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For Immediate Release - July 7, 2008

 

Court of Appeal Calls on Ontario to Negotiate with KI and Ardoch

 

On February 15, 2008, Robert Lovelace, retired Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, was sentenced to six months in a maximum security prison.  His crime?  He had declared that he could not obey a court order which banned peaceful protest against uranium exploration on his community’s territory in eastern Ontario, because he must obey Algonquin law which forbids uranium mining and exploration.  The government of Ontario had approved the exploration program in 2006 without any consultation with the Ardoch Algonquins and without any regard for the sensitive ecology of the area. 

 

On March 17, Chief Donny Morris and five other leaders of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) received a similar six month sentence in a very similar case. In KI’s case Ontario had also approved the staking and exploration of land which KI says is part of its traditional territory which should not be subjected to the environmental impacts of mining.  The six KI leaders – Chief Morris, Dpty. Chief Jack McKay, Spokesperson Sam McKay, Councilors Cecilia Begg and Daryl Sainnawap and Bruce Sakakeep – became known as the “KI Six”.  Like the Ardoch Algonquins, they had refused to obey a court order prohibiting them from interfering with mining in their territory.

 

In both cases, Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Michael Bryant, instructed Ontario’s lawyers to support the mining companies in seeking the harshest possible punishment for our “disobedience” of Ontario’s laws.  The government made it clear at every step of the legal proceedings that their only priority is to support the 19th century Mining Act which states mining is always the best use of land and any peaceful protesters who oppose mining should expect jail and crippling fines.

 

The incarceration of seven respected community leaders for peacefully obeying their own laws and resisting the destruction of their territories led to an outpouring of support for KI and Ardoch and calls from environmental groups, unions, churches and community activists to reform the outdated Mining Act to allow communities to say ‘no’ to mining.

 

On May 28, an appeal of our sentences was heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal.  The Court ordered the immediate release of Bob Lovelace and the KI Six, but did not release the reasons for their decision until today. 

 

In today’s ruling the Court of Appeal said that the Mining Act, which the Court called “a remarkably sweeping law” which allows prospectors to stake claims on any Crown land, and which allows no role for communities in deciding whether mineral exploration occurs in their territories, “lies at the heart of this case”.

 

The Court noted that both KI and Ardoch had consistently asked the government of Ontario to engage in direct negotiations with them to resolve these disputes rather than supporting the mining companies’ efforts to obtain injunctions and then have community leaders jailed for refusing to obey the injunctions.  The Court said:

 

“Where a requested injunction is intended to create ‘a protest-free zone’ for contentious private activity that affects asserted aboriginal or treaty rights, the court must be very careful to ensure that, in the context of the dispute before it, the Crown has fully and faithfully discharged its duty to consult with the affected First Nations.  The court must further be satisfied that every effort has been exhausted to obtain a negotiated or legislated solution to the dispute before it.  Good faith on both sides is required in this process”

 

Said Bob Lovelace, “We feel fully vindicated in the position we have taken and remain committed to our position that there will be no mineral exploration within the territories of KI or Ardoch without our consent.  Our laws, which require respect for the land, are entitled to at least as much respect as Ontario’s repugnant Mining Act.  We remain open to negotiations, but Ontario has never responded to our proposals for negotiations.  We want negotiations, not conflict, but we will enforce our laws and protect our land.”

 

KI Spokesperson Sam McKay added:  “The decision of the Court of Appeal proves that we went to jail because of the stubborn refusal of the provincial government to respect our laws and our perspective on development within our territories.  The Premier of Ontario owes an apology to the people of KI and Ardoch, especially to those of us who were jailed for opposing an outdated and immoral law.  A sincere apology would begin a process of healing and reconciliation.” 

 

 

Background Legal Issues

 

To encourage mining and exploration, Ontario’s Mining Act is based on a “free entry” system, which means that all Crown lands, including those subject to Aboriginal title claims, are open for staking, exploration and mining without any consultation or permitting required.  Anyone with a prospector’s license may stake claims and prospect for minerals on any Crown land. Once a claim has been staked the Mining Recorder “shall” record the claims.  There is no opportunity or requirement for consultations with affected First Nation communities.  Once a claim is recorded, the prospector can conduct exploratory drilling without any more permits being required. 

