Hundreds of First Nations citizens joined together in a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto today to show support for six incarcerated members of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) community in Northern Ontario.
Now known as the KI-6, KI Chief Donny Morris, Deputy Chief Jack McKay, Head councillor Cecilia Begg, councillors Sam McKay and Darryl Sainnawap, and band employee Bruce Sakakeep, were each sentenced by a Thunder Bay Superior Court Judge, to six months in prison for contempt of court following an attempt to block the Platinex Inc. mining company from accessing the land to drill.
Back in October, Platinex Inc. was awarded a court order which allowed the company to begin exploratory drilling in KI’s territory.
"Companies must consult!" Exclaimed Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. "We want the right to say no!"
Beaucage also stated that they will be continuing discussions with the Province regarding mining and want comprehensive changes to the mining act.
"Our people don't want to block progress, we want to be part of it," Beaucage said.
Ontario NDP Leader MPP Howard Hampton said the McGuinty Government should remove First Nation land from mineral exploration and called on the Liberals for the immediate release of the six imprisoned.
“With First Nation leaders in jail because they were forced to stand up and protect their Aboriginal rights and traditional lands, the McGuinty Liberals continue to put mining interests ahead of Aboriginal interests,” Hampton stated.
Also in attendance were Chief Angus Toulouse, KI spokesman Jacob Ostaman, and NDP Critic for Timmins-James Bay Gilles Bisson.