For years, pastoralists have grazed animals in the vast, hilly and dry land of Pokot, Turkana and Marakwet districts, oblivious of what lies beneath the soil.
The harsh climate has hampered agricultural activities, but the districts are endowed with minerals that could improve locals’ lives.
Most locals are poor, livestock being their only source of livelihood.
Mrs Kitien Madareng crushes stones near river Kainuk.
And now, they are waking up to the reality that their lives can be better if they make use of the minerals.
"We have formed groups that mine gold in Tapoyo, Wakor, Kapchepochot, Segem, Chekauru and Sostin," says Mr Nguriareng Mukitome, 63.
Mukitome says poverty has driven locals to start mining gold and fluorspar.
But lack of equipment and market for the minerals has affected their efforts.
"For the years I have mined, I have hit small portions of gold. But soon things will change for the better," says Mukitome.
The villagers risk while mining as most work without protective clothes.
Some of the mines in Wakor are more than 60 feet deep, with tunnels that pose a risk to the prospectors.
At least three miners in Wakor area have died as a result.
But this has not stopped many from working further. They are out to make money and the risk does not appear to occupy their minds.
Miners also have to contend with boulders.
The situation has been worsened by poor infrastructure, leading to rampant cattle rustling and proliferation of arms.
A variety of mineral deposits have been confirmed through series of reconnaissance geological surveys and investigations by various organisations.
Despite having minerals such as limestone, Talc, gypsum, chrome ore, fluorspar, marble, diatomite, kaolin, graphite, asbestos, kyanite and sillimante at their disposal, locals still languish in poverty.
Geologists at the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) have undertaken studies geared towards development of viable mineral resource deposits.
"The objective of the study is to facilitate promotion of rural industrialisation, development of mining skills and creation of employment," says KVDA geologist, Mr Wilson Kipkuto.
Kipkuto says the metamorphic rocks are associated with industrial minerals and base metals.
Below: Mr Simon Madagwang emerges from a mine.
Picture by Peter Ochieng
Among the minerals identified in viable quantities are marble (limestone) for cement in Ortum-Sebit area of West Pokot, marble for decoration in Koitilial area, Marakwet, talc for paper and paints, found in Soka, West Pokot, kaolin, used as a cement additive and for ceramics, in Kamatira, West Pokot and gypsum, also a cement additive found in Loperot, Turkana.
There is also chrome ore, used in factories. It is largely found in Telot, West Pokot.
Kipkuton explains that the marble deposit in Marakwet is of pink variety and is suitable for ornamental stone and decorative facing of buildings.
"The marble occurs in a variety of colours, ranging from pure white to a very intense pink to pink-red, with a wide range of intermediate shades, all of which have an attractive appearance on polishing," he says.
He explains that the other type of marble is found in Ortum and Sebit in West Pokot and is suitable for the manufacture of cement.
"The marble deposit is of white variety suitable for ornamental stone and cement manufacture. Chemical testing indicates moderate magnesia (2-3%MgO) suitable for cement manufacture," says Kipkuton.
He says the five main deposits for the limestone are at Chepchoi, Sebit, Ortum, Morun and Tang River in West Pokot District.
"Physical testing indicates a hard, strong and even-grained granular texture. The areas have massive deposits, some as deep as 100m," he explains.
Kipkuton says the regional authority has conducted extensive drilling and chemical testing as part of the west Kenya cement factory project and established that the deposits can sustain a cement plant.
KVDA is looking for private investors to develop the deposit and produce marble tiles for decoration.
"Together with various additive minerals in the vicinity, which include Kaolin, clay and laterite, the deposits can sustain a 300,000 tonnes a year cement factory," says Kipkuton.
He says talc is hydrated magnesium silicate mineral that is soft and bright white when pure.
It readily absorbs ink, water and oils and is useful as filler in the paint and paper industries.
Talc occurs as a secondary mineral resulting from the alteration of other magnesium minerals, serpentine, pyroxene and tremolite.
Kipkuton says exploiting of the minerals would lead to alleviation of poverty.
Thank you very much for your contribution on “the titanium issue”- which I hope you can see, is about more than just a controversial mining-project at the coast of Kenya…
Join Development and Peace, MPs from several parties, and the Carleton University Just Youth as we call on the government to respond to the report and to implement the recommendations immediately and fully.
...almost 400 days later, we’re still waiting for the government to respond to the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility that recommended measures to improve the CSR performance of Canadian extractive companies.
Where: Parliament Hill – Central Block, between the steps and the eternal flame When: May 13, 12:00
Michael Casey, Executive Director, Development & Peace Jethro C. Tulin, CEO, Akali Tange Association Inc., Papua New Guinea Viviane Barbot, BQ Steve Blaney, PC Pierre Paquette, BQ Bernard Patry, Lib Alexa McDonough, NDP ...and a street theatre performanceby the Just Youth group.
Development and Peace, the international development agency of the Canadian Catholic church, is calling on the government to fully implement the recommendations of the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility, including the immediate establishment of an ombudsperson’s office to investigate complaints about Canadian mining companies’ overseas operations. “Implementation of the recommendations from this process will place Canada among the most active G8 countries in advancing international guidelines and principles on corporate social responsibility in this sector.” -Prime Minister Harper at the June 2007 G8 meeting
CNCA (Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability): Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: 647 388-1053 May 21, 2008
First Nation Communities Put Queen's Park on Notice Before National Day of Action: Four days of peaceful ceremonies to be held on Legislative grounds
Kitchenumaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), Ardoch Algonquin, and Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) First Nations today released a letter directed to the Honourable Steve Peters, Speaker of the House in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario notifying him that the communities and their supporters will conduct traditional ceremonies on the front lawn of the Legislature from May 26 to May 29. May 29 has been called as a National Aboriginal Day of Action for communities across Canada.
In a public invitation to other First Nations and supporters the communities explain that in conducting these ceremonies they are "upholding our duty to protect the land, forest, water, and air and promoting respect for our Indigenous rights to say no to economic exploitation and environmental destruction."
The letter additionally describes the May ceremonies as a way to "honour our brothers and sisters who are currently in Ontario's jails for peacefully acting to protect mother earth, especially Robert Lovelace and the KI 6 [Donny Morris, Sam McKay, Jack McKay, Cecilia Begg, Darryl Sainnawap, Bruce Sakakeep]."
In the letter the communities state "[w]e trust that you will respect our rights and not interfere with our peaceful, ceremonial presence." Hundreds of First Nations and their supporters are expected to camp on the front lawn of the Legislature for the four days of traditional ceremonies including sunrise ceremonies, traditional drumming and singing, and the lighting of a sacred fire by Elders. The speaker of the house directs Queen's Park Security, the force immediately responsible for security on the Legislative grounds.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples formally recognizes the right to give or withhold consent for industrial projects on traditional lands. The three communities have declared moratoria on industrial activity occurring without their consent, but so far the Province has refused to respect them and continues to issue industrial permits for projects that the communities assert are damaging to the health, culture, and future of their people.
To speak to First Nations representatives please call:
Jack Lapointe, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation: 613-273-3530 Joseph Fobister, Grassy Narrows: 807-925-2071, 807-925-2745 Susan Nanokeesic, Kithenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug: 807-537-2263
EVENT: Gathering of Mother Earth Protectors/Sovereignty Sleepover/RALLY at Queen’s Park in Toronto from May 26th to the 29th.
