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WEST VANCOUVER, April 23 – Regional Chief A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo) wishes to express his support for the six imprisoned members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation in Ontario. The K.I. 6, as they are now known, were imprisoned on contempt charges for preventing a mining company from conducting exploratory drilling on their traditional territory. At issue is the failure by the Government of Ontario to consult with the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation before issuing a mining permit to the mining company. “As supporters gather in Toronto today to rally behind their cause, we want the KI 6 to know First Nations across Canada stand with them,” said BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo), “In defending their right to be consulted, they are sending a message that First Nations will not be ignored and remain unbowed when it comes to defending our constitutional rights.”
What is clear is that the Province of Ontario failed in its duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations interests. It is a duty established and reinforced by a number of Supreme Court of Canada decisions. The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation was left with little choice but to resort to civil disobedience. All First Nations are asking that the K.I. 6 be freed from jail and are calling for a unified approach to resolving the dispute.
“Nothing constructive can come from jailing these six individuals,” said Regional Chief Atleo, “The continued disrespect of their inherent rights has the potential to lead to future disputes; The government of Ontario has spoken about a desire for a ‘New Relationship’ with First Nations. Now is the time to put effect to those words.”
BC Regional Chief A-in-chut is elected by and accountable to the 203 First Nations in British Columbia.
For further information: Ryneld Starr, Communications Officer, BC Assembly of First Nations, Office: (604) 922-7733, Cell: (604) 837-6908, E-mail: email@example.com
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