KINGSTON, ON: Ardoch Algonquin spokesperson fined and jailed for trying to prevent uranium mining on Algonquin lands

16 February 2008
KINGSTON, ON: Ardoch Algonquin spokesperson fined and jailed for trying to prevent uranium mining on Algonquin lands

Kingston Regional Police took Bob Lovelace away from the Kingston, ON courthouse in handcuffs on 15 February 2008 to serve a six-month sentence on a contempt of court charge handed down by Justice Douglas Cunningham. Lovelace, age fifty-nine, is an ex-chief and spokesperson for the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN). He is also father to seven children and an instructor at Queen’s University and Sir Sandford Fleming Community College.

Justice Cunningham imposed a fine of $25,000 on Lovelace and $10,000 on his community.

Lovelace said, “I am in a dilemma. I want to obey Canadian law but Algonquin law instructs me that I must preserve Creation. I must follow Algonquin law.” Judge Cunningham in his sentencing said, “There can only be one law – the law of Canada as expressed in this court.”

Co-chief Paula Sherman and Honorary Chief Harold Perry agreed to abide by the terms of an injunction which forbids them from blocking Frontenac Ventures Ltd from drilling test holes on the site or encouraging others to do so. By doing so, they avoided Bob Lovelace’s penalty. “I want to be with Bob,” said Perry, “but my community does not want me to do this." Perry is seventy-eight and has heart problems and Paula Sherman is a single parent.

Earlier in the hearing, Chief Doreen Davis and Earl Badour of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation agreed to abide by the terms of the injunction of 27 September 2007. They must reappear in court on 18 March 2008.

Chris Reid, lawyer for AAFN, noted other options were available to the involved parties that would have prevented this outcome. The Province of Ontario could have removed the claimed land from the lands available for exploration. Further, he observed “The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that all provinces have a duty to consult with First Nations who have even a weak claim on land before they permit any development. Ontario has not consulted with any Algonquin band about this claim.”

Christian Peacemaker Teams has sent teams and delegations to support the Algonquin nations since September 2007. We lament the unjust actions of Justice Cunningham and the government of Ontario. We fear that the actions of the court and the government are leading this province down the road of confrontation that will inevitably lead to more suffering, injustice and bloodshed for Aboriginal Peoples. We beg Ontario Premier McGuinty to intervene and change course, to choose instead to work towards a just relationship with Aboriginal Peoples.