BUSING: On the 26th there is a big rally from 5pm until DUSK. We will have a bus (free of charge) leaving Kingston in an effort to arrive in TO around 3 pm for some preliminary training and information before the Rally. This means we should be leaving around 11 am on the morning of the 26th. After DUSK, a bus will return to Kingston for those who would like to go for only the one day. However, all those who wish to remain for the Sovereignty sleepover are free to do so. A bus will again come from Kingston on the 29th and will deliver us home at the end of the 4-day event. Individuals need to bring a tent/sleeping bag and a bit of food. As AAFNA supporters some food will be provided.
If there is enough interest locally, there will be a bus leaving from the Perth/Sharbot Lake area but we must have enough people to make this worthwhile.
ANYONE WISHING TO HAVE A SEAT ON THE BUS PLEASE CONTACT ME ASAP at email@example.com or 613-483-6608.
EVENT UPDATE: GATHERING OF MOTHER EARTH PROTECTORS QUEEN'S PARK RALLY
Rally to be held at Queen's Park in support of Bob Lovelace and KI Six
WHAT: Indigenous communities (KI, Ardoch Algonquins and Grassy Narrows) joined by a broad network of student, religious, social justice, union, and environmental groups will be calling on Premier McGuinty to respect the right of First Nation communities to say NO to mining and forestry on their lands.
This rally represents an unprecedented coming together of natives and non-natives around economic exploitation and environmental destruction of First Nation traditional territories.
WHO: Thomas King, celebrated author and Cathy Jones of CBC Television's This Hour has 22 Minutes will be the Masters of Ceremony.
Speakers, musicians and other special guests to be announced.
WHERE: Queen's Park
WHEN: Monday, May 26, 5pm till dusk
May 27th - Ongoing rally at Queen's Park
May 28th - Appeal of the Bob Lovelace/AAFN and KI council sentences (6 months incarceration and in Bob's case, fines)
May 29th - Aboriginal Day of Action
The rally is co-sponsored by Canadian Federation of Students, CAIA, Canadian Labour Congress, CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University, CPAWS Wildlands League, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Defence for Children International, ForestEthics, Mining Watch Canada, No One is Illegal Toronto, NOW Magazine, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, OPSEU, and Rainforest Action Network.
For further information: To pre-arrange interviews with communities or celebrities please contact:
Anna Baggio, (416) 971-9453 x 47, (416) 453-3285, firstname.lastname@example.org;
To speak to the KI Six or Bob Lovelace in jail please contact: Chris Reid, lawyer for KI and Ardoch Algonquins at (416) 466-9928
The poor shall inherit the earth, including its natural resources.
I am writing this letter to you from the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario. I have been imprisoned here during the last three months for contempt of court because I said I cannot obey an injunction which conflicts with my duty under Algonquin law to protect our land.
I am writing because I believe you are honest men and women who work in the best interests of your constituents and for the betterment of Ontario. Is it to your intelligence and compassion that this letter is addressed. What I write may shock and anger you. It will certainly cause embarrassment. My hope is that what you read here will engender in you the same commitment to justice that I have felt within these prison walls and throughout my life.
On February 15th of this year, I was sentenced to six months in prison and fined $25,000. Co-Chief Paula Sherman was also fined $15,000. She is a single mother and a grandmother and the sole supporter for three dependents. She cannot and will not pay the fine and will have to report to jail on May 15 to serve a 90 day prison sentence. Our offence was declaring our intention to peacefully protect our homeland after 30,000 acres had been staked for uranium exploration. The staking had been done without our knowledge or consent and the claims were registered by Ontario’s Ministry of Mines without notification. Extensive deep core drilling was planned for last summer without consultation or accommodation.
In June of last year, the Council of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation requested the exploration company remove their personnel and equipment. When they complied, we secured the area with the help of our non-Algonquin neighbours. In July, the company, Frontenac Ventures Corporation, sued us for $77 million, and in August obtained an injunction ordering unfettered access to our lands. Since their still had not been any consultation, as required by Supreme Court decisions, we refused to remove the security barrier, and found ourselves convicted of “contempt” by your court.
Although the context behind my imprisonment is useful, this letter is not about mining or the out-dated Ontario Mining Act. There is already much public discussion now going on about toxic mining and the need to protect citizens’ rights. This letter as well is not about Aboriginal rights or the protection of our homeland, although our Indigenous rights and responsibilities contribute to the discourse. This letter is a case against colonialism, the dysfunctional heritage that we share; the colonialism that informs every aspect of our current relationship and will undo our security and undermine the future for all citizens in this province. Democracy and colonialism can not walk hand-in-hand for long before the disparity in justice, economic opportunities and morality so sickens human spirits that we will all live without hope of becoming the nations we wish to be.
For many years in my intellectual life I tried to understand why, as Indigenous people, we were destined to suffer under the oppression of colonialism. I wanted to know if some natural law at the beginning of time had proclaimed it so, or if it were an accident of conditioning, or if it were essential to social order that made such suffering a necessity. I believed that if I could only know how it had come to be then I would be satisfied with the justification, or understand how you fix the mechanics.
As the years have carved away my curiosity, I have at last concluded that it does not matter how colonialism came to be or who is at fault. I do not care if I ever know how colonialism took root in this world. Now, I just want to be free of it. I want to know that succeeding generations of First Nations children will not be looked upon as inferior, that their birthright and home will not be stolen, that they will have the advantage of dreaming their own dreams and following their own visions. And as much as I want my own children to be free, I want your children not to suffer the moral uncertainty that comes with living well because others are oppressed.
You are legislators. You have the responsibility for writing the laws and policies that frame colonialism and give it social and political structure in Ontario. Unwriting colonialism is not a political process. One party or coalition can not do it alone. Ending legal colonialism is not for partisans. It requires a consensus among law makers who regard justice and humanity above competition for popularity. Those of you who will work for just change will believe in the rightness of your laws as strongly as I believe in the rightness of Algonquin law. When you decide to erase colonialism from your laws you will be risking your future as much as I have risked mine. They are your laws that embody colonial oppression of Aboriginal people and although we can offer guidance, it will be you as legislators who will choose to be, or choose not to be, the burden of innocent generations of come.
The present and accepted course of de-colonization has failed. It has failed both in letter and in spirit. We are living an illusion that Canada and the Provinces no longer oppress First Nations. Nothing in this lie could be further from the truth. If it was so, when did this reversal take place? Was it with Confederation? No - Confederation marked the transition from an ambivalent British Crown to a purposeful extermination of everything Indian. Was it during the Canadian centre of repressive laws that alienated Aboriginal people from their lands and customs? No. Did revisions of the federal Indian Act reverse the national strategy of “taking the Indian out of the Indian child” or save thousands of Indian children from the “sixties scoop”? No.
Have decisions of the Supreme Course recognized original jurisdiction or simply redefined domination in more tolerable terms? Did the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People and hundreds of other studies inform the Nation and change public attitudes? No. Did patriating the Constitution in 1982 succeed in defining the rights and jurisdiction of Aboriginal Nations as it did for the Federal and Provincial governments? No! Please, honestly, ask yourselves, when such a historical turn around occurred and when substantial changes in legislation were written which would have allowed the transition to take place.
