Archive for March, 2008

Chiefs and band councillors jailed

Posted in Algonquin Nation, Anishinabe Nation, Cree Nation, Repression on March 27, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Aboriginal umbrella group breaks off talks with provincial government over decision

With a report from Karen Howlett in Toronto
Globe and Mail
March 18, 2008

OTTAWA — Native leaders from a remote Northwestern Ontario reserve were sent to jail in handcuffs yesterday for opposing mining on their traditional lands, as an opposition leader blamed the Ontario government for failing to resolve the conflict.

Chief Donny Morris, deputy chief Jack McKay and four band councillors each received six-month sentences for contempt of court from the Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay.

It was the second time this year that aboriginal leaders have been jailed in Ontario over mining blockades.

The incarcerated leaders are gaining support from a wide spectrum of activists, including human-rights groups, American environmentalists and even the Kingston-based rock group the Tragically Hip.

Moreover, the umbrella group representing native reserves across Ontario’s North said that it is severing all talks with the province in light of yesterday’s development.

The six people sentenced yesterday are from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (also known as KI or Big Trout Lake) First Nation, about 600 km north of Thunder Bay.

The natives are in a dispute with Platinex Inc., an exploratory drilling company, which holds more than 220 mining claims in the area to look for platinum deposits.

The court issued an order last fall allowing Platinex to begin drilling, but when company representatives landed in Big Trout Lake on Nov. 6, natives and an aboriginal OPP officer threatened to arrest them if they proceeded, Mr. Justice George Smith said yesterday.

“If two systems of law are allowed to exist – one for the aboriginals and one for the non-aboriginals – the rule of law will disappear and be replaced by chaos,” he said.

A few hours later in the Ontario Legislature, New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton blamed the court decision on the McGuinty government’s “complete and utter failure” to consult aboriginal communities about mineral exploration.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said he has visited KI every month this year in an effort to negotiate a resolution.

“The finding [yesterday] obviously is extremely disappointing,” Mr. Bryant said.

The Platinex mining claims are not on reserve land, but rather the larger traditional native lands. The company has said it tried to involve KI in the process and offered financial compensation.

Chris Reid, who represents both aboriginal communities that were found in contempt, said natives in Big Trout Lake are vowing to maintain their opposition even though the court case has brought them close to bankruptcy.

“No way are they backing down,” Mr. Reid said. “What they’ve been saying is they’ll have to put the whole community in jail – 1,300 people.”

Last month, Paula Sherman and Robert Lovelace, co-chiefs of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, were sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court in similar circumstances. Chief Lovelace was also fined $25,000 and Chief Sherman $15,000. Chief Sherman avoided jail time by promising to stop protesting against uranium prospecting north of Kingston.

The incarceration of Chief Lovelace, a professor at Queen’s University, was noted by Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie during a recent concert in their hometown of Kingston.

“Here’s one for Bob Lovelace,” he told the crowd, before playing the song It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.

Native protester denied bail a second time

Posted in Repression, Six Nations Confederacy on March 5, 2008 by wiinimkiikaa

Native protester denied bail a second time

March 01, 2008
Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
CAYUGA ( Mar 1, 2008 )

A native activist facing serious criminal charges, including attempted murder, has been denied bail for the second time since he was arrested last year.

Albert Kirk Douglas, 32, has been at the Barton Street jail since he was picked up during a routine traffic check outside Cornwall on Sept. 27, 2007.

He faces more than a dozen criminal charges in connection with the OPP raid at Douglas Creek Estates on April 20, 2006, and two other incidents in Caledonia on June 9, 2006. The June 9 incidents involved an attack on two television camera crew at the Canadian Tire parking lot and hijacking of a U.S. law enforcement vehicle.

During the hijacking, it’s alleged Douglas tried to back over an OPP officer who’d fallen out of the vehicle and was lying semiconscious on the pavement.

He faces counts of robbery and assault in relation to the attack on the camera crew and charges of dangerous driving, forcible confinement and attempted murder in relation to the hijacking.

On Oct. 15, 2007, more than two weeks after his arrest, justice of the peace Paul Welsh denied Douglas’s application for bail in Cayuga court.

Welsh concluded that Douglas, who wasn’t represented by a lawyer, was a flight risk and posed a substantial likelihood of committing more offences if he were released on bail. He also ruled releasing him into the community would undermine the public’s confidence in the administration of justice.

During many court appearances, the soft-spoken activist has portrayed himself as a freedom fighter and prisoner of war and said he doesn’t recognize the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts.

Superior Court Justice Stephen Glithero upheld Welsh’s ruling when he conducted a mandatory review of Douglas’s detention in Cayuga court yesterday.

He imposed a publication ban on evidence heard during the bail review, lawyers’ submissions and his own reasons for denying bail.

During the review, Douglas was represented by Caledonia lawyer Aubrey D. Hillilard, who made an impassioned plea for his release.

She proposed two sureties to make sure Douglas would abide by his bail conditions, including his sister Angel Smith. She was one of more than two dozen spectators who had come to support Douglas’s bid for bail. He showed no emotion when the judge turned him down.

“He’s trying to keep his spirits up and stay positive,” Hillilard told reporters outside the courtroom.

She said Douglas will have access to a computer at the Barton Street jail, which will enable him to review the many pages of material the Crown has disclosed to the defence.

Hillilard said she will also try to expedite the proceedings by having him tried separately in cases where he was jointly charged.

“They have the luxury of time,” she said. She was referring to the fact that all the other protesters had been granted bail and would be out of custody until their trials.

Hillilard said she asked for a publication ban because the extensive media attention may have hurt his chances of obtaining bail.

“There has been so much media coverage and so much frenzy in relation to Albert’s (case),” she said.