The co-chairs of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Anglican National Indigenous Bishop have written Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in protest against the jailing for contempt of court of six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwg First Nation.
The Northern Ontario aboriginal people were jailed for contempt “for their peaceful opposition to drilling for platinum on their traditional lands,” the letter says. It is signed by ACIP co-chairs Archdeacon Sidney Black and the Rev. Gloria Moses, and by Bishop Mark MacDonald.
The text of the letter follows.
March 20, 2008
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Ontario Provincial Legislature
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Dalton McGuinty,
ACIP supports Aboriginal Rights and Treaties: we walk in solidarity with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and First Nations Leaders across Canada
Amnesty International recently summarized events that are deeply troubling to us:
That on March 17th, six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwg (KI) First Nation, Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack MacKay and four other members were sentenced to six months in jail on contempt charges for their peaceful opposition to drilling for platinum on their traditional lands. They consider it to be their responsibility to protect their lands from drilling in the Boreal Forest in northern Ontario.
Prior to this, the Ardoch Algonquins were sentenced in court for opposing uranium exploration in a part of eastern Ontario that they have never surrendered and which is currently part of the Algonquin land claim negotiations. Ardoch spokesperson Bob Lovelace was sentenced to six month detention and find $25,000. In addition, the community was fined $10,000 and Chief Paula Sherman $15,000. Leaders of the neighbouring Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation and non-Aboriginal supporters of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation have also been in court.
We agree with the analysis of Amnesty International, and others who have, as groups or individuals, criticized these actions. Further, we would add that
the leaders have acted courageously defending the living and primal relationship of their people to the land. This relationship is regarded as a fundamental, moral and legal right by the United Nations and every major religious and ethical system known to human kind. The court’s inability to recognize this primary relationship and obligation calls into question the moral credibility of our present legal system.
This action is not only a dangerous violation of Aboriginal Rights it also contradicts a growing concensus towards the stewardship of the land on the part of all Ontario citizens.
We ask that the province act before any further injustices are committed.[signed]
The Venerable Dr. Sidney Black
The Rev. Gloria Moses
The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
National Indigenous Anglican Bishop
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