Freedom does not come in increments. Colonialism will not give way through wishful thinking or half-measures. In the past, politicians, clergy and intellectuals argued that Aboriginal people were not ready for “civilization” and needed the guiding hand of the colonizer. This ideology is nothing more than self-serving paternalism. Freedom is not something that Aboriginal people should have to earn. If freedom were to be bought, then we have paid for it a thousand fold. Freedom comes when the gate is opened wide or broken down. If there is anyone who has not been ready for Aboriginal people to take their rightful place in Canada, it is you, the colonizer. Until you actively and explicitly make colonialism illegal then it will always be you who are not ready.
The forces that guard colonialism are large. The federal and provincial governments employ hundreds of lawyers, bureaucrats and academics to discredit Aboriginal claims and put Aboriginal people in their place. They work on land claims, court cases and public policy in an effort to limit the Crown’s obligations and liability to Aboriginal people. When have Ontario lawyers defended an Aboriginal right or vigorously advanced Aboriginal claims? They just don’t do that.
Colonialism will remain firmly entrenched as long as we work in an adversarial system in which communities that have been undermined socially, economically and politically for over two centuries must play by their opponents’ rules on a field with a precipitous incline. I have watched as a generation of great minds have been squandered on both sides of this rivalry because intransigent bureaucrats and partisan politicians have been afraid to let “the thin edge of the wedge” change public policy and institutionalize just treatment of Aboriginal citizens. It is not for want of informed and competent negotiators that Canada and Ontario have a slew of unsettled claims and associated conflicts; rather it is the law makers’ lack of political will, fairness and honesty in putting an end to the immoral advantage of colonialism.
Let me give you a clear and recent example of how Aboriginal people experience negotiations. In October of last year, Judge Cunningham of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, who presides in the suit brought by Frontenac Ventures against my community, suspended the hearing for twelve weeks in an effort to get all the parties talking. Ontario, Frontenac Ventures and the two First Nations agreed to a prioritized list of issues and to jointly choose a mediator. At that point, we removed our security barrier and permitted Frontenac Ventures to carry out unobtrusive survey work.
When the discussions began, the corporation did not attend or send a representative. Instead they installed security guards at the site.
Ontario’s representatives consistently refused to discuss the issues outlined in the predetermined agenda which included as the first item, Ontario’s legal responsibility to consult with First Nations communities before development of a resource begins. Ontario negotiators rejected out of hand three comprehensive settlement proposals put forward by Ardoch. Ontario negotiators demanded that we inventory our “values” for the staked land, but refused to accept the description of these “values” when expressed in cultural context or with their meanings in Anishnabemowin, our language.
When it was apparent that time was running out in the 12 week process, the lead Ontario negotiator, who had been a former Deputy Minister of Northern Development and Mines, conceded that Ontario’s duty to consult should be met. He agreed with Ardoch that a broad range of possible outcomes should be considered. He also agreed that the consultation process could conclude with an end to uranium exploration. Ardoch had favoured such an open consultation from the beginning of negotiations. Having arrived at an agreement that a plan of “appropriate consultation” would be submitted to Judge Cunningham we proceeded to discuss the framework for the consultation process.
A week later, after substantial collaboration on the framework, Ontario’s lead negotiator advised us that there had never been an intention to halt exploration and that exploratory drilling would be taking place during the proposed consultation process. We could either agree or face the court and charges of contempt.
This experience seems to be universal across the country. It has not changed much since the starvation tactics used by Sir John A. Macdonald in negotiating the early numbered treaties. While Aboriginal people cling to the hope that the Crown administrators will be merciful and accept some limited fashion of constitutionally protected rights, bureaucrats and their Ministerial masters do everything in their power to extinguish those rights and uphold the colonial state.
Legislators and governments are not solely responsible for maintaining the immoral practice of colonialism. Even the Supreme Court of Canada, often praised for its progressive decisions on Aboriginal rights, is a principle defender of the sovereign privilege of domination. Supreme Court decisions, while recognizing the historical and legal validity of Aboriginal rights, limit the scope and practice of those rights in favour of “larger” Canadian interests. An analogy of the dilemma is listening to the stories of an abused child in an Indian residential school, patting her on the head and then telling her not to disobey the priest. Such is the sanctimonious hypocrisy of your highest court. These same courts permit Canada’s governments to ponder for years on the policy implications reflecting these half-hearted concessions, rendering the entire legal process of protecting Aboriginal rights an exercise in “too little, too late”.
Ontario has been consistently guilty of regarding Aboriginal rights as an inconvenient demand on the moral character of a tolerant society. But Aboriginal rights are your laws, not ours. They originate in English law as the doctrine of “continuity” and find substance in such documents as the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Section 35 rights in the Canadian Constitution are an attempt to address the fundamental denial of the existing laws of Aboriginal Nations and to bring into sovereign Canada a sense of Aboriginal belonging. But we have had our own laws and governance and the Crown, through the doctrine of “continuity” has never had the right to overrule them.
Our laws do not involve a concept of “rights”. In our cultures, mutual respect and benefit are understood as imperatives for survival. Aboriginal cultures regard law as a complex set of responsibilities to the land and in human relations. The emphasis is on protecting sustainability and avoiding conflict. When Europeans first came to settle in the Ottawa valley in 1800, this is what our ancestors asked of them: to share the land and get along. Through 150 years of French and 100 years of English contact, the doctrine of “continuity” was practiced. We must be clear that recent constitutional commitments in section 35 to “recognize and affirm” Aboriginal and treaty rights are Canadian law. Our leaders at the time asked for much more.
The disparity between your laws and ours’ represents the gap between lip service and Aboriginal peoples’ ambition to restore our homelands and cultures. Without a sense of moral clarity and comprehensive entitlements, section 35 of your Constitution is almost meaningless. It gives you as legislators no standard or instruction upon which to write anti-colonial legislation. As such, it gives Canadian courts nothing with which to reconcile the past and even less with which to arbitrate the future. Courts will continue to define Aboriginal rights as subservient and Aboriginal title as third class.
As a colonized people we must accept a share of the responsibility for our condition. Like you, we have internalized colonialism. We have allowed it to inform the way we see the world and ourselves. Too often we have turned to the colonizing governments for support. Too often we expect you to solve out problems or blame you for our inadequacies. Too often we are satisfied with handouts rather than partnerships or ownership. We have come to accept colonial labels such as “status” and “non-status” as definitions of who we are. We let these labels divide our families and communities.
Our leaders have accepted foreign forms of governance which undermine our unity and foster corruption. We have come to accept that blood quantum, shades of skin colour and even levels of education determine our Indianess. Far too often we have given up, given in to self-hate, self-abuse and the abuse of others. Like you, we have to confront colonialism on our own terms, for it is just as immoral to accept victimization as it is to benefit from oppression.
Ontario’s education system is a primary instrument in ensuring that colonialism remains unchallenged. Many Ontarians know nothing of how generations of Aboriginal children were victimized by church and state. Ontarians posses only a vague understanding of how land was overrun by settlement in the 19th century and Aboriginal people were forced to sign unconscionable treaties and land sales in return for modest protection. As far as understanding the evolution of colonial laws, almost all citizens are ignorant.
Even the real suffering of their own immigrant ancestors as slaves, indentured servants, child labour and cannon fodder have been sanitized for the popular glorification of Ontario’s history. Many of these immigrants were escaping colonialism in their own homelands, just as refugees today come to Canada to find a better life. But they acquire no real history about themselves and at best only an “honourable mention” of Aboriginal realities. Without an honest and fully informed education system, your job of challenging and changing colonial laws is as difficult as our in changing the attitudes of ignorant neighbours.
