March 21, 2008
On March 18, six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation were sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court, for opposing mining company operations on their traditional lands in Northwestern Ontario. The imprisoned leaders include the majority of members of the KI Band Council.
This follows similar contempt of court sentences against activists from the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, near Kingston Ontario, for blocking uranium mining operations on their land.
The following statement was issued on March 20 by the KI Council.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib, Ontario - We are saddened today that our leaders have been jailed for contempt and they’re there for what they strongly believe – to protect Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Homelands!
As a result of our community assembly on March 18, 2008, the present Chief and Council notably, Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, Head Councillor Cecilia Begg, Councillors Samuel McKay and Darryl Sainnawap are still our leaders and are deemed equivalent as leaders in exile as expressed by the people of Kitchenuhmaykoosib. One band member, Bruce Sakakeep is also in jail for contempt as well.
The remaining Council members Susan Nanokeesic, Kenny Martin and Angus McKay are still politically active at the community level with the assistance of a working group consisting of 18 community members.
With consultation between the exiled Council members and the Council in Kitchenuhmaykoosib, we take strong stand on the following:
1. No Parliamentarian, be it federal or provincial member, is allowed in the Homelands of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug;
2. No more free entry to Kitchenuhamaykoosib lands by Platinex or any other mining entity including First Nation mining companies;
3. Ongoing blockade will be more protected and secured in order to protect our KI Homelands;
4. Assembly of First Nations must abandon the partnership agreements with the mining industry in Canada;
5. All First Nation political territorial organizations in Ontario do not speak directly for or on behalf of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, but their support on the issue is welcome;
6. Ontario must respond to our proposal made with our brothers and sisters of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, to establish a joint panel on mining on First Nations lands.
There is suspicion and fear on our part as a result of the court’s disposition on our leaders. There is no more sense of safety and well being for all Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug to rely on the Canadian government’s legal and statutory obligations on our people, especially the government of Ontario. The court document and its disposition gives us anxiety and terror for we are all distressed enough with our present social and economic situation.
The court ruling is a deliberate attack on the blood, bone and spirit of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug. It referenced many cases and ancient views of “rule of law” that we don’t agree with it. The mention of “Magna Carta” is no exception. Ontario uses it to make a false disposition on our people. The remnants of Magna Carta did indeed killed off many Indigenous peoples in both South and North Americas. The principle of that no one is above the law is hypocritical as displayed by the government of Ontario!
The Ontario emissary, Mr. Michael Bryant came to our community and offered no formal agenda and plan for negotiations. There was no real substance for negotiations despite what he said in a press release dated March 17, 2008. Unfortunately, this is the day that our leaders were imprisoned. The Ontario emissary Mr. Bryant is indeed speaking fork-tongued, repeated once again as Treaty Commissioners did back in 1929. He is not formally talking to anyone at KI as he professes to be!
KI Council along with our brothers and sisters at Ardoch Algonquin First Nation who are facing similar situation jointly submitted a proposal to Ontario outlining moratorium on exploration and mining in the disputed areas; a joint panel to consist three-party membership to investigate exploration and mining issues; and to negotiate interim measures agreement. Mr. Bryant did not take our proposal seriously and he will not even mention any of the contents described.
We are very thankful for those that supported us from the beginning and we still need your support more than ever. With your ongoing support, KI will prevail.
For additional information see the websites of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and Ardoch Algonquin First Nations.
KI is urging supporters of these political prisoners to contribute the Ardoch defense fund. Cheques payable to “Chris Reid In Trust for Ardoch Algonquin First Nation” should be mailed to:
Christopher M. Reid, Barrister & Solicitor,
154 Monarch Park Ave.,
Toronto, ON M4J 4R6