a larger trend of heated battles on the ground and in the courts between First Nations and mining companies in Ontario. Outdated provincial laws which exclusively promote mining exploration are coming head-to-head with First Nations’ conservation values. Booming mineral prices have accelerated exploration throughout the province.
On February 15, Robert Lovelace, former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation in eastern Ontario, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, plus $25,000 in fines, for refusing to obey a similar injunction. Like KI, Adroch’s land was staked and exploratory drilling approved by Ontario without any consultation. Along with KI, they have proposed a joint panel to investigate what led to these conflicts and recommend new approaches to mineral exploration on First Nations’ lands, but have received no reply from Premier Dalton McGuinty. Instead, McGuinty instructed Ontario’s lawyers to sit silently in court while mining company lawyers sought jail terms and stiff fines for refusing allow exploration on land which they claim is theirs.
First Nation communities across Ontario have called for a moratorium on mining on disputed lands over concerns that they are not being properly consulted prior to industrial activities on their lands. McGuinty’s decision to allow continued staking of mineral claims, without any consultation with First Nations, has led to ongoing conflict.
Despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s rulings requiring consultation with First Nations prior to making decisions that affect their lands, the Ontario Government allowed Platinex to stake claims and begin exploratory drilling on KI’s traditional lands without any consultation. In response, KI decided to peacefully oppose Platinex’s mineral exploration activities on their traditional lands. Platinex in turn sued KI for $10 billion for denying the company access to the mining claims. In November Platinex filed a motion seeking to find KI in contempt of court and seeking fines and imprisonment. “Platinex seeks to jail our leaders and supporters and bankrupt our community,” Chief Donnie Morris said. “I’m prepared to go to jail for my belief in my land.”
“We want our children and grandchildren to be able to continue our traditions of hunting, trapping, and fishing,” said Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug spokesperson Sam McKay. “We are not afraid to go to jail to protect the environment at the potential mining site, plus the surrounding area which includes our Kitchenuhmaykoosib.”
Samuel McKay, Spokesperson, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, mobile: (807) 629-7266;
KI Band Office: (807) 537-2263
Paula Sherman, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, (613) 329-3706
Christopher Reid, Legal Counsel for KI and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, firstname.lastname@example.org, (416) 466-9928.
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