Almost all of you have either publicly or privately condemned the Aboriginal people who protest and obstruct economic and civic activity. At best you have expressed complacent tolerance and an admission that Aboriginal dissatisfaction may have some merit. Ontario’s civility rests on its affluence, not on its moral intelligence or character. It is this artificial civility that Aboriginal protestors challenge. Each time a road is blocked, exploration for minerals is halted, or forestry is interrupted, Aboriginal activists are raising the prickly question of Ontario’s morality.
Each time a protest forces a political “spin” to be re-spun, law makers are confronted with the ineptitude of their own professional history. You may not like the politics of confrontation but I would rather see Shawn Brant block the 401 than Ovide Mercredi begging at the gates of Meech Lake, or Phil Fontaine writing Steven Harper’s apology for the abuse of residential schools.
The affluence of Ontario has been acquired from the sacrifice of our ancestors’ health and the wealth of our homelands. If immobilizing the power of that affluence is the only way to expose the evil of colonization then you need to brace yourselves. Aboriginal people and our thoughtful neighbours are sick and tired of colonialism. People of all races who hunger for justice, who understand the sacredness of creation and the folly of greed will find expression in tearing down colonialism. Aboriginal protests are not so much about past grievances. They are about the effects of present dispossession. Aboriginal activism is about changing the course of the future.
During the last week of May, Aboriginal people across Canada will be preparing for the National Day of Action on May 29th. Many people will come to Queen’s Park. They are coming to talk to you. Throughout that week you will have the opportunity to listen to Aboriginal people and their friends express their fears and aspirations for the future. You will also hear their complaints. If you are wise you will listen. If you are as courageous as they are, you will allow what you hear to inspire your actions. If you are thankful for the Creator’s gift of life, you will extend your hands in peace and friendship. It is up to you if you choose a partnership with Aboriginal Nations to begin the arduous task of rewriting Ontario’s laws to exclude colonial principles. But if you choose to do nothing, or to condemn us, then please do not make excuses or false promises.
In the days leading up to May 29th, the media will extol the Canadian virtue of tolerance. In the days following, the media will sensationalize the “criminality” of Aboriginal defiance. You will see large pictures of masked warriors but little honest context. As you look with trepidation into the masked faces remember that those of us who wear no masks have been faceless as well, all of our lives. The real news will be in the conversations that you will have in the midst of demonstrations and at the edge of the barricades.
As much as I would like to be with you and my brothers and sisters at Queen’s Park at the end of May, I will be here in prison. Throughout my life, I have advocated the path of non-violence as the only means of restoring our cultural integrity and our belonging within creation.
Freedom, at last, is a state of spirit. Even within the walls of this cell, my spirit can heal and grow and under the burden of oppression, all of our spirits can rise up. My spirit, like a seed, can wait throughout the long winter and come to life again when there is room to grow. Non-violence does not mean timidity. Those of us who have chosen a life of non-violence vigorously fight against the oppression and injustice that is sustained by violence. Colonialism, the laws that uphold it, the police actions that take down barricades and disrupt peaceful protests, are violence. Freedom flows around violence like water in a stream flows around a fallen log. Freedom is beautiful like the colours of the earth. Violence is ugly. My spirit will be with all of you at the end of May in peace and friendship.
My immediate thoughts are with my community and the threat of extensive deep core drilling. There is also the humiliation that Ontario is unwilling to allow our community into the decision-making process before further encroachment occurs. And there is the constant anxiety of what an open pit uranium mine will do to our land, our health and the health of our neighbours down stream. My heart aches in the memories of fishing along that river; the blueberry picking on the ridges and the winter solitudes of Arty’s trapline. For two hundred years, colonists have been taking out land. I wonder every day when it will stop.
Because I do not have that answer I will begin a fast on May 16 and I will fast until I have an answer. I will not be fasting as a political statement or to extricate some concession from Ontario. In our culture we fast to purify our bodies and free our spirits. We fast in anticipation of a vision of things to come and to prepare ourselves to accept a great challenge. If my fast over the next few weeks brings attention to the defense of our community I will welcome the growing interest. I will also be praying hard for the protection of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and all of the communities struggling to survive. If in some small way my fast contributes to the non-violent struggle against Canadian colonialism, then all the better. I have no expectation of the Premier or his Ministers. The gun is to our head not his. I will pray that their hearts and minds become clear and that we will meet soon to work together to find solutions to the mess we are in.
When I began this letter I wrote that you might be shocked, angered and certainly embarrassed. If reading my thoughts made you uncomfortable, I am not sorry. It was my intent to shake you out of your complacency and indifference. Aboriginal people do not want your platitudes. We want change. We want an end to colonialism. We want legislation that protects our rights and recognizes our original jurisdiction. What you did yesterday in the name of justice for Aboriginal people is not enough. No matter what happens now, we will walk tomorrow’s road together; you must ask yourself how you have that journey to be.
In the spirit of Peace and Friendship, mutual respect and benefit, I wish you to be well in your work, your play and your dreams.
Migwetch, Robert Lovelace Retired Chief Ardoch Algonquin First Nation
Platinex Commences Lawsuit Against Ontario Government
TORONTO, May 22 /CNW/ - Platinex Inc. (TSX Venture: PTX) today announced that it had commenced a lawsuit against the Government of Ontario claiming $50 million of general damages, $20 million of special damages, plus interest and costs. The lawsuit arises out of its mining claims in the Big Trout Lake area. Platinex has been unable to gain access to its mining claims because of actions by Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug ("KI").
Platinex claims that Ontario failed to discharge its obligation to consult KI and that it breached its duty to warn Platinex that it would not enforce the rule of law around the Platinex mining claims. Platinex has suffered substantial wasted expenditures and economic harm as a result of not being able to access its mining claims.
James Trusler, President and CEO of Platinex, stated, "We felt we had no choice but to file this lawsuit. Our exhaustive efforts in consultation with KI over nine years have been rejected by KI despite landmark Supreme Court rulings which have determined that a First Nation does not have a veto and also despite recommendations of the recent Ipperwash inquiry. Our court ordered access to the mining claims has not been enforced."
In addition to the pursuit of access to and exploration of the Big Trout Lake property, Platinex intends to focus its future exploration efforts on other areas. On April 22, 2008, Platinex announced that it had staked claims in Ontario at North McFauld's Lake, South McFauld's Lake, Norton Lake, Awkward Lake, Core Zone and Tib Lake. Platinex also announced that it had acquired an option on claims in Churchill, MacMurchy and Asquith Townships, in Ontario. Additionally, on March 3, 2008, Platinex announced that it had staked claims on the Muskox Intrusion, in Nunavut Territory.
About Platinex Inc.
Platinex is a Canadian exploration company based near Toronto. Platinex focuses on carefully selected Platinum Group Element targets in settings analogous to the JM reef (Stillwater Complex, Montana) and the Merensky and UG2 reefs (Bushveld Complex, RSA). Platinex is determined to find platinum sources to be used in the campaign to eliminate the threat of global warming. Platinex also focuses on opportunistic acquisitions in non-PGE projects which show promise of near term improvement in value. Shares of Platinex are listed for trading on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol PTX.<< To receive Company press releases, please email email@example.com and mention "Platinex" on the subject line.
