Ottawa

Police hopeful aboriginal blockade will 'remain peaceful'

Police are hoping that an aboriginal blockade of a potential uranium mining site in eastern Ontario will continue to be peaceful. A judge has ordered the aboriginal protesters to end the blockade but the First Nations communities have vowed to continue it.

Police are hoping that an aboriginal blockade of a potential uranium mining site in eastern Ontario will "remain peaceful." A judge has ordered the aboriginal protesters to end the blockade but theFirst Nations communitieshave vowed to continue it.

"It's certainly going to be a difficult situation," said Ontario Provincial Police Const. Paige Whiting Tuesday.

"Again, we’re just going to have to assess it day by day. We’re wanting it to remain peaceful. We don’t want to … have any issues raised where somebody could get hurt."

'I'm willing to die here if that’s what it takes to not have a uranium mine here.'—Ardoch Chief Paula Sherman

Neither the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin First Nations nor the mining exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corp. are happy with Ontario Superior Court Justice Gordon Thomson's 20-page interim decision, issued quietly last week, that bans entry to the property near Sharbot Lake by anyone except "the owner with the valid registered deed."

Aboriginal protesters have been blocking the entrance to the site, about 60 kilometres north of Kingston, since June 29.

The Algonquins say they are concerned that uranium mining would contaminate water and cause other environmental damage on property that comprises ancestral lands they never properly surrendered, and say the order won’t stop them from trying to protect their land.

"For myself personally, I'm willing to die here if that’s what it takes to not have a uranium mine here," said Paula Sherman, chief of the Ardoch First Nation, on Tuesday.

Bob Lovelace, former chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said the protesters will "continue to secure the gate and not permit entry into our lands without our permission.

"And certainly the exploration company will not be permitted to do any test drilling," he added.

Frontenac Venturesto obey order

The ruling does prevent Frontenac Ventures from entering the property, where it had hoped to do some drilling for uranium, said the company’s lawyer, Neil Smitheman.

"It certainly doesn't satisfy Frontenac fully, but that's His Honour's order and the company will obey the court," Smitheman said.

He added that he hopes the judge will provide more direction on Thursday, when he is to meet with lawyers in court to discuss the order.

The judge’s decision is a response to court action initiated by Frontenac Ventures, which is suing the Algonquins for $77 million and seeking a judicial order to remove First Nations protesters from the site, where it wants to do test drills for uranium.

The order came the same week the Algonquins sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, announcing that they were pulling out of the court process and asking the Ontario government to intervene in the dispute.

Besides ordering the Algonquins and the company from the site,the ruling also orders the removal of all "signs, vehicles, buildings and other paraphernalia" erectedat the siteby either theAlgonquins or the mining exploration company since July 1, 2007, the Kingston Whig-Standard reported.

However, it allows for a qualified archeologist to search the property for sacred indigenous burial sites.

A decision on the injunction requested by Frontenac Ventures, which would grant the company full access to the site, is to be made in September.

The site includes privately owned property, but is mainly land that Ontario considers to be owned by the Crown. The Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation is in land claim negotiations with the federal and provincial governments.

With files from the Canadian Press

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