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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 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 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 for more information.)

Photos of the action are available

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