17 October 2007
CPT Canada recalls team from Algonquin blockade
The mediation process will encompass the following discussions:
--whether Frontenac's staked claims and mining lease are legally valid;
--the possibility of withdrawing traditional Algonquin land from staking and a moratorium on mineral exploration and mining;
--addressing on-the-ground concerns about the impacts of uranium drilling.
Frontenac Ventures obtained a license under the Ontario Mining Act to carry out exploratory drilling on sixty square kilometers of unceded Algonquin land. The Algonquins have never surrendered title to lands they have inhabited from time immemorial. The Royal Proclamation Act of 1763 and the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 enshrine Aboriginal title in Canadian law.
Neither FV nor the
An open-pit uranium mine would release toxic radon gas and polonium and leave behind millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings that will permanently pollute groundwater. In its 23 June 2007 Statement on Uranium Mining, the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation asserted, "Uranium mining will lead directly to our social, spiritual, and cultural demise, as our collective identity--requires a continual relationship with the land . . .We do not have the option that FVC has to pack up and leave once their destruction of our lands is complete." (See http://www.aafna.ca/Uranium_mining.html.) . According to the mediation agreement, the Algonquins will allow FV to continue with some exploratory work, but it cannot do any drilling. The court has appointed an independent monitor to verify FV's compliance and has allowed a period of twelve weeks for the mediation.
CPT maintains that this land-use dispute is rooted in the Canadian government's historic neglect of legitimate Algonquin land and national sovereignty claims, and the unconstitutionality of the Ontario Mining Act. (The Mining Act makes no provision for consulting First Nations communities.) A mediation process that addresses the root causes of this conflict is a positive step towards resolving a long-standing injustice.
CPT sent a team to the blockade site on 3 September 2007. CPT conducted two non-violence trainings, attended court proceedings, organized a letter-writing campaign to OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, and maintained a presence at the blockade site. CPT will continue to follow developments related to the dispute closely.