Archbishop Fred Hiltz, national leader of the Anglican Church of Canada, lent his voice in March to those criticizing the jailing of six Northern Ontario natives protesting operations by a mining company.
“I believe that the jail sentence of these leaders has caused a serious impasse between the indigenous peoples of Canada and the government of Ontario, arising out of the continual imposition of the powers and values of colonizers,” wrote Archbishop Hiltz in a letter to Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty.
The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the national indigenous bishop, Mark MacDonald, also protested the aboriginals’ “peaceful opposition to drilling for platinum on their traditional lands.”
On March 17, Judge George Smith of Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay sentenced Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) chief Donny Morris and five other band members to six months in jail for contempt of court. The natives had disobeyed an October court order that directed them to stay away from exploratory drill sites operated by Platinex, Inc. KI leadership also rejected a compromise proposed by Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant that would have contributed to the band’s legal costs and required Platinex to consult with natives. KI leaders said they objected to the plan because it assumed drilling would go ahead.