 

It is also important to realize that in the 2004 Haida case, the Supreme Court made it clear that First Nations which have asserted rights claims or land claims, but have not yet proven their claims, must be consulted and accommodated, but they cannot "veto" development on disputed land.  Consultations and accommodation can include measures to mitigate the impacts of the project and provide some compensation for the affected communities, but they must lead towards implementation of the project.  KI spent more than 18 months and $700,000 trying to break out of this legal box only to find ourselves faced with an injunction which permits drilling by Platinex and forbids us from obstructing Platinex.

 

The only way to achieve what KI and Ardoch believe is a fair and just solution is through negotiations between Ontario and the First Nations.  Negotiations could lead to land use plans which withdraw sensitive lands from mineral staking and mining. 

 

We Want Good Faith Negotiations

 

Both KI and Ardoch remain committed to the proposal which we made in January for a Joint Panel to examine the causes of these disputes and make recommendations for preventing similar disputes in the future.  Although Ontario has not yet responded to the proposal, both communities have told him that we are still prepared to work with Ontario to set up the Joint Panel, as soon as all of the prisoners are released from jail and a moratorium on mining and exploration in the disputed territories is implemented.

 

 

 

Contacts:

Sam McKay, Spokesperson, KI (807) 537-2263

Robert Lovelace, Ardoch FN – (613) 532-2166

Chris Reid, Legal Counsel for KI and Ardoch: (416) 666-2914

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April 23, 2008

 

Speaking Notes for Jacob Ostaman

Chiefs of Ontario Rally, Toronto

Support Rally for KI

 

 

Good afternoon: my name is Jacob Ostaman. I have been appointed acting spokesperson for KI while our leadership is incarcerated.

 

I would like thank you to Chief LaForm and the peoples of Mississauga First Nation, for being in their territory today.

 

Thank you, … for coming today. The KI peoples thank-you for your ongoing support for the incarcerated KI Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, and Councilors: Cecilia Begg, Sam McKay, Darryl Sainnawap, and band member: Bruce Sakakeep.

 

About an hour ago, I just got off a telephone with the KI6 and received instructions to stay the course, and they are willing to stay in jail because the community’s mandate is “no drilling”. Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug has the right to veto mining rights.

 

We have received tremendous support from every where.  Just this past week, we had one of members present to the UN about KI.

 

Our fight with the Province of Ontario has caused considerable stress and frustration in our community and in particular ….. the Elders, the wives, the children and grandchildren of our leaders who have been taken away.

 

Our ancestors were signatories and were there for the treaty #9 adhesion signing in 1929, believing that they were doing so with intent of creating the framework for a peaceful coexistence; we did so - always with the best interests of the people at heart. This signing was never land surrender.

 

We have always honoured this treaty relationship and continue to so today. We are not the ones in conflict and we are not the ones who have breached the agreement.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug have been severely damaged by the decision by Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to register mineral claims and authorize exploration drilling in our territory without our consent and without any consent with us.  This decision, which was based on free entry system embodied in Ontario’s Mining Act, has resulted in bitter conflict pitting our community against the combined forces of the mining industry and the government of Ontario.

 




We take a strong stand on the following:

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug take the position that Treaty no. 9, adhesion 1929, was never a treaty of land surrender.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug have accepted the custodianship responsibilities of their territories according to KI customs and traditional laws.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug believe and know that we have NOT been adequately consulted on mining exploration and development by Platinex.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug call for Platinex to leave our traditional homelands.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug request Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister Michael Gravelle, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines have the moral courage to revoke Platinex’s exploration and drilling permits because they do not fulfill the constitutional requirements for consultation and accommodation.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug demand that all mining companies be granted permits only after proper environmental assessments and real consultation with all First Nations.

 

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug call for the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations to terminate and abandon all partnerships with the mining industry.

