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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Struggle Against a Uranium Mine

By Alan Slater

Frank Morrison was cutting his winter wood supply on his northern Frontenac County farm in October of 2006 when he came across stakes and severely damaged trees in his woodlot. This was the first warning that a company called Frontenac Ventures was exploring for uranium in the area. People soon learned that the Ontario government had given Frontenac Ventures permission to stake uranium claims on privately owned land and Crown land that is claimed by Algonquin First Nations people.

On June 28, 2007, the Algonquin people set up a blockade at the main gate to the exploration site. Within a few days, the white settlers in the area had formed the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium,, to support the Algonquin action. These pristine hills and forests of north Frontenac are the head waters of the Mississippi River, which flows into the Ottawa River through Carleton Place, Almonte and Packenham. People from all along the river right down to Ottawa are supporting the blockade.

Several weeks ago Christian Peacemaker Teams sent a team at the blockade. I joined the team for a week on September 16. Tents and trailers are set along the road and just inside the gates of the property. People come when they have days off work to be part of the blockade. When they go back home, they leave their tents and trailers for others to use. A circle of some 20 chairs is drawn up around an open fire in front of the gate. People come and go, bring coffee and snacks, and stop awhile to get news about the latest court actions. Inside the gates, generators provide power to run a kitchen and keep freezers cold. Those freezers are stocked with food donated by hundreds of supporters.

On Saturday, September 22, a flotilla of canoes set off from the Village of Ardoch on Mud Lake to paddle down the Mississippi River to Ottawa. About 100 people gathered in front of a cairn commemorating the efforts of Algonquin Chief Harold Perry's efforts to save the wild rice in Mud Lake from destruction in the 1980s. Algonquin Grand Chief and Grandfather of all Grandfathers William Camanda from Maniwaki Quebec performed some pipe and smudging ceremonies with sweet grass and sage. Two young women, Corrie and Jill, filled two mason jars with clear water from Mud Lake to be presented to the people of Ottawa as a sign of what is threatened by uranium mining. Several Algonquin drummers beat out a travelling song on the big drum. Harold Perry, now a wiry 77-years-old, slid a canoe that he himself had made into the water, leading the way to Ottawa.

We often hear stories from around the world of farmers and indigenous people trying to protect their lands from miners, loggers, and other resource extractors. In Frontenac County I have now experienced that same struggle.

Allan Slater

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK - so lets stop all logging, mining, agriculture and go back to the stone age. NIMBY syndrome is alive and well.