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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is British Columbia Nigeria North?

Shell methane project in Sacred Headwaters triggers Financial Times ad

September 11, 2007 (Vancouver, BC) – Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and six other international conservation groups are running an advertisement in today’s Financial Times in London, UK, targeting Royal Dutch Shell’s plan for a coalbed methane gas field in northern BC’s Sacred Headwaters.

The ad features protesters at a First Nations road blockade and the headline, “This time it’s Canada.”

“Shell’s European executives and the British Columbian government need to know the world is watching their actions in the Sacred Headwaters,” said Lisa Matthaus with Sierra Club of Canada, one of the ad signatories. “If Shell pushes ahead with its plan to drill for gas in the Sacred Headwaters, they will face an escalating international campaign.”

The Sacred Headwaters is the shared birthplace of three of BC’s most important wild salmon rivers: the Skeena, Nass and Stikine. It is also home to grizzly bears, caribou, wolves and stone sheep.

Last month, members of the Tahltan First Nation blockaded the main access road into the Sacred Headwaters, preventing Shell from resuming its drilling program. Shell applied for a court injunction against the blockade, but later postponed its application.

On August 31, hundreds of concerned citizens in Vancouver and Smithers protested Shell’s coal bed methane project in the Sacred Headwaters.

For more information, contact:

Go to http://www.sacredheadwaters.com/

Or call

Lisa Matthaus, Sierra Club BC: (250) 888-6267

Will Horter, Dogwood Initiative: (250) 370-9930

Merran Smith, ForestEthics: (250) 847-5869

David MacKinnon, Rivers Without Borders:

(867) 668-5098

Sacred Headwaters Rally



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Native Rights Rally in Queen's Park

From CPTnet

26 September 2007

TORONTO: Christian Peacemaker Congress joins witness calling on Ontario legislature to respect First Nation moratoria on industrial use of traditional lands

In advance of the October 10 Ontario 2007 provincial election, more than 250 CPTers, native rights and environmental activists joined First Nation leaders at the Ontario Legislature on Friday, September 21, 2007 to issue a challenge to all political parties: respect moratoria issued by indigenous communities against industrial activities on their traditional lands.

As part of the witness, participants unfurled a seventy-five-metre-long banner in the shape of a yellow arrow that read, "Native Land Rights Now."

Co-sponsored by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the witness was a scheduled event of CPT's first Peacemaker Congress in Canada.

Native groups in attendance included representatives from Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows), Ardoch and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nations and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN.) NAN represents forty-nine First Nations communities, covering two-thirds of Ontario. KI Councillor and Spokesperson John Cutfeet addressed the gathering.



The public witness included the laying of 107 ribbons--one for each electoral riding (district) in Ontario--as a symbolic call for candidates to remember and honour Ontario's historic treaty commitments to indigenous people.


Located in northwestern Ontario, Grassy Narrows is maintaining the longest standing blockade in Canadian history to stop Abitibi Consolidated from clear-cutting their traditional land use area. CPT accompanied the Grassy Narrows blockade from its beginning in December 2002 until the summer of 2004. A RAN boycott campaign targeting Weyerhauser, the principal buyer of softwood fibre taken from Grassy Narrows territory, has resulted in the high-profile appointment of former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to negotiate land use issues between Grassy Narrows and the government of Ontario. However, the province has yet to abide by the moratorium against clearcutting issued by Grassy Narrows in February of this year. (See www.freegrassy.org for more information.)

The Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nations have been blockading an access road on their unceded territory since June 28, 2007 in order to stop Frontenac Ventures from uranium mine exploration. A court injunction against the blockade of the road--located an hour north of Kingston, ON--was served on 31 August 2007. CPT has maintained a presence at the blockade since Labour Day. Police charged seven people with violating the injunction on 18 September 2007, among them CPTer David Milne.

(See http://www.aafna.ca for more information.)

In February 2006, the Ontario Government granted permission for Platinex Inc. to drill for diamonds in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) territory.

A fly-in community located 600 km north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, KI is challenging the constitutionality of the Ontario Mining Act on the grounds that it privileges mining interests over Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, which is a violation of section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. (See http://tinyurl.com/2wdnyn for more information.)