 

The peoples of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug call for Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and its Northern Table with the Province of Ontario be terminated at once.

 

 

Ending

 

The peoples of KI is grateful for the support of all First Nations from across the country, we want action rather than rhetoric in dealing with mining companies.

 

We are also grateful to all our non-First Nations brothers and sisters, and organizations to have written to the government of Ontario about KI6’s release from jail.

 

The peoples of KI want a show of action of solidarity from all First Nations, -- our brothers and sisters from the Chippewas of Sarnia, stated: “they will not engage in any further discussions with the Province of Ontario until all KI 6 [of the above mentioned] are released unconditionally, in their dealings with the mining industry by terminating all arrangements.”

 

There are tremendous impacts which are social, economic, psychological and spiritual. We need action now, not lip service. We need strong support

MONDAY-TUESDAY, APRIL 21-22, 2008

LAKEHEAD UNIVERSITY’S AGORA

 

MEET ON MONDAY, APRIL 21 AT

7:30-9:00 a.m.: Ceremony to open fast; introduction to KI6 situation

Noon-1:00 p.m.: Drumming, round table & open mike for questions & comments

4:00-5:00 p.m.:  Drumming, various speakers

 

MEET ON TUESDAY, APRIL 22 AT

8:00-9:00 a.m.: To discuss further action and close fast

 

A group of concerned Elders, faculty, staff and students at Lakehead University are picking up the challenge of fasting to support the KI6, all of whom were jailed for contempt of court after continuing to refuse to allow the Province of Ontario and mining company Platinex to proceed with exploration in their territory without their consent. The KI6 are leaders of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (Big Trout) in northern Ontario. The “wave” fast challenge was started by the Nishnawbe Aski Women’s Council on April 1-2 to support Councillor Cecilia Begg, the only woman jailed, and has since been taken up by organizations across Canada.

 

We welcome members of the university community and wider community of Thunder Bay and area to join us to fast, pledge financial support for the KI6 and/or learn more about the KI6 situation. We are also challenging organizations in the area and other colleges and universities across Canada to take up the wave fast in support of the KI6. Feel free to drop in during any of the scheduled times above.

 

For further information, contact Peggy Smith at 343-8672 or pasmith@lakeheadu.ca

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For Immediate Release
March 26, 2008



Recent Ontario Court decision to incarcerate First Nation
leaders has detrimental impact on children.


Toronto, ON – Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win: The North-South Partnership for
Children held a press conference today to voice their concern about the
impact the recent court decision to incarcerate six members of
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) will have on the community at large and
most importantly, on the children. On March 17, 2008, five democratically
elected First Nation community leaders and one community member were
sentenced to six months in jail on contempt charges for their peaceful
opposition to a court injunction that would allow mining exploration on
their traditional lands.

“Chief Donny Morris, my colleague, my friend and co-chair of Mamow
Sha-way-gi-kay-win, a kind and a gentle person, is in jail for a cause
that is crucial to the well-being of his community. The children, youth,
mothers, fathers and grandparents are struggling with these actions of the
province,” said Judy Finlay, former Ontario Child Advocate and co-chair of
the Partnership.

The climate of fear and hopelessness created by the imprisonment is
unbearable for the First Nation community and most particularly for the
children. To children already enduring unacceptable rates of depression,
suicide and family and cultural separation, removing the principled and
caring leaders of their small community is devastating.

“KI is afraid. There is terror in the community. The children recognize
their parents’ terror, it is very scary,” reports KI spokesperson Jacob
Ostaman.

The province has stated, “Ontario is charting a new course…that leads to
improved opportunities and a better future for Aboriginal children and
youth.” Yet, inadequate legislation, the lack of
constitutionally-protected due process to consult First Nations
communities, and resulting court decisions provide undeniable evidence
that Ontario is not fulfilling its commitments. “To incarcerate community
champions for children – one of the few assets the children of KI have –
is to further set back their chances for a healthy, productive life,”
explains Finlay.

