Review By URSULA PFLUG, SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER
May 9, 2009
Paula Sherman was in the news last year when she and fellow professor
Robert Lovelace were arrested for protesting the exploratory drilling
for uranium by Frontenac Ventures Corp. near Sharbot Lake in rural
In the first section of her new book, Dishonour of the Crown: The
Ontario Resource Regime in the valley of the Kiji Sibi, Sherman
describes the events leading up to their arrests as well as the
details of the court cases and the Ardoch position that the province
handing out drilling permits at all was unconstitutional.
In this Sherman is able to aptly provide information with which many
readers may be unfamiliar. One of the central underlying facts in this
story is that the Ontario Mining Act, which, while slated for
revision, allows subsurface exploration under both private and public
The story began in late 2006 when Frank and Gloria Morrison discovered
their land had been staked. After finding a deaf ear in various
departments and levels of government, they turned to the Ardoch
community for help. Thus began a partnership in which private
landowners and their Omamiwinini neighbours fought together, as they
had also done in the 1970s when the province sold important manoomiin
(wild rice) beds to a commercial interest for a pittance, a battle
which was eventually won.
Later sections of the book deal with the potentially harmful effects
of not just mining uranium but exploratory drilling, such as escaped
carcinogenic radon gas from uncapped drill holes. Sherman also
explains the traditional Algonquin responsibility to care for and
protect their land and water, a responsibility grounded not just in
the practical but the spiritual.
In her final section Sherman explains ways in which the two are
culturally inextricable. The larger question of course, is why Ontario
law does not do more to protect our waterways, a finite and precious
resource upon which we all depend.
Sherman's book helps brings such questions to light in a timely
fashion, now that the environment is belatedly of increasing concern
to ordinary Ontarians. After all, the goal of uranium mining is to
provide fuel for reactors, in spite of the fact that the difficulty of
safely containing nuclear is waste is well known.
Sherman's Dishonour of the Crown is an impassioned description of one
community's unfinished battle. It is also an important contribution to
the ongoing debate about the nuclear component of Ontario's new Green
Energy Act and should be read by anyone with an investment in our
Dishonour of the Crown: The Ontario Resource Regime in the Valley of
the Kiji Sibi By Paula Sherman
Foreword by Leanne Simpson Arbeiter Ring Publishing $12.95 88 pp.
Ursula Pflug is a freelance reviewer for The Examiner. Her latest book
is the story collection After The Fires, currently short-listed for an