Native leaders upset over jailings, alleged OPP plan


Native leaders upset over jailings, alleged OPP plan


Copyright (c) 2008 The Hamilton Spectator.




Aboriginal leaders say the already fragile relationship between First Nations and governments is being threatened by an alleged OPP plan to break up a native protest with force and by the incarceration of native leaders for protesting a mining site on their land.


Representatives of several northern Ontario First Nation communities gathered in Toronto yesterday to speak out against the cases of seven aboriginal protesters — including a chief and deputy chief — who last week were handed six-month jail sentences for violating court orders and continuing protests against mining on their traditional lands.


The children of the jailed protesters will be without a parent for half a year, and the communities feel spurned by the Ontario government, said Chief Scott Jacob of the Webequie First Nation.


"The decision last week to incarcerate (aboriginal) leadership to me is not a respectful, meaningful relationship," he said.


The Liberal government didn't want the protesters from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation to receive jail sentences and petitioned to the court on their behalf, but Premier Dalton McGuinty said he can't undo the court's decision.