Except for statements of historical fact, all statements in this news release - including, without limitation, statements regarding future plans and objectives, are forward-looking statements that involve various risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate; actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.
THE TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE HAS NOT REVIEWED AND DOES NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THIS RELEASE.
/For further information: Platinex Inc., James R. Trusler, President & CEO, Tel: (905) 727-9046, firstname.lastname@example.org; CHF Investor Relations, Cathy Hume, CEO, Tel: (416) 868-1079 ext. 231, Email: Email: email@example.com/
Note: Canadian mainstream media is still not addressing the matter as it should. This is about a system that oppresses both natives and non-natives (2nd article):
Appeals court frees 6 protesters Indian leaders seeking change to Mining Act
TOBI COHEN THE CANADIAN PRESS
A group of Northern Ontario aboriginal leaders jailed over a dispute with a mining exploration company got a temporary reprieve yesterday, but their lawyer said they could be back in jail as early as next week if the province doesn’t change the Mining Act.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation — including its chief and deputy chief — released from jail for five days pending their next court appearance May 28.
They were released on their own recognizance after they agreed to abide by an injunction that prohibits them from interfering with the work of Platinex Inc.
Platinex in turn promised not to bring an exploration crew onto the disputed land before 9 a.m. May 29.
“They will have to report back to jail on May 29 unless there’s a further order from the court,” said lawyer Chris Reid.
He noted the group is appealing the six-month sentences, not the finding of contempt of court.
“The decision today changes nothing. The only way these people are going to be able to get out of jail, stay out of jail, is if the government of Ontario recognizes the right of these communities to say no to mining on their land,” Reid said.
Yesterday’s court decision, he added, did nothing for Bob Lovelace of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation in eastern Ontario. Lovelace is on a hunger strike and remains in solitary confinement on similar charges.
“We’re asking the Court of Appeal to send a message to the government that they need to change the mining law or this is going to happen over and over and over again,” Reid said. “They either have to amend the Mining Act or build a prison for political prisoners, because that’s what we’re going to be doing in Ontario if Dalton McGuinty doesn’t take steps to change this 19th century Mining Act.”
Mines Minister Michael Gravelle has said the government is committed to changing mining laws to include proper consultation with First Nations, but it will take time.
In the meantime, he said the government was not prepared to heed calls for a moratorium that would stop mining companies from staking claims on Crown land.
New Brunswick premier vows balance between uranium exploration and landowner rights
Canadian Press, Fredricton, June 6, 2008
The premier of New Brunswick says his government will look for ways to protect the rights of property owners without stifling prospecting by mining companies.
Prospectors have staked claims for uranium on thousands of properties in the province even though many of the landowners say they've never been notified.
Residents expressed their anger at public meetings this week in Fredericton and Moncton.
Premier Shawn Graham says he understands the concerns, but doesn't want regulations on uranium prospecting like those in Nova Scotia, which he says stand in the way of efforts to find other deposits such as gold, copper and lead.
Opposition member Claude Williams says the government needs to start by enforcing the Mining Act, which requires that prospectors notify landowners when a claim is staked.
Environmentalist stakes claim on Bear Mountain Ingmar Lee: 'We will exert our rights' Stew Young: 'Interchange supported'
Bill Cleverley Times Colonist
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
An environmentalist's claim to mineral rights under the Bear Mountain resort and Langford's new highway interchange likely won't disturb much earth, but it is digging up more headaches and marks for creativity.
Ingmar Lee has registered as a free miner, staked his claim to 950 hectares in and around Bear Mountain and formed the Bare Mountain Bonanza Corp. to start mining and selling chunks of Bear Mountain rock.
"I think it should be profitable, whatever capital we're getting, whether it's political or monetary-wise," Lee said yesterday.
Lee is part of a group opposed to construction of the Spencer Road interchange and Langford Mayor Stew Young said he's tiring of his activities.
"It doesn't surprise me. But it seems it's at the point now where it's a little misguided," said Young.
"I would say what he's doing now is more damaging to his own reputation than it is anything else. It's vexatious or vindictive. The public is behind the interchange."
New Democrat energy and mines critic John Horgan, who has debated the rights of free miners versus property rights in the legislature, said the "guerrilla theatre" of Lee's latest tactic is worth a smile.
"You've got to see the humour in these things," Horgan said. "I give Ingmar Lee -- who I don't normally give the time of day -- I give him full marks for creativity on this one. I think it's going to be an annoyance for Bear Mountain and it will bump up the legal bills."
"We see it as a nuisance," said Phil LeSeur, Bear Mountain vice-president of corporate and legal affairs.
Lee says he's sincere.
"We realize that people might think that this is just a vexatious, nuisance sort of thing. That may be. But the fact is no matter what our political views are on what's happening on the surface, we have a right to exploit that resource. If Bear Mountain wants to make a fuss about it that's fine, but we're going to exert our rights to exploit that resource."
Lee said all it took to certify as a miner was a visit to the ministry office, 15 minutes and $25. "Now you have access to the M.T. (Mineral Titles) online website and it's just click, click, click, click through the polygons and whatever you want in B.C. that's available, that's all you have to do to acquire it."
But there's more to mining than staking out claims and registering as a free miner, said Byng Giraud, vice-president of policy and communications for the Mining Association of B.C. "Simply because you have a claim doesn't mean you can start digging holes."
Giraud pointed to regulations such as the requirement to post a bond regarding soil disturbances and responsibility for remediation afterward.
He said the claim is for subsurface rights, and infers no control over what's happening on the surface of the land. "There are over 12,000 claims in the province and there are only 20 operating mines. There's a long road between staking a claim and actually having operations."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources said, under the Mineral Tenure Act, a claimholder does not have the right to impede development.
A month ago Lee was arrested and charged with obstructing a highway as RCMP moved in to break up a tree-sit protest at the foot of Leigh Road.
It was in opposition to an interchange which Langford officials say is being built to deal with traffic congestion from a growing population, including the Bear Mountain development.
As part of his release conditions, Lee is not allowed to be in the area where the interchange near Spencer Road is being constructed.
He says he plans to apply for a waiver "so I can conduct my affairs there."
Lee said he has no interest in destructive mining and does not plan to disturb anything that hasn't already been disturbed. But both Lee and Horgan believe Lee or his agents have the right to inspect materials being hauled off the interchange site.
"The blast rock, if I inspect it and find minerals in it, then I have to be compensated for that," Lee said.
Ingmar Lee's clever stunt in staking a mining claim to Bear Mountain highlights serious problems with the province's push to encourage mineral exploration.
Lee, a campaigner against the development and the Spencer Road interchange, simply walked through the door the provincial government opened in 2005 when it dramatically eased the rules for staking claims, shifting the scales to give prospectors more rights at the expense of landowners.
Up until then, mining companies actually had to stake their claims -- identify and survey the land they were interested in, put out markers and then file the claim. Under the new system, anyone could buy a miner's licence for $25 and then go online, pay a small fee and claim the mineral rights to any land. The owner doesn't know until someone shows up and starts digging holes or surveying the land.
The government's intention was to help the mining industry. Money saved on traditional staking costs could be spent on exploration on promising land, the government argued.
But the result was a huge increase in mining claims. In the first two weeks under the new system, companies claimed more land than in the entire previous year. Mining companies claimed the right to explore and develop mines and quarries on vast tracts, including land under residential areas. Some property owners first learned of the claims when they walked their land and saw evidence of digging or trees marked with spray paint.