Photos of the action are available

http://flickr.com/photos/rainforestactionnetwork/sets/72157602110960221

Friday, September 21, 2007

Who's Really on Trial Here?

By Bob Holmes
Robertsville, ON
CPT Canada News
September 19, 2007




Harold Perry, honorary chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN), was driven to court in Kingston, Ontario by his daughter Mona on September 18, 2007. He expected to be arrested, something he welcomed because it would bring to a head the on-going conflict of the Algonquins with Frontenac Ventures and the provincial government of Ontario. The government is allowing Frontenac to explore for uranium on unceded Algonquin lands without Algonquin permission.

On June 28, 2007, the AAFN, together with the Shabot Obaajiwan First Nation, closed the gate at the entrance of the road being used for uranium exploration. The Algonquins occupied the area inside the gate and, in support, non-aboriginal settlers from the area set up a tent city outside the gate. (Non-aboriginal supporters of the blockade call themselves “settlers” to acknowledge their status as newcomers on the land.)

On August 31, a court injunction obtained by Frontenac Ventures against the gate closing was read in front of the gate, but no one heard it: native drummers and settler singers drowned out the sheriff's voice. Since then, the Alonquins and their supporters have been afraid the police will enforce the injunction in spite of the frequent presence of unarmed, plain-clothed Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) liaison officers pursuing a negotiated settlement to the impasse. The OPP liaison projects are a direct result of the Ipperwash Inquiry into the death of a native person, Dudley George, in another such occupation.

In court, OPP officers named those they had observed inside the gate following the reading of the injunction. Harold was amongst them. Frontenac Ventures subpoenaed one of the liaison officers. When asked to name those he had observed inside the gate, he stated, "My role was one of mediation, not intelligence gathering, and I made no notes of who was or was not inside the gate."

Robert Lovelace, a former AAFN chief, said at the end of hearing, "The fact that a liaison officer can be required to testify in court greatly undermines the credibility of these new OPP initiatives.”

Over the lunch break, Harold and other Algonquins in attendance asked their lawyers to tell the court that they were not disputing their presence inside the gate in order to hasten a court trial where arguments for the justice of their actions could be heard. The issue is about who actually owns the land, not whether they are inside the gate or not.

Christian Peacemaker David Milne added his name to the list and the lawyers for Frontenac Ventures insisted that a settler instrumental in the resistance to uranium mining add his name as well. The judge accepted the request and set September 24 as the day to set date for trial.

But the question is who really is on trial: the Algonquins and their supporters resisting the ravages of uranium mining, or the federal and provincial governments careless enough to issue permits on lands in the midst of treaty claims?

Let us pray that the new judge will preside over a court of justice rather than a court of law, since the laws of Ontario are not in accord with a just stance towards our Aboriginal sisters and brothers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

An Alternate Route To Social Justice

By
Victoria Marie


And they must rejoice when they live among people [who are considered to be] of little worth and who are looked down upon, among the poor and the powerless, the sick and the lepers, and the beggars by the wayside (Francis of Assisi in Lynch OFM, 1998).


Feminist theory encourages the researcher to situate herself. In adherence to feminist principles, I wish to situate myself by showing how I arrive at my passion for social justice. I am an African-American (Canadian) Catholic woman and a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Joy, an ecumenical religious community of women. This social position contains several points of marginality within society and the Catholic Church. The Church as a whole is admittedly patriarchal and in North America is a predominately white institution. The community of sisters to which I belong is marginal within the church because of our stance on living without property as individuals and as a community.

The concept of social justice has a long but uncelebrated history within the Roman Catholic Church. Along with those who accept the status quo of the wider society, there have been individuals and movements whose works went counter to the prevailing attitudes in the church and in society. In recent history, liberation theologians and practitioners are one but not the only example. In this paper, I will discuss two theological traditions which influence my research interests: The Franciscan Movement initiated by Francis of Assisi and the Catholic Worker Movement founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. These movements share philosophical egalitarian perspectives concretely expressed in that each practiced, as much as possible for their time, equality between the sexes and an absence of race-based exclusion. There is an example of Franciscan inclusivity as early as the sixteenth century. Saint Benedict the Black, born 1526 and died in 1589, was appointed superior of his friary in Palermo. In North America, St. Benedict is almost a secret except among Black Catholics. However, he is celebrated in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latin American. Although I have only recently become familiar with Franciscan history, I have always been deeply influenced by the spiritual tradition of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, succinctly called, Franciscan spirituality.

Spirituality, according to Perrin & McDermott (1997) is “an individual’s philosophy, value, and meaning of life” (p. 1). Of significance here is the concept of spirituality as the basic value around which all other values are focused, the central philosophy of life, which guides a person’s conduct (Perrin & McDermott, 1997, p. 7). One tenet of Franciscan spirituality is that even when marginalized, we are all challenged to become the person God has called us to be and to help others to do the same. I live and work in the Vancouver’s inner city. I see and have come to know people with addictions as people, not statistics or problems. As a recovering alcoholic, I know the difficulty involved in trying to stop the slow suicide of addiction.

When we think of the addict as morally bankrupt it allows us to forget that we are a society that bankrupts its citizens through the bottom-line thinking that has mesmerized us. We have no respect, room or tolerance for our visionaries, dreamers, artists and healers unless we can put a price on their visions, dreams, art and healing strategies. We start killing them as soon as they start school. We let corporate money and business decide what our society’s educational and social needs are. Instead of letting people become who God intended them to be, we dictate what they should become according to Market forces. Thea Bowman, an African American Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, said,

Some people are taught that they are superior, some that they are inferior. Many of us have internalized racist, materialistic and elitist values and assumptions. But I think we have within ourselves the power to reevaluate those assumptions.. . . .It is important to say to your child every day "You're somebody special because you're God's child." And say to your wife or husband, "You're God's gift to me and I really, really, really love you." . . . [Thea] encourages teachers to have their students display their baby pictures on the bulletin board as "heroes and she-roes of the future." Whatever will boost the children’s self-image will go a long way toward equipping them to be leaders in the community (Bowman in Jones, 1988, p. 4).


It was in this context of theology and spirituality that I became aware of issues of social justice. Hence, my motivation in working for social justice is theologically based.

I am no stranger to oppression and marginalization. Like Lange (2000) who sought to find a way to bring the ideas of liberation theology to middle-class Canadians and Zarowny (1992), I recognize the need for a homemade theology of liberation. Zarowny writes:

To borrow Megan McKenna’s analogy of liberation theology as “theology done from the perspective of Job’s dung-heap,” we had tried to borrow the dung-heap of Central America’s majority rather than use our own Canadian dung-heap as the perspective through which to gain guidance and sustenance from Jesus’ teachings (Zarowny, 1992, p. 391).


Similarly, feminist standpoint theory advises that feminist theorizing cannot and should not be done as if coming from one location. These two streams of thought, feminist standpoint theory and theology of liberation, advocate that the work one does should contribute to a change in society by the identification, acknowledgement, and an effort to reduce power differences and by working in solidarity with rather than doing research on those relegated to the periphery of mainstream society. In this context, I see no contradiction between feminist thought and a theology of liberation. I situate myself as being influenced by both perspectives in my research project choices. For me, a theology of liberation occurs at the confluence of the Catholic Worker Movement and Franciscan spirituality. My position may be clarified by the following brief description of the Catholic Worker Movement and my participation in it.

The Catholic Worker Movement was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Dorothy Day was a journalist involved in the women’s suffrage movement. She was influenced by the Communist philosophy. Day was a pacifist and a supporter of workers’ rights. Day’s common law husband abandoned her when she had their daughter baptized. Soon after, she converted to Roman Catholicism. In 1933, she met Peter Maurin, who introduced her to Catholic social teachings. Maurin advocated “roundtable discussions for the clarification of thought”, “houses of hospitality” an idea based on early and medieval Christian hospices; and “agronomic universities” or farming communes where workers could learn and professors could work (Ellis, 1988). These three ideals became the foundation of the Catholic Worker Movement. At the same time, the Catholic Worker Movement is dedicated to the social justice interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and the social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Worker tradition emphasizes orthopraxy (right practice or right actions) as the expression of orthodoxy (right belief). The members of this movement are not necessarily Catholic or Christian. Hence orthodoxy here means respecting everyone because of the imprint of the Creator on all of creation. For Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, the reason to get involved and the solution to social problems is love and must therefore be rooted in love.

I am a founding and resident member of the Vancouver Catholic Worker. The Vancouver Catholic Worker, in keeping with Catholic Worker tradition offers hospitality —in the form of food, clothing, shelter and friendship —to those who need it; holds roundtable discussions; and has an urban communal “farm” in lieu of an agronomic university.

Smith (2001) compares the Catholic Worker movement and liberation theology stating, “Liberation theology speaks of freedom for the oppressed; the Catholic Worker calls us to voluntary poverty, service and work” (Smith, 2001, p. 163). Smith’s comparison needs modification in that not all adherents of liberation theology are oppressed nor are all Catholic Workers poor voluntarily. Smith advises that those in the first world who appreciate liberation theology and would like to become involved, need look no further than their local Catholic Worker community (Smith, 2001, p. 164).

Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin were greatly influenced by Saint Francis of Assisi. Before his conversion, Francis found lepers abhorrent and went out of his way to avoid them. Shortly after his conversion, Francis encountered a leper who was begging for alms. He braced himself, determined to treat the leper as the suffering Christ personified, and gave the leper the kiss of peace. Francis describes the experience in these words: “that which seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body” (Assisi & Assisi, 1982, p. 154). I relate this story because it illustrates the fundamental aim of the Catholic Worker Movement and Franciscan spirituality which is to learn how to sincerely embrace the leper.

Those with a history of substance abuse, who participate in the sex trade, or are otherwise marginalized by extreme poverty and homelessness, are the “lepers” of modern, mainstream society. Analogously, the marginalized of today are treated as outcasts of society just as actual lepers were in former times. As one who has a history of substance abuse, in addition to being a woman of African descent, marginalization is not foreign territory. Franciscan spirituality, the Catholic Worker Movement, and liberation theology build on and reinforce each other, resulting in a radical theological perspective that challenges the comfortable in the Church, and society in general.



Bibliography

Assisi, Saint Francis of, & Assisi, Saint Clare of. (1982). Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (R. J. Armstrong OFM Cap & I. C. Brady OFM, Trans.). Toronto: Paulist Press.

Ellis, M. (1988). Peter Maurin: To Bring the Social Order to Christ - Part 1. In P. G. Coy (Ed.), A Revolution of the Heart: Essays on the Catholic Worker (pp. 15-46). Philadelphia: Temple University Press. http://www.catholicworker.org/roundtable/pmlegacytext.cfm?Number=65.

Jones, A. (1988). She Sings a Ululu Story That Began in Africa. National Catholic Reporter, pp. 4.

Lynch OFM, C. J. (1998). Earlier Rule of St. Francis of Assisi. In O. Cyprian J. Lynch (Ed.), An Anthology of Franciscan Poverty. St. Bonaventure: The Franciscan Institute.

Perrin, K. M., & McDermott, R. J. (1997). The spiritual dimension of health: A review. American Journal of Health Studies, 13(2), 90. 9710272768.

Smith, M. R. (2001). The Catholic Worker Movement: Toward a Theology of Liberation for First World Disciples. In W. Thorn & P. Runkel & S. Mountin (Eds.), Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement: Centenary essays (Vol. 32). Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.

Zarowny, Y. (1992). Liberation Theology in a Canadian Context: A Case Study, Liberation Theology and Sociopolitical Transformation: A reader. Burnaby: Institute for the Humanities Simon Fraser University.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

CPT Sends Team to First Nations Blockade

CPT sent a violence reduction team yesterday to accompany the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadijiwan First Nations in their continuing blockade of uranium mining exploration on their unceded territory.

An Ontario Superior Court injunction was served against the blockade on August 31, 2007. The injunction grants mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corporation “immediate” and “unfettered” access to the 8,000 hectares it has staked and is currently drilling. The Ontario Provincial Police have not said whether or not they intend to enforce the injunction.

Ardoch Algonquin First Nation is a non-status, non-treaty Aninshinaabe community of about 700 members located in the Madawaska, Mississippi and Rideau watersheds (Frontenac and Lanark counties in eastern Ontario). They have not ceded title to the lands currently under exploration by Frontenac. Aboriginal title to unceded land is established in Canadian law by the Royal Proclamation Act of 1763 and was enshrined in Canada’s constitution in 1982.

Frontenac Ventures has undertaken a two year, 3.5 million dollar exploration program without the consent of the Ardoch and Shabot communities. Open pit uranium mining could occur if Frontenac determines that exploiting the uranium deposit is economically feasible.

The Ardoch and Shabot First Nations are calling for the end of all mining exploration, staking and drilling by Frontenac.

The environmental consequences of uranium mining include the contamination of ground water with heavy metals and radioactive materials, the dispersal of radioactive dust and the release of radioactive gases into the atmosphere. Once the uranium ore is processed, 85% of the radioactivity remains in the tailings which must then be managed for hundreds of thousands of years.

Local, non-aboriginal opposition to uranium exploration is fierce. Over two hundred local residents gathered with an hour’s notice to drown out the reading of the injunction. Community action groups have been organizing petitions, letter-writing campaigns, and even a tax revolt. People have been bringing food to the blockade on a daily basis since it began on June 28.

For more information, go to the Ardoch website: http://www.aafna.ca/.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Greenpeace report reveals high profile companies buying Boreal Forest destruction

MONTREAL, Aug. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - A Greenpeace investigative report released today reveals the names of many high profile and recognizable international companies fueling the destruction of Canada's Boreal Forest to create everyday consumer products.

Among the 35 companies listed are Best Buy, Grand & Toy, Toys "R" Us, Time Inc., Sears, Coles/Indigo, Penguin Books US and Harlequin. Rona, the Canadian home improvement and hardware store, is also named in the report.

Each company is profiled as a customer of logging and pulp companies Abitibi-Consolidated, Bowater, Kruger and SFK Pulp, whose destructive logging practices are responsible for decimating nearly 200,000 km2 of Boreal Forest, or 3.5 times the size of Nova Scotia. "Today, we're naming names," said Kim Fry, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace. "The logging companies and customers featured in this report are driving the destruction of Canada's Boreal Forest."

The report, Consuming Canada's Boreal Forest: The chain of destruction from logging companies to consumers, calls for action from the international marketplace to protect one of the largest ancient forests left on Earth. It also condemns the governments of Ontario and Quebec, where less than nine and five per cent of the forest, respectively, is protected from industrial development.

"We expect customers of these logging companies to temporarily suspend their multi-million dollar contracts until action is taken on the ground to protect the forest and end destructive logging," added Fry. "We are looking to the marketplace to transform this situation."

In addition to environmental destruction-including forest fragmentation, climate impacts and loss of wildlife habitat and ecosystem biodiversity-the report also highlights Abitibi-Consolidated's refusal to end operations in the traditional territory of Grassy Narrows First Nation, despite a longstanding blockade against logging.

Canada's Boreal Forest stretches across the north of the country, from Newfoundland to the Yukon. It represents a quarter of the world's remaining intact ancient forests and stores 47.5 billion tonnes of carbon in its soils and trees. Less than 15 per cent of the Boreal Forest in Quebec and 18 per cent in Ontario remains intact. More than 68 per cent of the area managed by the three logging companies has already been degraded or destroyed.

