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Mine protesters take fight to Ottawa

Kingston Whig Standard: Ian Elliot - September 28

A group of local natives is canoeing from Ardoch to Ottawa to raise awareness of their campaign against a proposed uranium exploration venture north of Sharbot Lake.

Randy Cota, a chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, which is one of the non-status native bands fighting a company that wants to carry out exploration in the area, said the flotilla will end its journey on Parliament Hill today, where supporters will hold a rally.

At that time, a Mason jar holding water that was filled at Ardoch and symbolizes the threat of pollution, will be poured onto the ground.

"That's what we really want people to realize, that this isn't just an aboriginal issue," he said from the outskirts of Ottawa after finishing paddling for the day.

"If anything goes into the river at Ardoch, it's in Ottawa's water four days later."

Cota said the core group of paddlers consisted of six canoes flying traditional Aboriginal and wampum flags, but they were joined by other canoeists at various times during their week-long journey.

The Mississippi River is the group's historic water trading route and he said it was symbolic that they were retracing that route in their traditional craft, which they will bring out of the water and up to Parliament Hill this morning for the rally.

"This is the same route our people used to travel," Cota said.

Last night, the protesters held a ceremony at which a document demanding a moratorium on uranium mining was signed by native leaders.

A copy of the moratorium will be delivered to both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, whose riding is in Ottawa.

The two politicians will also get containers of the Ardoch water.

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