Release aboriginal leaders, activists urge

 

Release aboriginal leaders, activists urge

 

Chinta Puxley

Copyright (c) 2008 Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

 

TORONTO

 

Author Margaret Atwood, actor Cathy Jones and musician Sarah Harmer are among 20 prominent Canadians calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to free seven jailed aboriginal leaders and stop controversial mineral exploration across the province.

 

In a letter being sent to McGuinty today, the group of activists, which includes former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis, pleads the case of aboriginals trying to stop mining in their traditional northern territory.

 

Six members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation were jailed for six months this year after ignoring an injunction allowing Platinex to start work on traditional aboriginal territory 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont. Retired Algonquin chief Bob Lovelace is also serving six months in jail opposing a uranium project in eastern Ontario.

 

"We support the right of a community to say NO to mineral exploration and mining projects that threaten the health of people and ecosystems in Ontario,'' states the letter, which calls for the immediate release of those jailed.

 

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said the province is trying to expedite the appeal of the leaders. The Liberals are also committed to overhauling the Mining Act, with the help of aboriginal communities, so they are properly consulted in the future, he said.