The Big Whitewash

A Short Court Report

On March 18 hundreds of us converged at Kingston’s courthouse for a second round of contempt of court hearings and we were all expecting the worst. The court’s agenda was to deal with more outstanding charges against both Algonquins and Settlers. But what was supposed to be three full days of court was miraculously transformed into 3 hours of “housecleaning” by Frontenac Venture’s lawyer Neal Smitheman.

Frank Morrison, white landowner in contempt of court along with his well prepared defence was swept under the rug. All charges dropped. Poof! No more annoying, time consuming arguments about uranium mining. White man # 1 gets off scot free after living with this charge hanging over his head for seven months. No defence required.

White man # 2, a member of the Christian Peacemakers and a United Church Minister had lived with a contempt charge for the past six months. Once again he was prepared for anything and had good legal representation. All charges dropped.

White man # 3, also a member of The Christian Peacemakers and another longtime recipient of a contempt citing. All charges dropped although he had to “take an undertaking” not to protest or prevent Frontenac Ventures from exploratory drilling.

No horrendous fines (which, by the way, would be paid to Frontenac Ventures). No jail time. Relief from stress. Hallelujah! These three brave men deserved the break. But it was shockingly obvious that the court didn’t want to waste its time on the white folks.

Now let’s look at the treatment of the Indians. Maximum jail terms for contempt of court, heavy fines, financial and psychological humiliation. That’s harsh and brutal punishment for standing up and protesting uranium mining on their traditional lands. Then there’s the KI story in Big Trout Lake; six Band Councillors jailed for six months for the same “crime”, different mineral.  An interesting twist here is that both these stories feature the same legal cast – Neal Smitheman represents the two different mining companies involved. Chris Reid represents the two native groups involved. Good material for an HBO series. Bring back Deadwood. perhaps.

It seems the powers that be want to keep this story as a native story only. Drop the charges against the white people and don’t give them a chance to air their views. The white men charged with contempt of court were prepared to defend their right to protest and go to jail if it came to that. They were as involved in the protest this summer as anyone. But no one wanted to hear their stories.

On March 17,  six more white people were charged with contempt.  The Robertsville Six will be in court on June 2nd along with Bob Lovelace, Paula Sherman and Harold Perry who are all facing a second round of contempt charges.  I happen to be one of those white people charged. None of us, native or settler, have committed a crime but our protest has been criminalized and our human rights have been stomped on. What’s next in the name of uranium?

Our protest is definitely being marginalized as a native story by both the Ontario courts and our national media. The story they’re missing is the emergence of the 21st century Settler Movement which has grown out of our alliance with our First Nations brothers and sisters. Stay tuned.


3 Responses to “The Big Whitewash”

  1. Diane Woodman Says:

    Hello. I am angered and appalled at this news. I agree that the ‘powers that be’ are ignoring the uranium issue and making it a native land claims issue…..which will end up a sorry state for the nation’s capital water supply in future.

    I have not done much to help your cause, except to write letters and attend a few rallies, and speak to as many people as I can, especially people living in Ottawa. My husband bought a video on Energy ALternatives and sent it to Dalton McGuinty, and he is planning on continuing to address the man with books and videos. I am losing hope of ever gaining an inch in this cause. But then, I lose hope easily. How to gain some hope?

    I wish you luck in surviving your contempt charges.

  2. Gloria Morrison Says:

    I am still ‘reeling’ in my thoughts and heart regarding what has happened here – and continues to play out for many of us. This article is the best one that I have found to express what happened in that court room on March 18th. To say that the treatment of the charges against ‘the white men’ was a hollow victory is indeed an understatement. As the wife of Frank Morrison, prepared to present the evidance on his behalf, I am left in a turbulant state with more heartache than before and a lot more questions.

    The behavior and tone of the court was 100% changed from the previous month where Bob Lovelace was sent to jail and crippling fines imposed on himself, his community and other community members. Yet, hundreds of us within the settler group had stood beside our native people in the same peaceful protest stance. So why the difference in treatment? What is this really about? Who are the powers behind the punitive and draconian measures that are being used to decimate those who dare to raise their voices in concern and protest?

    One thing I have learned that is gravely misunderstood by the powers against us – this sledgehammer that is being used to destroy the voices of concern is having exactly the opposite effect. We have a mentality of fairness and justice that has been ingrained over generations; that we have passed on to our children and grandchildren. We will not be silenced by means that may work in other countries where people have not been led to believe that these values are rights equally available to all members of their society. The fact that now we are fighting for the rights that we always believed we had will only empower our resolve and determination.

  3. Ant Bee Says:

    Thanks so much for putting this blog together bud. As you know and people close to this, have come to realize that our collective voices have been suppressed in Canadian main stream meda.
    So what happens when you try to find out the facts of what’s really going on, you get charged with contempt. I never though I would have a title of The Robertsville Six, sounds abit like some cheesy Western move. But unlike some move that you can turn off, you can’t turn this off, its stuck in my mind. Your waking hours and dream time is spent in all consuming turmoil, just trying to get my head around the reality and momentous subject that we are dealing with. Its enormously mind boggling.

    I will be in court on June 2nd along with Bob Lovelace, Paula Sherman and Harold Perry who are all facing a second round of contempt charges, along with my good friend. And when I get to tell my story of how I have committed some sort of crime your not going to know what to do laugh or cry.

    And it bags the question, who or what are we opposing here. Uranium prospecting for the most part, Native rights, human rights, the mining act, yes to all, but the root I believe is with the World Bank, the IMF and the world Trade Organization, that continue on there profit-raping destruction, there self imposed divine right of power. There is know sane responsible individuals at the wheel.

    There all drunk with power, and are heading our Earth ship into the celestial brick wall. There anonymous and unaccountable, and they are in charge of the planet future.

    So what can we do about this. Keep Love in your heart, exercise peace, grow your own organic food and like any good tree hugging hippie would do, is act locally , think globally, and know we are not alone in this.

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