Tuesday, December 9, 2008
My delegation with CPT
From November 15-23 I had the blessing to be sent by the House Famous to participate on a Christian Peacemaking Teams delegation in Algonquin Territory supporting Algonquin First Nation groups' attempts to keep a Frontenac Ventures Uranium Mine off of their traditional lands.
Throughout the very busy week we met with Ardoch First Nation leaders including Bob Lovelace and current co-chief Mireille Lapointe who taught us much about their claims to the land and how Canada has continued to ignore First Nations claims throughout our history. It seems our province of Ontario has been especially bad with honoring treaties, placing economic interests above right relations with Aboriginal People. We also met with the OPP who taught us about their ART and MELT teams which were developed in response to Dudley George's death at Ipperwash, and have improved the OPP's interaction with First Nation's groups. Finally we met with settlers in the area, some who support the mine and many who were against the mine. It was interesting to learn the full perspective on the situation as too often I read about injustices such as these and then wonder how much of what was said was true, and most often I end up doing nothing. This time will be different.
It seems to me that at the very least, the uranium mine should be stopped for the sake of right relations with the Algonquin people who have claim to the land. They never gave up the land to Canada with any treaty. They have the right then to determine whether a mine should exist.
Numerous towns and cities including Kingston, Ottawa, and Perth have declared a moratorium on uranium mining and it's clear that uranium mining is an environmental disaster. By attending this delegation I was able to look on the area that would be affected by the extraction of uranium, and it includes the whole Mississippi River (of Ontario!) watershed. I went on my first canoe trip with Camp IAWAH on the Mississippi and my memories are marked with the stunning beauty of the land we passed as we paddled. That land needs to be protected from being poisoned by uranium byproducts. Some things are more important than economic development.
I learned a lot on my trip about right relations, my own white privilege, racism and even spirituality. I spent a lot of time reflecting on ways I have benefited from ignoring Aboriginal Rights. I then spent a lot of time lamenting and repenting. At that point I was also blessed to learn that guilt will only keep me doing nothing, that moving forward to establish right relationships is far more important than feeling bad. A huge lesson.
Here is a report on our delegation from Christian Peacemaking Teams