Algonquins resume blockade at Sharbot Lake uranium site

Protesters from two First Nations communities have resumed blocking a prospective uranium mining site in eastern Ontario.

Protesters from two First Nations communities have resumed blocking a prospective uranium mining site in eastern Ontario.

The Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nations returned to the site near Sharbot Lake, Ont., after mediation talks with the Ontario government that began last fall broke down.

Robert Lovelace, co-chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said the protesters are standing outside the gate to the site because they are concerned the mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corp. will start test drills there, as it is legally entitled to do.

"We're monitoring the site and if Frontenac Ventures attempts to bring a drill onto the site, we'll blockade that drill," he said Wednesday.

The protesters began occupying the site in June 2007, but suspended their occupation in October 2007 after reaching an agreement with the provincial government to begin mediation talks.

Lovelace announced in January that protesters would start reoccupying the site near the end of the month, despite a court order forbidding them to do so, unless the province stopped Frontenac Ventures from doing further work there. They began their reoccupation Monday.

Neil Smitheman, a lawyer for the company, said Ontario Provincial Police are monitoring activity around the property but aren't enforcing the court order.

"This is an order of the court and the administration of justice would be brought into disrepute if it's not followed. You can't, in a free and democratic society, ignore court orders," he said.

He added that police don't seem capable of enforcing court orders in other disputes with aboriginal groups throughout the province, in places such as Deseronto and Caledonia.

"All we know is we are loath to depend upon the local police for enforcement of the judge's order," he said.

The company has brought contempt of court charges against several protesters for blocking entry to the site and the case is back in court Tuesday.