Union of BC Indian Chiefs' (UBCIC) President, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, challenges the Ontario Government to honorably negotiate with the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN) rather than use the courts to harshly punish and intimidate those protecting their territory.
"It is a brutish and troubling precedent when companies use the courts to jail community members for protecting not only their Aboriginal Title and Rights but their basic human rights," said Grand Chief Phillip. "Furthermore, when a provincial government chooses litigation rather than good-faith negotiations, it sends a clear message that corporate greed trumps human rights."
AAFN negotiator Robert Lovelace was sentenced six months in jail and fined $25,000 for his participation in an ongoing peaceful protest over uranium exploration on Algonquin traditional territory in Eastern Ontario. Co-chief Paula Sherman was fined $15,000.00 and the Ardoch First Nation community was fined $20,000.00.
International human rights treaties recognize that all peoples have the right to maintain their unique cultures and traditions, exercise control over their own lives, and to use and benefit from the lands and resources of their territories. This is not the case in Canada as evident in the Government of Canada's stance against the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While 143 nation-states of the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration in September 2007, Canada was one of four nation-states who actively campaigned and voted in opposition to the Declaration.
"The use of the court to persecute Indigenous Peoples for defending who they are and protecting their territory is deeply disturbing," said Phillip. "Governments and corporations must be held to account. If the court cannot be relied upon than as Indigenous Peoples we must take our concerns to the International stage."
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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip