CBC: Bill C-51 – First Nation chief warns labour activists about jail time

RCMP spied on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Chief Donny Morris during
2008 mining dispute
By Jody Porter, CBC News

A First Nation leader, who went to jail defending his community’s
traditional territory in northern Ontario, is warning other activists
about the risks of government spying posed by Bill C-51.

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Chief Donny Morris already has the
documents to show that the RCMP and government officials were spying on
his community during a mining dispute in 2008.

He filed an access to information request on Thursday to discover the
extent of the surveillance and called on other First Nations to do the same.

“Eventually if you’re categorized as a terrorist, you’re going to be
spending the rest of your life in prison and for myself, spending time
in jail for our action, I didn’t really appreciated that,” Morris told
CBC News. “It was humilating.”

Morris and five other leaders of Kitchenuymaykoosib Inninuwug were
jailed for more than two months for protesting against a mining company
operating on the community’s traditional lands. The Court of Appeal
eventually ordered their release and Ontario bought out the company’s
claims in the area.

‘Am I going to be allowed to travel?’

The experience has left Morris wary of government powers and worried
about travelling outside his remote community, 600 kilometres north of
Thunder Bay.

“I always am afraid that my phone is tapped,” he said. “At times I feel
for my safety. Going through airports, if I have to go through security,
am I going to be allowed to travel? I feel threatened too.”

Despite his fears, Morris decided to accept an invitation to speak about
his experience and his concerns in Toronto on Thursday, during a forum
on Bill C-51. People need to know that just because their actions are
peaceful, they are not immune to government spying, he said.

RCMP report on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug protest
An excerpt of an RCMP document obtained through access to information
requests shows the police were keeping tabs on Kitchenuhmaykoosib, and
that they were aware of the peaceful nature of the protest. (CBC)

“To co-exist in peaceful harmony as our elders taught us, that’s the
thing that leads us most,” Morris said. “We don’t go out blocking roads
or burning things up. We are peaceful.”

Last month Morris wrote a letter to his MP, Natural Resources Minister
Greg Rickford, asking him to withdraw his support for Bill C-51.

“The legislation is clear: our security agencies can only target those
who pose a risk to Canada, and not those engaged in legitimate dissent,”
a spokesperson for Rickford told CBC News in an email at the time.

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