Ontario: Uranium Mining Blockade

On September 3, 2007, CPT sent a violence-reduction team to accompany the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadijiwan First Nations in a blockade of uranium mining exploration on their unceded territory.
    The Ontario provincial government issued a permit to Frontenac Ventures Corporation for a two-year, $3.5-million program to explore the feasibility of open pit uranium mining on Algonquin lands without the consent of the Ardoch and Shabot communities.
    Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN) is an Anishinaabe community of about 700 members located in the Madawaska, Mississippi, and Rideau watersheds (Frontenac and Lanark counties in eastern Ontario).  They have not ceded title to the lands currently under exploration by Frontenac.  Canadian law established Aboriginal title to unceded land in the Royal Proclamation Act of 1763, and this title was also enshrined in Canada’s 1982 constitution.
    On June 28, 2007 the AAFN closed the gate at the entrance to the road used for uranium exploration. The Algonquins occupied the area inside the gate.  In support of the blockade, non-aboriginal Canadians who have settled in the area set up a tent city outside the gate.
    On August 31, an Ontario Superior Court issued an injunction against the blockade which grants Frontenac “immediate” and “unfettered” access to the 8,000 hectares it has staked and is currently drilling.  
    A local sheriff read the injunction aloud in front of the gate, but no one there heard it because native drummers and settler singers drowned out the sheriff’s voice.
    On September 18, police charged seven people with violating the injunction, including CPTer David Milne.
      The environmental consequences of uranium mining include contamination of ground water with heavy metals and radioactive materials, dispersal of radioactive dust and release of radioactive gases into the atmosphere.  Once the uranium ore is processed, 85% of the radioactivity remains in the tailings, which require management for hundreds of thousands of years.
    The Ardoch and Shabot First Nations are calling for the end of all mining exploration, staking and drilling by Frontenac.  In addition to the blockade, community action groups have been organizing petitions, letter-writing campaigns, and even a tax revolt.
    For more information, see the Ardoch website at http://www.aafna.ca/
    Initial team members serving at the blockade were: David Milne (Belleville, ON), Esther Kern (London, ON), Murray Lumley (Toronto, ON), John Spragge (Toronto, ON).