Lee's goal, we suggest, is to use the claim as an opportunity to make life difficult for the developers and get more attention for his cause. There are protections for property owners -- mining claim holders are barred from activities in the immediate area of a home, for example. But as land owners have found in other parts of the province, a mining claim gives the right to access property without the owner's permission, do non-mechanized exploration work and even camp there for a while if necessary.
It's worthwhile to encourage mining. Mineral rights in most of the province belong to the Crown, not the property owner. So as well as jobs, mines and can produce royalty revenues for government.
And through most of the province's history, it has been accepted that prospectors and miners have a right to access private land, whether the owners like it or not.
But B.C. has changed. Areas that were once undeveloped are now someone's treasured home.
The government's effort to make it easier for mining companies to stake claims went too far, especially given the lack of consideration for property owners in developed areas.
Lee has exploited the weaknesses in the mining policy to make his point. His action should also convince the government that the balance between the rights of property owners and the rights of mining companies needs to be fixed. When an individual can launch this kind of effort so easily, there's a problem with the system.
Meet the residents of the Mexican village of Cerro de San Pedro, who are in Toronto to peacefully protest human rights violations and environmental devestation by Canadian gold and silver mining corporations operating on their land.
Lecture with residents of Cerro de San Pedro and FAO
Monday June 16th, 2008 @ 7pm Hart House 7 Hart House Circle South Dining Room (2nd floor) University of Toronto
(by subway: Museum Station, then walk south on University, west on Harbord, or St. George and walk south to Harbord)
In addition to hearing from residents of Cerro de San Pedro, you will also hear from representatives of Frente Amplio Opositor (FAO), the anti-mine movement located in Mexico and Montreal, formed to defend local campensino and indigenous peoples from environmental destruction (including water contamination through acid mine leakage) perpetrated by Canadian-owned extraction industries.
60% of the mining corporations in the world are located in Canada, due to laws which allow companies operating abroad to willfully violate basic human rights and environmental standards.
The Frente Amplio Opositor (FAO), the anti-mine movement located in Mexico and Montreal, is urgently seeking organizers and solidarity activists to spread the word and support our mobilization in Toronto. We are looking for people who can help with outreach and mobilization, and who may be interested in organizing other events with the Mexican delegates. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
ABORIGINAL RECONCILIATION: For once, Ontario squarely in Harper's camp
E-mail Murray Campbell | Read Bio | Latest Columns June 12, 2008
TORONTO -- In Dalton McGuinty's view, it was a bit unseemly - even a bit un-Canadian - to try to cast a shadow on a bright day of reconciliation by talking about the nitty-gritty of his government's relations with aboriginal communities.
"I'm disappointed," the Ontario Premier said yesterday when New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton asked him in the legislature to emulate Prime Minister Stephen Harper by apologizing for his government's role in the jailing of native leaders who were trying to protect their land from a mining company's incursions.
"I don't think I've ever said that before, but I just can't think of a better expression. ... The Prime Minister and I are on different sides on many issues, but on this side I'm squarely in his camp, because I think it's the Canadian camp."
Mr. McGuinty said he hoped the apology would "lay the foundation" for a stronger future for aboriginals. "So I just don't know why the Leader of the NDP would want to ..." he concluded before his microphone was cut off.
The Premier is right that Mr. Harper's acknowledgment of the harm caused by the policy of assimilation should be allowed to resonate for a while before it is relegated to history. But sooner rather than later, Ontario has to push along its own plan for reconciliation or risk repeated conflicts on its doorstep.
Mr. McGuinty has already accomplished much to advance Ontario beyond the bleak days after the 1995 police killing at Ipperwash Provincial Park of native protester Dudley George. His government promptly appointed an inquiry into those events after the 2003 election. Subsequently, it has pledged to implement all the recommendations of that inquiry's superb report in consultation with natives. As part of that, the government has set up a separate Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, returned Ipperwash to native hands and set up a $25-million "new relationship fund."
But much remains to be done to crack the central issue - land. Nearly 90 per cent of Ontario is owned by the "provincial" Crown, and much of it is also the traditional territory of aboriginal communities beyond the smaller tracts recognized in treaties. The land is carpeted with trees and rich with subterranean minerals coveted by the world beyond, and that's where the trouble often starts.
As Ipperwash inquiry commissioner Mr. Justice Sidney Linden noted: "Conflicts over natural resources often stem from sharply different understandings about the nature of the lands which aboriginal peoples agreed to share with newcomers."
The judge's recommendation for an independent treaty commission to oversee settlement of treaty and land claims has not yet been implemented. The government is also faced with fundamentally reforming mining legislation that allows companies "free entry" on traditional land to reflect court rulings that it has a duty to consult with native bands. It also has to set up a framework for sharing resources revenue and policies for police interventions during disputes.
Amnesty International's Canadian secretary-general, Alex Neve, is "increasingly concerned that the government has not demonstrated sufficient political will." Sam George, the slain protester's brother, agrees things could move faster. "But I would rather see it at a slow pace than not move at all," he said.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant says he is frustrated by the federal government's reluctance to set a deadline for resolving the backlog of land claims.
"The level of satisfaction with the state of negotiations surprises me and whenever the [federal] government gets asked questions in Parliament about this, the response seems to be everything is moving along exactly as it should," he said. "Well, it's not."
Natives and non natives unite to protect lands and livelihoods: Historic rally at Queen's Park today calls for antiquated laws to be changed and respect for First Nation rights www.madaraka.com/?news=130
CONSERVATIVES MUST STOP ALLOWING MINE WASTE TO DESTROY LAKES
OTTAWA-NDP Fisheries and Oceans critic Peter Stoffer (Sackville-EasternShore) repeated his call to the Conservative government to stop allowingmining companies to discharge their toxic mine tailings into healthy lakes.
"Canadians are shocked when they learn that this Conservative governmentallows healthy, fish-bearing lakes to be used as toxic dumping grounds formining waste which in turn kills the lakes and the life within it," saidStoffer. "I call on Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hearn to halt thispractice now."
"It is unacceptable that sixteen healthy lakes are at risk of beingre-classified as mine tailings ponds. This practise is a huge hidden subsidyfor mining industries looking for cheap waste disposal methods for theirtoxic waste. All mining operations should be required to have separatecontained tailing ponds that do not destroy healthy aquatic or freshwaterecosystems."
Stoffer introduced a bill (C-504) in February that would prohibit miningcompanies or other industries from using lakes as dumping grounds for toxicsubstances. The bill restricts the deposit of any quantity or concentrationof a deleterious substance in lakes.
Stoffer introduced this legislation because of a loophole in the currentFisheries Act. Healthy lakes can be redefined as mine waste impoundments inSchedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMERs) under theFisheries Act.
"Last year we alerted the Minister that mining companies across Canadawould line up to request the inclusion of lakes on Schedule 2 when theyallowed two healthy lakes in Newfoundland and Labrador to be reclassified astailings ponds. And now it appears that our warnings have come true."
"The Conservative government must put a stop to this activity immediately.The entire practice is shameful and goes against the very spirit of theFisheries Act which prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances intofish-frequented waters."
For more information, please contact:
Holly Brown, Office of Peter Stoffer MP at (613) 995-5822.
Shares of Canadian mining companies with operations in Equador were pounded yesterday as assembly that’s writing the country’s new constitution overwhelmingly approved a decree to revoke most mining concessions there.
