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