MAC/20: Mines and Communities

First Nations protest over uranium mining continues

Published by MAC on 2007-08-28

First Nations protest over uranium mining continues

Andrew Thomson, CanWest News Service

28th August 2007

CLARENDON STATION, Ont. -- A group of First Nations reaffirmed their vow to remain outside a controversial uranium site north of Sharbot Lake Tuesday, with police keeping their distance one day after a judge ordered an end to the two-month protest.

Justice Gordon Thomson of the Ontario Superior Court has instructed members of the Ardoch and the Sharbot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nations to leave immediately and allow Frontenac Ventures Corp., "unfettered and unobstructed access" to the land near Clarendon Station, 125 kilometres west of Ottawa.

The injunction allows the Ontario Provincial Police to remove protesters and break the blockade. But both sides played a waiting game for much of Tuesday.

Two officers visited the site for nearly two hours to clarify the injunction at a pipe ceremony and talking circle underneath an open tent. Holding an eagle feather, they told the crowd the force had no exact timeline for enforcing the order and needed more time to study the injunction's language.

Once they left in the early afternoon, the nearest police presence was a cruiser about 300 metres north of the blockade.

The relationship between protesters and police has been peaceful and trustworthy, said Robert Lovelace, a former Ardoch Nation co-chief, adding the OPP told him they would advise the group if or when their instructions change.

"People are here to defend their land, not cause a disturbance," Lovelace said at the blockade. "We have no other place in the world to look to our origins, our customs, our way of life."

Residents also worry about the environmental impact of proposed mines on soil and the Mississippi River watershed.

Plans by Frontenac Ventures to drill the land for core samples ended when a blockade was erected on June 28. The company has staked more than 5,000 hectares nearby as part of its "Frontenac Project," and is suing local First Nations for $77-million.

The Ardoch Algonquin repeated their calls for Premier Dalton McGuinty to assign land claim negotiators to the region.

Their supporters outside the gate swelled to a few dozen Tuesday -- mostly supportive local residents wearing fluorescent green T-shirts opposing the uranium venture.

Any protester inciting violence would be asked to leave the blockade, said Mitchell Shewell, another Ardoch Algonquin.

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