The political development cut the market value of Aurelian Resources Inc. by about $314-million on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Ninety-five members of the 130-member Equadorian body approved the measure, which also calls for creation of a state-run mining company.
The assembly is controlled by the party of leftist President Rafael Correa, who took office last year, vowing to increase state control of natural resources and the economy.
A large number of Canadian mining companies of various sizes have concessions in the South American country and could be affected.
Shares of Toronto-based Aurelian, which holds the 950-square-kilometre Fruta del Norte discovery, fell 31.5 per cent.
Shares of Vancouver-based Dynasty Metals & Mining Inc. a junior also based in Vancouver, fell more than 10 per cent before trading in the shares was halted pending the news from Equador. It had been worth $344.7-million Thursday, so the decline cut about $34.5-million off its market value.
“The company has requested an official version of this mining mandate and will advise further as to the impact of this mandate on the company’s operations in Equador when the company’s analysis is completed,” Corriente said in a statement.
Corriente holds the Mirador copper-gold operation.
The decree revokes about 3,100 of the 4,112 active concessions and suspended 1,220 requests for concessions.
Mr. Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, took office last year, vowing to increase state control of natural resources and the economy. The former economy minister is a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who this month announced that he will nationalize the country’s largest steel maker, and that the state will take over three foreign-owned cement businesses.
Equador’s assembly has legislative powers in addition to writing a new constitution that will be submitted to voters.
The Canadian Press, with files from Associated Press
Correa warns about a "civil war" between communities and mining companies
REPORT: PRESS CONFERENCE FOR THE RELEASE OF THE CITIZENS' INQUIRY REPORT
By Marilyn Crawford
On June 24, 2008, the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU) released the report of the Citizens Inquiry on Uranium at a press conference held at the Queens Park Press Gallery.
The report is called ‘Staking our Claim for a Healthy Future’ - Report of Citizens’ Inquiry into the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle, held in April 2008 in Eastern Ontario.
Marilyn Crawford introduced the panel and gave the background to the report as well as laying out future directions such as the formation of a new province-wide coalition.
John Sewell spoke about the recommendations in the report. Joan Barton, from Environment Haliburton, described the situation in Haliburton where companies are actively exploring for uranium; and John Miller, Families Against Radiation Exposure, described the impacts of mined uranium on the health of the community of Port Hope.
Also present at the press conference were Valarie and Gery Hunnius and Shirley Deterling from Haliburton, Darlene Buckingham and Shawn Arscott of Bancroft, Wolfe Erlichman (CCAMU), Joel Klassen (Christian Peacemaking Teams), Dave Martin (Greenpeace) and a representative from Premier McGuinty’s office.
‘Staking our Claim for a Healthy Future’ is the result of the contribution of volunteers who invested thousands of hours to organize the inquiry and the sessions, 157 presenters and 230 submitted briefs, the seven panel members who played an important role, and the support of individuals and groups who supported the vision of the inquiry to give voice to the unheard communities affected by uranium. The full report can be seen at www.ccamu.ca .
As well as releasing the report, copies were provided to several government ministries, the opposition and the press.
The Citizens’ Inquiry gave people yearning to serve a chance to contribute, to participate, and to get involved. The inquiry helped people to learn from others, to find common ground, and to be positive about the kinds of changes needed in public policy -- changes that need to be brought to the attention of decision-makers.
Prospecting for uranium in the Sharbot Lake area of Eastern Ontario, and the possible startup of mining uranium in the region are issues that raise troubling questions for the local First Nations and residents. The mining of uranium raises significant health concerns, not only for those employed in the mines but for flora and fauna and the hundreds of thousands of residents in the affected watersheds, including residents of the city of Ottawa.
These issues have been the subject of considerable community concern and action. In response, the Community Coalition Against Uranium Mining (CCAMU) organized the Citizens’ Inquiry into the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle, which convened a series of public hearings in April 2008.
Consolidation of recommendations in this report
1) On an interim basis, the provincial government enact a new policy or law stating that a prospector may not enter on First Nations land or privately owned land and prospect or stake out that land without the signed consent, freely given, of the owner(s) of that land.
2) The province undertake a broad public review through a body such as a royal commission into the Mining Act, including mining and prospecting provisions in other jurisdictions; methods to make the Act relevant to today’s society; its relationship with other legislation and policies including those related to environmental protection and to municipalities. That this review be open, transparent, and accountable, and led by individuals who can evoke public trust. And from the report of this body the province enact new laws and policies for the new century to better serve public and private interests in Ontario.
3) The provincial government contract for and fund several definitive independent professional studies of residents in places where uranium has been processed, such as Port Hope, Blind River, and Chalk River, to determine the actual impacts of uranium of human health.
4) Since new nuclear power plants will not be in operation until 2018 at the soonest and the shortage of electricity is projected to occur by 2013, and because of their negative impacts, the province not proceed with plans for new nuclear power plants.
5) The province undertake a broad public review that is transparent and accountable, led by individuals who evoke public trust, through a body such as a royal commission into the alternatives to the use of uranium for medical purposes, particularly radioisotopes.
6) The $40 billion allocated to new nuclear plants be reallocated to reducing energy use, expanding sustainable sources of energy, and instituting a transition fund for those employed in and living in the communities relying on nuclear power. And that Ontario’s existing nuclear power plants be phased out as alternative energy sources become available.
7) The Ontario government enact a law declaring a moratorium on the prospecting and mining of uranium in Ontario in order to permit alternatives to be explored for the use of uranium as noted in recommendation 4, and so the province may indicate its good faith and proceed with dispatch to achieve reconciliation of claims to land rights with First Nations in areas where there are uranium ore deposits.
8) The province forthwith begin discussions with the federal government to ensure that the recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions respecting discussions and negotiations with First Nations are incorporated into proactive operating practice by the relevant officials of both governments.
This report sets the background to the inquiry and explains why these recommendations are not only reasonable and important, but also need to be proceeded with immediately.
Appendices to the report provide further detail about the hearings, the presenters, and a list of key events in the past twenty months.
Letter to the Premier:
NORTH FRONTENAC TOWNSHIP SENDS A FOLLOW-UP LETTER TO MCGUINTY
This sent in from Mary Lynn Stewart Holton and Jim Holton of OCAMU.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Holton:
In response to your email dated May 15, 2008 to Mayor Maguire and Deputy Mayor Beam with regards to petitioning the Provincial Government for a moratorium on uranium mining, the Council of the Township of North Frontenac passed Resolution #284-08 on June 12, 2008 authorizing the Clerk to send a follow-up letter to Premier McGuinty requesting a response. I am attaching a copy of the letter to Premier McGuinty, mailed today (June 18, 2008) along with the original Resolution of Council dated September 13, 2007.
I trust this is the information you require.
Jenny Duhamel Deputy Clerk Township of North Frontenac 6648 Road 506, Box 97, Plevna, ON
The Premier of Ontario Legislative Building Room 281 Queen's Park Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
Dr. Mr. McGuinty,
RE: Moratorium on Uranium Prospecting This letter is a follow-up to Resolution 395-07 of the Township of North Frontenac, dated September 13, 2007, which was forwarded to the Ministry of Northern Mines and Development on September 14, 2007, requesting the Province of Ontario to declare an immediate moratorium on uranium mineral exploration and mining in Eastern Ontario.
To date we have not received a response and the Council of the Township of North Frontenac respectfully requests a reply at your earliest convenience as to the position of this Resolution. A copy of our resolution is enclosed for your reference.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.
