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Call to Action: First Nations leaders imprisoned

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  1. OCAP Statement in Support of KI and AAFN First Nations.
  2. How to write letters to imprisoned indigenous leaders.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty stands in full support of and in solidarity with the jailed indigenous leaders who have been imprisoned for fighting to protect their lands, and we call for the immediate reversal of the politically motivated sentences recently imposed on the six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, as well as Bob Lovelace, co-chief of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation.

OCAP decries the unacceptable fact that, over the past month, the colonial courts of this province have convicted and imprisoned seven First Nations people for trying to protect their lands.

In mid-March, six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation were sentenced to six months in jail, for refusing to comply with an injunction allowing Platinex, an exploration company, to start drilling on traditional indigenous territory.

In 1929, KI First Nation leaders signed Treaty 9, to protect their ability to hunt, fish and trap, and to prevent the encroachment of early miners and loggers.

In the winter of 2005-06, Platinex, a mining-exploration company, tried to drill on land for which it had staked a claim pursuant to Ontario’s mining laws but which is also subject to Treaty 9.

KI First Nation members prevented the drilling from proceeding. The company sued for damages and sought an injunction to prevent further protests. The end result of KIFN asserting their treaty rights is that their leadership has been jailed and a $10 billion lawsuit has been laid against the community.

Similarly, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation Co-Chief Robert Lovelace has now served over a month of his 6-month prison sentence for his role in AAFN’s efforts to resist claims staked by Frontenac Ventures Corporation to mine uranium on unceded traditional territories of the Ardoch Algonquin and First Nations.

Neither the company nor the governments consulted with the Algonquins, despite the fact that the staked land is part of a Comprehensive Land Claim that is under ongoing negotiation with Ontario and Canada. Bob Lovelace was also fined $25,000.

In addition, the community was fined $10,000 and Chief Paula Sherman $15,000. Leaders of the neighbouring Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation and non-Aboriginal supporters of the AAFN have also been in court and a $77 million dollar lawsuit has been laid against their community.

In January 2009, Shawn Brant, spokesperson from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, faces a lengthy jury trial for charges stemming from blockades which took place in 2007, actions taken up to reclaim a quarry operation and part of the struggle for the return of the Culbertson Tract, land which the federal government has acknowledged belongs to the Mohawks.

He faces a potential 12 years in prison. These charges are also accompanied by a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by the corporate interests of CN Rail.

OCAP condemns the fact that politicians at both the provincial and federal level, as well as judges, prosecutors, and police, have been sending a vicious and clear message that criminalization of indigenous resistance is the order of the day.

Even the basic ‘duty to consult’ imposed on government before they authorize actions that might infringe on indigenous constitutional rights, enshrined in Section 35 of the Canadian constitution and Supreme Court of Canada rulings since 1990, is being ignored.

Given the poverty and lack of basic access to decent housing, clean water, education, and health care endemic to reserve communities in this province and country, we find the laying of massive financial punishment against indigenous people who are fighting back to be abhorrent and completely outrageous.

Finally, we denounce the trend of responding to blockades and actions taken up by indigenous communities who are protecting their traditional territories with criminalization and repression.

In light of the ineffective land claim process, the lack of will on the part of provincial or federal governments to resolve claims issues, the ability of corporations to act under the auspices of Ontario’s outdated Mining Act, provisions of which directly violate repeated findings of the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to First Nations treaty-rights and land-claims, and given the right of First Nations communities to sovereignty and self-determination, the racist colonialist response of government is unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue.

OCAP calls on the Ontario government to drop all charges and fines against Bob Lovelace and the AAFN, and to drop all charges against the KI Six. We demand that the Ontario government respond to the clearly stated demands of both communities.

We demand that all corporate plunder, mining and exploration activities on the traditional territories of AAFN and KI cease immediately.

  • The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty March 2008

HOW TO WRITE LETTERS TO IMPRISONED INDIGENOUS LEADERS:

(Message from Susan DesLile, AAFN Fundraising Co-ordinator (Kingston)

These are the 6 members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation(KIFN) who have just begun serving 6 months in jail for contempt for their role in opposing mining in their territory.

Their willingness to go the prison for their beliefs are in solidarity with Bob Lovelace of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN) who has similarly gone to jail for 6 months in contempt for his role in blocking access to a potential Uranium mining site in the Ardoch Algonquin unceded traditional territory.

Here are the names and addresses where you can send letters of solidarity and encouragement:

Men:

Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, Councillor Samuel McKay Councillor Darryl Sainnawap Bruce Sakakeep

C/O Thunder Bay Correctional Centre Highway 61 South PO Box 1900 Thunder Bay ONP7C 4Y4

Woman:

Head Councillor Cecilia Begg, C/O Kenora Jail 1430 River St.Kenora, Ont. P9N 1K5

Bob Lovelace C/O Central East Correctional Centre 541 Hwy 36 Lindsay, Ontario K9V 4S6

In solidarity,Susan Susan DeLisle, AAFN Fundraising Co-ordinator (Kingston) 613-483-6608

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