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THUNDER BAY, ON, April 2 – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief RoseAnne Archibald today announced her support for a Fast by NAN Women’s Council in support of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) councilor Cecilia, while beginning a nation-wide fast by Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Women’s Council. “With its inaction to implement supreme court rulings regarding consultation and accommodation throughout the KI-Platinex ligation, the Government of Ontario has created political martyrs who’ve sacrificed their freedom for the future of their community. They’ve also created great heroes who’ve raised the bar on protecting Aboriginal and treaty rights,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief RoseAnne Archibald.
Cecilia Begg was sentenced to six months in jail following a civil contempt of court conviction for failing to obey a court order allowing junior mining exploration company Platinex Inc. to access KI traditional territory. Begg was sentenced along with KI Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, councilors Sam McKay, Darryl Sainnawap, and band member Bruce Sakakeep. Litigation between the remote northern community, Platinex Inc., and the Government of Ontario has been ongoing since Platinex sued KI for $10 billion after they were told to vacate the community February 2006.
“We are focusing on Cecilia as a woman, showing our support to a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who is making the ultimate sacrifice by being without her family for the greater good of her community,” said NAN Women’s Council spokesperson Jackie Fletcher with the support of council members Donna Orr, Rebecca Friday, Tina Rae, Dora Beardy, Theresa Sutherland, and NAN Elder Marie Boucher. “We want her to know that she is not alone and that she has the support of women and families not only across NAN territory, but across the country. She is in our thoughts and prayers.”
Six members of the NAN Women’s Council, three of whom have diabetes, announced a 24 hour fast Tuesday morning which began last night and will end this evening at 8:00 p.m. They are calling it a wave fast. Members of the Assembly of First Nation’s Women’s Council have already offered to continue the fast at 8:00 pm tonight, including AFN Women’s Council Chair Kathleen McHugh, BC representative Chief Lisa Shaver and NAN Deputy Grand Chief RoseAnne Archibald.
“This is a clear case where the federal and provincial governments failed to meet their legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations interests prior to approving projects that significantly affect the lands and livelihoods of First Nations citizens. Yet these same governments will protect private financial interests by jailing our people who defend their rights,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Kathleen McHugh, adding that she has contacted other women’s groups and invited them to take part in the wave fast. “It is shameful and unacceptable.”
The AFN Women’s Council ensures First Nation women’s perspectives are included in all AFN policy directives and activities, in addition to ensuring that the AFN is an effective advocate on behalf of First Nation’s women.
NAN Women’s Council will visit Begg at the Kenora Jail tomorrow. NAN leadership currently in Thunder Bay for a Special Chiefs Assembly will visit KI Chief Donny Morris remaining council at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre Thursday.
The NAN Women’s Council will be available to media on Wednesday April 2, 2008 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Travelodge Hotel Airlane, Salon B.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities within James Bay Treaty 9 and Treaty 5 territory – an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario. KI is a signatory to Treaty 9 (1929).
For further information: Jenna Young, Director of Communications, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4952 or (807) 628-3953 mobile, OR: Karyn Pujliese, Health Communications Officer, AFN, (613) 292-1877
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