MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Algonquin on 'red alert' after order to end blockade

Published by MAC on 2007-08-28

Algonquin on 'red alert' after order to end blockade

Ciara Byrne, The Ottawa Citizen

28th August 2007

An order demanding the Algonquin community quit its blockade at Sharbot Lake immediately has put members on "red alert."

"We're filling this place up," said Paula Sherman, co-chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, who said she's surprised the events have turned sour so quickly. The community now awaits a possible confrontation in what they said they hoped would be a peaceful protest.

Since June, the Ardoch community and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nation have been battling Frontenac Ventures over a proposed uranium mine. The company's plans to drill core samples ended when the First Nations people moved in and blocked the area on June 28.

Last Thursday, Christopher Reid, a lawyer for the Ardoch, said his clients had pulled out of the case, in which Frontenac sought a permanent injunction to remove the blockade.

A judge said the Algonquins should remove all signs and vehicles, but he did not mention removal of the protesters.

Then last night, Mr. Reid received notification from Justice Gordon Thomson of the Ontario Superior court of an interim injunction. The injunction stated that any representative or supporters would have to leave immediately. It also stated that Frontenac would have "unfettered and unobstructed access" to the property.

The OPP had expressed reluctance to get involved. But the injunction gives them authority to arrest and remove any person who contravenes the order.

"This is the result of what happened in the court after we left," said Mr. Reid. "As far as the Ardoch are concerned, there's no change."

Ms. Sherman added: "The bottom line is we won't be leaving here. We will continue to secure this entire area. People have already begun to flood in here when the news went out."

Ms. Sherman said the court was warned the increasingly tense situation could turn ugly.

"We said if this was to transpire and to escalate, hundreds of people would pour into this site and that's exactly what's happening."

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