THUNDER BAY, ON, March 17 /CNW/ - Anishinabek Nation leadership are
demonstrating their support for a Treaty 9 community whose chief was prepared
to go to jail for refusing to allow a mining company to conduct exploration
activity on traditional territory.
Deputy Grand Chief Glen Hare represented the 42 member communities of the
Anishinabek Nation at the Ontario Superior Court building today where
Judge Patrick Smith sentenced Chief Donny Morris of Kitchenuhmaykoosib
Inninuwug and six council members to six months in prison for contempt of
court. The councillors of the fly-in First Nation about 600 km north of
Thunder Bay defied an Oct. 25 court order granting Platinex Inc. access to
Big Trout Lake, which the First Nation claim as ancestral land.
"In one breath we hear Ontario talk about the importance of First Nations
sharing in the wealth of the province's resource revenues, and in the next
breath they ignore Supreme Court of Canada rulings that say we need to be
consulted by companies wanting to exploit our lands," said Deputy Grand Chief
Hare. "Meaningful consultation involves mutual respect, not telling
First Nations where you're going to drill for ore or clear-cut forests. That's
not how good neighbours behave."
Despite several recent Supreme Court rulings requiring consultations with
First Nations prior to making decisions affecting their lands, the Ontario
government has allowed the Toronto-based junior mining company to stake claims
and begin exploratory drilling for platinum. When First Nation members
peacefully protested their activities, Platinex retaliated with a $10-billion
lawsuit, subsequently reduced to $10 million.
Chief Morris says $500,000 in legal fees defending the suit have
bankrupted his community, and he and his council accepted Justice Smith's Oct.
25 ruling that found them in contempt for continuing to deny Platinex workers
access to the exploration site.
"The province of Ontario needs to develop policies that support
partnerships involving First Nations in harvesting natural resources," said
Deputy Grand Chief Hare. "We won't tolerate our citizens being punished for
defending our traditional territories."
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member
First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest
political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the
Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
For further information:
For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of
Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (Ext. 2290), Email: