MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Uranium mine protesters use drums, voices to drown out words of injunction

Published by MAC on 2007-08-21

Uranium mine protesters use drums, voices to drown out words of injunction

Order demands blockade be shut down immediately

By Ciara Byrne , Ottawa Citizen

21st August 2007

The banging of drums, cheers and chants of the Algonquin First Nations and their supporters drowned out a sheriff as he read an order Friday demanding they vacate the land at Sharbot Lake immediately.

"We can't let violence fall on our ears and that interim injunction is a very violent document," retired Ardoch First Nations chief Robert Lovelace said.

It was 3 p.m. when legal authorities descended on the area where about 300 Algonquins and their supporters manned a blockade.

"No, no we won't go," they shouted defiantly as the sheriff arrived.

As he read the injunction, he stood face to face with protesters clad in fatigues, bandannas over their faces.

The injunction demands the Algonquin community leave the blockade immediately.

Since June, the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nations have been standing toe-to-toe with Frontenac Ventures over a proposed uranium mine.

The company's plan to drill core samples ended when the First Nations people moved in and blockaded the area on June 28.

Last week, the Ardoch community pulled out of the court case in which Frontenac sought a permanent injunction to remove the blockade.

On Monday night, the community received news that Justice Gordon Thomson had issued an interim injunction ordering the people to leave.

Earlier yesterday, anxiety and anticipation was high as people mingled around the protest area.

Hugh Proudfoot stood eating watermelon. He is one of the many "settler" supporters, the name non-native protesters are adopting.

His property is also adjacent to where Frontenac Ventures wants to drill.

"Right by where their drilling is, immediately through my property, and it would more than likely be contaminated," said Mr. Proudfoot.

He recently visited a real estate agent to find out what effect all this has had on the value of his property. He was advised his land would not be sellable right now because of the threat of mining.

"I'm not paying my taxes," said Earl Recoskie, another area property owner who is demanding the mining company stay out.

He said the potential uranium mine development has reduced the value of his property, too.

Other supporters were there to protest the potential damage to the environment.

"This is about a uranium mine upstream from Ottawa and it stands to compromise the water in the Ottawa River," said Linda Harvey, another supporter of the aboriginal protest, who said a uranium mine would play havoc with the environment.

Yesterday, supporters of the protest brought in boxes of bananas and muffins for the protesters.

"Anyone who's even supporting our position, giving flyers, fundraising, our lawyers, anyone bringing food, water or medicine can be arrested," said Paula Sherman, co-chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. She spoke with the OPP yesterday.

And as children climbed hay bales and danced along to the drums, Ms. Sherman said the police have even told her the Children's Aid Society could be involved if children are there when police remove protesters. "Any support of our position is committing an illegal act, apparently," said Ms. Sherman.

But for the time, yesterday's events were peaceful. People wore neon shirts that read "No Uranium Mining." They chatted; some knitted.

And after the authorities gave the order, many were smiling.

"They looked intimidated," Mr. Proudfoot said of the authorities who were met by the yelling protesters.

"We executed a position here on our side that we would not hear those words, that we would drown them out so that they did not fall on our ears, and that they did not invade the security of that gate," said Doreen Davis, chief of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, after police left.

While the Algonquins and their supporters bide their time, the police are preparing to come in soon.

A pow-wow is scheduled for the weekend, and many people said they did not expect police to disrupt the protest until after the event.

"It's the same old, same old," said Ms. Davis. "We're not going anywhere."

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