Jailing of natives an obstacle to peace, Fontaine says

 

Jailing of natives an obstacle to peace, Fontaine says

 

Copyright (c) 2008 The Toronto Star

 

The jailing of six Northern Ontario aboriginal leaders poses a serious obstacle to making peace with a mining company, Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine said yesterday after a jailhouse visit.

 

Fontaine said the leaders from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation near Thunder Bay aren't opposed to development. They are serving six months for breaching an order not to obstruct Platinex Inc.'s exploratory drilling on their traditional lands.

 

What the native leaders do oppose is the way in which the deal was managed by Platinex and the government, Fontaine said.

 

"Platinex because they ignored the rights and interests of this community's traditional lands, and the provincial government's decision to issue the permit to allow exploration to take place without regard to their legal duty to consultation and accommodation," he said. Still, Fontaine said he was "encouraged" by a recent meeting with Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant, who he said seemed committed to moving forward on several issues.