The backgrounder can be downloaded at

http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/chainofdestruction/CoD%20backgrounder.pdf

The report can be downloaded at

http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/chainofdestruction/consuming-the-boreal-forest-t.pdf

For further information: Kim Fry, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, (416) 406-0664; Jane Story, Greenpeace Communications, (416) 930-9055

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chit-chat

Jane, white European woman – Thank you for your frank and heartfelt sharing. I speak as a white European woman recovering from familial abuse and entrenched misogyny. I have had to struggle to find new roads on old maps – roads which lead to worthwhile destinations and not pain and self destruction. I am amazed that you are a catholic with the strong misogyny of the male clergy and the euro-centric value system of the present hierarchy. I couldn't deal with the insularity and smug self righteousness of the Christians I met and am no longer a frequenter of any church building. I find a park more holy than any building, but I have had so many miracles that I feel loved by a higher power. I taught children for 25 years but could never decide who was white, coloured or black. They were Carlos or Paul or Catherine.

Victoria, woman African descent – There are two issues I think need addressing. The first is my remaining in the Catholic Church. I, too, left the church at one time because I could not understand the inconsistencies between the teachings and the actions of the teachers. However, as I looked for a spiritual home, I found that the people of God are those who try to do what they feel God is calling them to do. The Spirit blows where S/He wills. The hierarchy of the Church may try to legislate where that is but the Spirit of the Creator is in all of creation, every one, every thing. Therefore, I stay in the Church because (1) that is where the inner-city community that I worship with nourishes my soul; (2) I believe in Jesus Christ and his message; (3) there are a lot of good people in the church as a whole; (4) I can do a lot of good by staying; and, (5) one cannot escape eurocentricity in North America.

The second is in relation to your comment about teaching children. While you may have had the option of not deciding who was "white, coloured or black," the children of colour did not have the same option. Skin colour has definite consequences for those who are not "white" in North American Society. When you deny colour, you deny that person's lived experiences. White people go into stores, no matter whether it is an economy store or one that sells exclusive goods, with no problem. A person of colour goes into the same stores and they are followed, given unwelcoming looks, and made to feel generally uncomfortable. I use this example because it is a mundane, everyday thing – shopping, something one has to do. Imagine the wear and tear on a child's psyche with several of these experiences each week. Then there's school where you learn that your people are "social problems." All positive contributions of your people to society are glaringly absent from the history books. Therefore you never learn that your people have done anything but "burden" society. This is the reality of being "Black, Native American or Hispanic" in Canada and the United States. Thankfully, our peoples are beginning to demand more of a say in education. We are no longer being silenced by the ploy of being called "over-sensitive" because denying our experiences and our pain has been killing us and we wish to heal, to live and to thrive.

Kaaren, Anishinaabe grandmother, – Thank you for this writing. It is really right on. In a book entitled "This Bridge Called my Back," a collection of writings by women of colour, one author says that it is not the duty of the oppressed to educate their oppressors. It amazes me that we people of non-white colour still have to step up to that position if any educating gets done. It will be a great day when white people make these observations publically. It is precisely part of unearned and invisible white privilege that this does not happen. That great day will be here when, as Hugh Vasques says in "The Colour of Fear," white people are "as outraged about racism as I am outraged about racism, as black people are outraged, as Asians are outraged, as Indians are outraged." I will add that, for me, that day will be here when I see or hear white people being outraged just about unearned and invisible privileges.

Algonquin Alliance Statement Against Uranium Exploration and Mining

July 24, 2007 (Source: http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/updates/070724mnn.html)

On June 28, 2007 leadership and members of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation moved to secure the site of a proposed uranium mine in the traditional lands of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation near Ardoch Ontario. Frontenac Ventures Corporation, under the ownership of George White had been notified by mail to vacate the premises prior to the 28th with his equipment and staff. On the 28th members of the two Algonquin communities moved in and secured the site to prevent the drilling of uranium core samples which were slated to begin the following week.

Upon securing the site, the two communities established an alliance whose overall purpose was to prohibit access to the site and any proposed drilling within and around the site and all associated sites by Frontenac Ventures Corporation. The Algonquin alliance discovered through an initial search that multiple users had been granted access to the site and land surrounding the site by the MNR, Mining and Northern Development and private owners. At no time did any of these ministries or private owners contact or secure permission from Algonquin people to use the lands or resources in question. In fact, while Algonquin people in the area had heard rumours of a proposed uranium mine in Frontenac County, we were not aware of the plans to develop a mine on our traditional territory until Gloria Morrison, a private land owner in the region, attended a council meeting and asked for the Ardoch Algonquin council’s help in protecting her property. Gloria came to the meeting because 60 acres of her 100 acre holding had been staked by Frontenac Ventures under the Mining Act. She had exhausted all other alternatives at that point and hoped that Algonquin people could help her as she understood that the land she had purchased was in the historical territory of Algonquin people.

As already mentioned the overall purpose of the Algonquin alliance is to prohibit access to the site and any proposed drilling within and around the site and all associated sites. This includes sites that are privately owned and leased to Frontenac Ventures Corporation as this usage is against the Original Teachings and Guiding Principles which provide the guidance necessary to live within Mino-Pimaadiziwin (which means to live the good life, in a balanced way that promotes the sustainability of the Natural World and all living entities). The alliance is using a four-pronged approach to dealing with uranium exploration and mining which includes education of the larger community on the dangers of uranium exploration and mining and direct action in various locations in Algonquin territory to bring local, national and international attention to the issue. The two Algonquin communities who make up this alliance are also concerned with their responsibility as Anishinaabe people to examine prior usage of the land and resources by all users who have been granted access by the province of Ontario. Part of that strategy is to develop sound mechanisms for restoring balance to the land and waterways that have been impacted by their activities on the land and also create protocols of interaction that can be used with future users so that the same mistakes do not occur again.

The alliance also has to deal with the other users who were granted access to our territory through the province. One such user is MREL. MREL is a company that has moved heavily into the defence and security industry, and in particular the development of a range of vehicle disrupters which are used to neutralize improvised explosive devises and bomb laden vehicles, placed in anything from regular automobiles up to tractor trailer sized trucks. The units are robot deployed and designed to minimize collateral damage. The thrust of their work is humanitarian with an emphasis on saving lives, both by countering the threat of bombs in the civilian community, as well as to improve the defence capability of Canadian troops.

As MREL’s current contract is designed to save lives, and not connected to the drilling of core samples or uranium mining, the alliance has made the decision to permit MREL to enter the site under a memorandum of understanding between MREL and Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations. The memorandum of understanding will cover only the current project related to their research on vehicle disrupters. It will cover the nature of required clean-up from previous MREL work, set out the protocols for relating to the land in a way that promotes balanced relationships with the land and waterscapes, while also enabling MREL to complete the project in the designated timeframe. Any other usage of the site by MREL would have to be renegotiated. The MOU will also address the issue of securing the site while MREL is conducting their research. MREL has also come out openly against George While and Frontenac Ventures Corporation and has provided the alliance with numerous documents, maps, and correspondence that supports our position against uranium mining.

The alliance is also concerned with a new tendency on the part of some individuals to treat this site as a tourist attraction. The articulation of our autonomy here is a serious issue for both Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and for Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation. We have secured the area for the sole purpose of preventing the drilling of core samples which would lead to the development of a uranium mine on our traditional territory. Securing the area means literally keeping everyone out unless they have been invited to enter at the main gate where the encampment is located. This policy is necessary to secure the safety of everyone, inside and outside the gate. The entire parameter has been secured through the use of warriors to prevent access to Frontenac Venture Corporation and no one should enter the site as you could be seen as working for FVC. This encampment and occupation of the surrounding land and watersheds is part of an ongoing resistance on the part of these two First Nations to resist the attempts of Frontenac Ventures Corporation to drill core samples, it should respectfully not be treated as a tourist attraction.