“I am alarmed that this is the second Chief in Ontario that we see in this
situation. I am alarmed to see who may be next. I am saddened at the
message the government of Ontario is giving to the most vulnerable of it’s
citizens, the First Nation children and youth,” Chief Scott Jacob of
Webequie First Nation.

Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win: The North-South Partnership for Children calls
for the following steps to prioritize the protection and well-being of the
children of KI:
The immediate release of incarcerated KI community members back into the
community to continue their support for the children of KI, their families
and their children.
The Ontario government to withdraw the mining permit, as it was not
granted in accordance with the principles of consultation as set out by
the Supreme Court.
The amendment of the antiquated Ontario Mining Act so that it is
consistent with the protection of the constitutional rights of First
Nations people.
The legislative review process to include a child impact assessment, so
that future decisions consider the full spectrum of environmental and
human rights obligations - consistent with Canada’s ratification of the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Understanding and support from the entire province to ensure a just
solution is realized.

-30-

For more information:

Alana Kapell
Southern Coordinator
Office: 905 944 7087
Cell. : 416 986 6772
akapell@northsouthpartnership.com

Linda Nothing Chaplin
Northern Coordinator
Office: 807 737 3466
Cell.: 807 737 0674
Linda.Nothing-Chaplin@northsouthpartnership.com

Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win: The North-South Partnership for Children is a
developing partnership that represents the coming together of First Nation
Chiefs, Elders, youth and community members living in remote communities
in northwestern Ontario and caring individuals and voluntary organizations
based in southern Ontario.

In recognition of the desperate needs of children, youth and families in
remote First Nation communities, our collective goal is to learn from one
another and to support the dreams and efforts of remote northern First
Nation communities for their children.


www.northsouthpartnership.com

March 26, 2008

 

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty

Premier of Ontario

Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON

M7A 1A1        Fax:  (416) 325-3745

 

Dear Premier McGuinty:

 

On February 15, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN) Spokesperson Robert Lovelace was sentenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Kingston to 6 months in jail, plus crippling fines, for peacefully upholding Algonquin law forbidding uranium mining within the Ardoch homeland.  

 

On March 17, a Superior Court judge in Thunder Bay sentenced six leaders of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) to six months after being found in contempt of court in dispute which is virtually identical to that of the Ardoch Algonquins.   The KI Six - Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, Spokesman Sam McKay, Councillors Cecilia Begg and Darryl Sainnawap and community member Bruce Sakakeep.

 

The jailing of respected, law-abiding community leaders has had a devastating impact on our communities, particularly on the families of those incarcerated.  The indifference shown by your government towards the rights of First Nation communities and the imposition of long jail terms and crippling fines in the name of “the rule of law” has further eroded respect for both the legal system and the government of Ontario in the eyes of First Nations people in this province.

 

The cases of the KI Six and Robert Lovelace are strikingly similar.  In both cases your government gave approvals to mining companies to conduct aggressive mineral exploration on land claimed by First Nations as their own.  In both cases this approval was given without any consultation with the affected community.  In both cases the First Nation community was forced to take action to end the illegal exploration when your government refused to act.  In both cases the mining company sought and obtained court injunctions to end the peaceful protests of the First Nations.  In both cases the lawyers representing Ontario supported the mining industry’s legal maneuvers at every stage. 

 

Since the jailing of the KI Six, your Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Michael Bryant, has publicly stated that he has “bent over backwards” to try to resolve the disputes which led to the incarceration of seven First Nations from our two communities.  We want to set the record straight.

 

In the case of Ardoch, there has been no response from either yourself or Minister Bryant to our several proposals for peacefully resolving the dispute.  Minister Bryant’s staff also have not responded to several calls and emails seeking a response to our proposals.  In the case of KI, although Mr. Bryant has visited the community, he has never responded to our proposals.  Instead, he simply tabled his own proposed “agreements” which had been drafted by his staff without any consultation with the people of KI.

 

Bob Lovelace has now been in jail for 41 days while the KI Six are now in their second week of incarceration.  They are prisoners of conscience, jailed by the government of Ontario to send a message that the interests of the mining industry will trump Aboriginal rights and the environment of Ontario.