Brenda Defosse Clerk
CC: Mary Lynne Stewart Holton and Jim Holton Randy Hillier, MPP
Local activists skeptical that Province is reviewing controversial mining act
Date: 2008-06-13 By Lauren Gilchrist
It's been a long time coming, more than 100 years in fact, but the Ontario Mining Act is finally getting the review people argue it so desperately needs.
On Thursday, local MPP Jeff Leal told This Week the Ontario Mining Act is being reviewed.
“It's been going on the last number of months. This is an act that hasn't had a real substantial reform since the late 1800s. It's a very old act in Ontario. It came into being right after Confederation and hasn't had a major overhaul in 100 years,” he says.
“The environment has changed dramatically over that period of time.”
But there is still skepticism as to whether anything is happening at all.
“They said they were [reviewing the act]. But we don't have any proof. There is no evidence whatsoever that anything is happening. There is no consultation. There is no announcements. They made an announcement back in December. (Premier Dalton) McGuinty is supposed to have made some sort of announcement. But nothing happened,” says Roy Brady, member of Sage And Green Energy (SAGE).
“I personally don't believe it is happening. Whether it is the intention in the future or not, I don't know. We just can't take it for granted that it's going to happen so we are forcing the issue using municipal councils.” Kathy Nosich, communications with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, confirms that a review of the Ontario Mining Act is underway.
“We've been working for some time on a few different components. The first one was we did consultation on mineral versus surface rights and we've also been working on developing Aboriginal consultation approaches. Last year we released a discussion paper as part of that engagement process,” she explains.
“But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We still have considerable consultation that we are going to have to do and that's all coming. I don't have time lines for you on that just yet.”
She notes part of the work being done by the Ministry is looking at other jurisdictions and looking at how legislation for mining is dealt with in other jurisdictions.
“Once we've finished that we're going to have a better sense of the scope and timing and will be able to announce from there how folks can get involved in the public consultations.”
Mr. Brady and other members of SAGE will be at this Monday's (June 16) city council meeting to find out whether Peterborough will become the 20th municipality in southern Ontario to reject the idea of uranium mining. These municipalities already include the City of Ottawa, the City of Kingston and the municipalities and townships of Haliburton County.
At a Committee of the Whole meeting last Monday (June 9), members of SAGE brought forward a motion that city council petition the Province of Ontario and Premier McGuinty to place an immediate moratorium on uranium mining in the Otonabee River watershed and across Ontario. They also want council to petition the Province to review the Mining Act.
One key component of that review is looking at the issue of surface rights, which has most recently led to protests over uranium mining on native lands.
There are surface rights, which apply above the surface, and mineral rights, which apply to below the surface, of property. MPP Leal says whether a person owns their land under the surface is an age-old question.
“That's been an ongoing question and that's been a constitutional questions for many years with regards to natural resources such as oil and natural gas.”
While SAGE's motions received tentative approval last Monday, they still need final approval from councillors at the June 16 meeting.
Mr. Brady is optimistic.
“I think there were councillors who spoke quite passionately about that problem,” he says.
John Etches is also a member of SAGE. He says uranium mining is right at Peterborough's door step. Amongst other things, SAGE argues that potential uranium mining and milling projects pose health, environmental and financial risks for local citizens which is caused by radioactive toxins into the water, air and land.
“Uranium mining is a real threat to the City of Peterborough because there is the real potential of a uranium mine within the Otonabee River watershed. So it's important from that direct perspective,” he says.
Mr. Etches notes Peterborough is in a position to be supportive of other neighbouring communities that are under an even greater threat of being impacted by uranium mining.
“Peterborough is being a good neighbour by supporting this resolution,” he says.
Gold magnate Peter Munk was excoriated in a most public way recently at a Toronto Indigo event promoting daughter Nina Munk's co-authored celebration of Peter Munk's youthful pioneering in The Art of Clairtone.
The Q&A session, following Nina Munk's conversation with her father about the ahead-of-the-curve stereo equipment that Munk Sr. introduced in the 1960s, began with a questioner accusing the world's biggest gold producer of atrocities in the developing world, notably Papua New Guinea.
As journalist Doug Bell reported in "Spectator," his Toronto Life blog, the ambushed Munk was speechless as the questioner's long bill of indictments was read aloud to a somewhat hostile audience that came out to learn of Swedish stereo-cabinet design from the 1960s and not alleged rape and murder in Papua New Guinea by security guards under contract to Munk's Barrick Gold Corp.
With a photographer clicking away for an anti-Barrick website, Nina Munk's polite invitations to discuss the matter after the event were ignored by the protester, who turns out to be one Peter York. He sought to undercut Munk's undeniable reputation as one of Toronto's most active philanthropists by raising ugly questions about the ultimate source of the benefactions.
Barrick is also accused of complicity in the deaths of 52 miners in Tanzania. The evidence is skimpy at best that the incident even took place as described by protesters, for whom it doesn't seem to matter that whatever happened occurred before Barrick became involved in that project. The allegedly sordid details have also been chronicled in a recent documentary film.
Some issues here are clear. Assailing a tycoon publicly with unproven accusations of heinous acts does not advance the cause of those agitating for human-rights justice in the developing world. The tactics of the agitators are so transparently theatrical as to leave an unmistakable impression the activists aren't seeking truth but attention. They have chosen not to avail themselves of the admittedly burdensome task of taking up their cause in the abundance of domestic and international courts expressly designed to separate truth from innuendo.
Yet it's also true that the mining industry abroad and here at home, as the 1992 Westray Mine tragedy in Nova Scotia showed so clearly, routinely does take leave of social responsibility. They do so, in most instances, because those are the rules of the game set by local and often tyrannical ruling military juntas.
These "governments" (one hesitates to apply the term to rulers who allow, or cause, their citizens to die, as in the recent epic Myanmar natural disaster, for the sake of self-preservation), are only too pleased to further enrich a ruling cabal by clearing farmers and villagers off their land by whatever means necessary.
This is a moral issue, for Barrick, Anglo American PLC, BHP Billiton PLC, Rio Tinto PLC (new owners of Alcan Inc.) and every other global mining giant. And for oil majors like Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other resource firms as well – to say nothing of smaller outfits that have even less regard for how mining leases are made available to them by local satraps.
Such firms, and especially the larger ones, have a compelling case to make about the economic stimulus they provide to local communities where they extract resources. But there are many places where they arguably should not do business, no matter how attractive the economic prospects or pressing the demand from Western consumers, given the abysmal human-rights record of the thugs that pass for "government" in a given nation or region. Starved of royalties from resource extraction, Khartoum, for instance, would be rendered unable to commit and abet genocide in Darfur.
Those brief moments of embarrassment for Peter Munk in his own hometown, where several hospitals and centres of international studies bear his name as benefactor, are a glimpse into a global human-rights crisis in which a great many of us are complicit, however indirectly. We should all be agitating for a global commission that sets out and enforces new rules. They would begin with:
Preserving the sanctity of human life in resource regions;
Requiring distribution of resource royalties directly to residents of the land below which the resources are located;
And imposing heavily punitive sanctions against squalid regimes that hold entire populations prisoner.
Peter Munk and his fellow industrial leaders can either be a galvanizing part of that reform process, or someday find themselves in forced compliance with a new set of humane rules for doing business that they did not champion and help devise.