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Land Rights Not Mining Rights – Free Robert Lovelace and the KI 6

by NationTalk on April 3, 2008726 Views

Event: Wednesday April 9th, 6 pm

Ryerson Student’s Union 55 Gould St (between Victoria and Church)

Featuring Ovide Mercredi, former Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and members of the KI and Ardoch communities

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.

Co sponsors include:

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI)
Ardoch Algonquin First Nation
CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University
Ryerson Students’ Union
Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win
North-South Partnership on Children
Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada
CPAWS Wildlands League
Indigenous Environmental Network
Mining Watch Canada
Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment

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