Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Caledonia redux

Algonquins to continue uranium site blockade

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | 10:56 AM ET

CBC News

Two First Nations communities plan to continue blocking access to a potential uranium mining site in eastern Ontario despite a judge's order.

"Our plans at the site are to continue to secure the gate and not permit entry into our lands without our permission," Bob Lovelace, former chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said Tuesday. "And certainly the exploration company will not be permitted to do any test drilling."

He was responding to Ontario Superior Court Judge Gordon Thomson's 20-page interim decision, issued quietly last week, that bans entry to the property near Sharbot Lake by anyone except "the owner with the valid registered deed."

The ruling also orders the removal of all "signs, vehicles, buildings and other paraphernalia" erected at the site by either the Algonquins or the mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures since July 1, 2007, the Kingston Whig-Standard reported.

However, it allows for a qualified archeologist to search the property for sacred indigenous burial sites.

Protesters from the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nations have been blocking the entrance to the site, about 60 kilometres north of Kingston, since June.

The mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corp., which wants to do some test drilling for uranium, is suing the Algonquins for $77 million and seeking a judicial order to remove First Nations protesters from the site.

The interim decision came the same week the Algonquins sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty announcing that they were pulling out of the court process and asking the Ontario government to intervene in the dispute.

The Algonquins say they are concerned that uranium mining would contaminate water and cause other environmental damage on property that comprises ancestral lands they never properly surrendered.

Lawyers for the various parties are to discuss the order in court on Thursday.

A decision on the requested injunction, which would grant Frontenac Ventures full access to the site, is to be made in September.

The site includes privately owned property, but is mainly land that Ontario considers to be owned by the Crown. The Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation is in land-claim negotiations with the federal and provincial governments.

With files from the Canadian Press

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