 

Our two communities remain committed to resolving these disputes peacefully, through negotiations.  We call on you to support the unconditional release of our leaders and negotiators.  We also call on you to accept the proposal made to you by Ardoch on January 11, 2008 and by KI on January 17, 2008 to establish a joint panel which will investigate the causes of these disputes and make recommendations for avoiding similar disputes in the future.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Jacob Ostaman                                                 Chief Paula Sherman

For Chief Donny Morris, LI                                          For AAFN

 

 

Cc:       Hon. M. Bryant

            Ontario FN Chiefs

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PRESS RELEASE

March 20, 2008

 

Kitchenuhmaykoosib, Ontario - We are saddened today that our leaders have been jailed for contempt and they’re there for what they strongly believe – to protect Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Homelands! 

 

As a result of our community assembly on March 18, 2008, the present Chief and Council notably, Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, Head Councillor Cecilia Begg, Councillors Samuel McKay and Darryl Sainnawap are still our leaders and are deemed equivalent as leaders in exile as expressed by the people of Kitchenuhmaykoosib.  One band member, Bruce Sakakeep is also in jail for contempt as well.

 

The remaining Council members Susan Nanokeesic, Kenny Martin and Angus McKay are still politically active at the community level with the assistance of a working group members consisting of 18 community members.

 

With consultation between the exiled Council members and the Council in Kitchenuhmaykoosib, we take strong stand on the following:

 

  1. No Parliamentarian, be it federal or provincial member is allowed in the Homelands of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug;

 

  1. No more free entry to Kitchenuhamaykoosib lands by Platinex or any other mining entity including First Nation mining companies;

 

  1. Ongoing blockade will be more protected and secured in order to protect our KI Homelands;

 

  1. Assembly of First Nations must abandon the partnership agreements with the mining industry in Canada;

 

  1. All First Nation political territorial organizations in Ontario do not speak directly for or on behalf of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, but their support on the issue is welcome;

 

  1. Ontario must respond to our proposal made with our brothers and sisters of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, to establish a joint panel on mining on First Nations lands.

 

There is suspicion and fear on our part as a result of the court’s disposition on our leaders.  There is no more sense of safety and well being for all Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug to rely on the Canadian government’s legal and statutory obligations on our people, especially the government of Ontario.  The court document and its’ disposition gives us anxiety and terror for we are all distressed enough with our present social and economic situation.

 

The court ruling is a deliberate attack on the blood, bone and spirit of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.  It referenced many cases and ancient views of “rule of law” that we don’t agree with it.  The mention of “Magna Carta” is no exception.  Ontario uses it to make a false disposition on our people.  The remnants of Magna Carta did indeed killed off many Indigenous peoples in both South and North Americas.  The principle of that no one is above the law is hypocritical as displayed by the government of Ontario!

 

The Ontario emissary, Mr. Michael Bryant came to our community and offered no formal agenda and plan for negotiations.  There was no real substance for negotiations despite what he said in a press release dated March 17, 2008.  Unfortunately, this is the day that our leaders were imprisoned  The Ontario emissary Mr. Bryant is indeed speaking fork-tongued, repeated once again as Treaty Commissioners did back in 1929.  He is not formally talking to anyone at KI as he professes to be!

 

KI Council along with our brothers and sisters at Ardoch Algonquin First Nation who are facing similar situation jointly submitted a proposal to Ontario outlining moratorium on exploration and mining in the disputed areas; a joint panel to consist three-party membership to investigate exploration and mining issues; and to negotiate interim measures agreement.  Mr. Bryant did not take our proposal seriously and he will not even mention any of the contents described.

 

We are very thankful for those that supported us from the beginning and we still need your support more than ever.  With your ongoing support, KI will prevail.

 

 

 

 

Contacts:

 

Jacob Ostaman, Spokesman, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug

KI Band Office (807) 537-2263

 

Chris Reid, Legal Counsel for Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug

(416) 666-2914

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