The Algonquin alliance and resistance force is being assisted by CCAMU, Mining Watch, and other environmental and citizenship groups who are opposed to uranium mining. Many of the individuals involved in the various groups have had their own property staked under the Mining Act by Frontenac Ventures Corporation. While Algonquin people are concentrating on direct actions that articulate our autonomy in the valley of the Kiji Sìbì (which is a necessary component in the overall efforts to prevent uranium exploration and mining on our traditional lands), our non-Aboriginal friends and neighbours have renewed ancient relationships with the Algonquin people and communities here and have taken up once again their side of the wampum belt that was neglected long ago by their ancestors. Their efforts to create and disperse important information on the Mining Act and impacts of uranium mining have gone a long way in gaining outside support for our struggle to stop Frontenac in their tracks. Our non-Aboriginal neighbours have also created a network of support for the Algonquin and other Aboriginal communities who remain on the site behind the gate. This network of concerned friends and neighbours have taken it upon themselves to make sure that the people who remain there have the food, supplies, and necessities needed to maintain the occupation until a positive resolution can be achieved. Both Algonquin communities, as well as the other Aboriginal people at the site greatly appreciate the dedication and sacrifices made by everyone who has supported and continues to support our efforts to stop the proposed uranium exploration and mining on Algonquin land and that of our neighbours.

Direct Action
The alliance has taken several direct actions in the past few weeks to draw attention to the issue including two protest marches down Highway 7 in Sharbot Lake. The next direct action will take place on July 28 in Perth. Those wishing to participate in the action should meet at the lot behind Wendys at 3pm. This particular action will take place at two spots on Highway 7. There will be pylons inserted into the middle of the road to slow it down to two lanes. We will be setting up information tolls at each end of Perth on Highway 7. Cars will be allowed to travel but at a much slower pace which will permit us to provide info on the issue and also ask for donations which are needed to sustain the resistance force at the site and to pay for legal fees. We will need volunteers to stand at each end of the highway with picket signs and eight people to work the information toll. We will maintain the information toll from 3pm-6pm. We will continue to plan such actions on Highway Seven moving next to Carleton Place and eastward……eventually reaching Ottawa if necessary.

Legal Strategy
The Algonquin alliance has secured the legal services of Chris Reid, who is an expert on Aboriginal rights and law. Chris is working from the legal standpoint that Algonquin people never surrendered our lands and thus our autonomy and jurisdiction remain intact in the areas in which Frontenac Ventures Corporation has staked and plans to drill core samples. The details of that strategy need to remain confidential, but we will keep you updated on the progress made.

Response from Frontenac Ventures Corporation
Frontenac Ventures Corporation has responded to our protest in a variety of ways, including issuing a statement in the Globe and Mail wherein Frontenac’s CEO George White suggested that perhaps companies in Canada should utilize paramilitary forces such as those used in Africa (if you have seen Blood Diamond you will get the idea) to protect mining interests from people such as ourselves, which he equated with terrorism. In a meeting held last week, White’s lawyer said several nasty things about our Mohawk allies and asked point blank if there were Mohawk warriors on the premises. White also promised swift legal action against us at that meeting and has followed through with that threat as we have been told that he has filed a 77 million dollar law suit against the two Algonquin communities here and their associated leaders. While a security force showed up at several points today trying to serve the notice, no one accepted it and they will now deliver it to our legal team which is being led by Chris Reid out of Toronto.

Fundraising
Given the length of time we will need to maintain the occupation of our lands and the nature of the legal issues, we will need to implement and maintain various fundraising initiatives and activities over the next few months. Frank Morrison, who alerted us to the activities of Frontenac Ventures Corporation, is in the process of organizing a major benefit concert to take place in Carleton Place which will help in that regard, as will the one that is scheduled for Weds in Sharbot Lake. If you are not able to come and stand with us on the ground here please get involved in organizing fundraising activities to support our efforts here and what will be undoubtedly a lengthy and costly legal battle. All funds raised can be dropped off at the gate or mailed to 1045 Canoe Lane Ardoch, ON. Please specify that mailed funds go to fight uranium mining and the efforts of the Algonquin people occupying the site. If you are not able to get involved in the organization of fundraising activities, please consider dropping off or sending in your donation to support this important issue. Uranium exploration and mining will destroy our traditional territory and make it impossible to live off the land or to maintain our responsibilities to the land and waterways. We are doing this for the benefit of your children and grandchildren, so that they will have a future as Algonquin people.

CHI-MIIGWECH!

The Algonquin Alliance of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation & Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation

As Long as the River Flows exerpt from You Tube