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Ontario Government offers Support to Grassy Narrows


May 1, 2008
By Pulp & Paper Canada

SAN FRANCISCO -The province of Ontario announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Grassy Narrows First Nation May 12 that is being presented as an important first step toward sustainable, …

SAN FRANCISCO -The province of Ontario announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Grassy Narrows First Nation May 12 that is being presented as an important first step toward sustainable, community-led protection and management of the forest that comprises much of the Grassy Narrows traditional territory. The MOU establishes a pilot program in community-led land use planning and is the initial result of negotiations begun in September 2007 between provincial negotiator Frank Iacobucci, a former Canadian Supreme Court justice, and the Grassy Narrows community.

Grassy Narrows Chief and Council welcomed the development but emphasized that the community’s demand for a moratorium on all industrial activity occurring on its territory still stands. In a news release, Grassy Narrows underscored that “this new MOU in no way signifies consent to ongoing clear-cutting in its traditional territory.” Rainforest Action Network (RAN) will continue to pressure companies that source wood from Grassy Narrows without consent.

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“We’re pleased to see the government of Ontario committing to better relations with Grassy Narrows,” said David Sone of RAN’s Old Growth Campaign. “But Grassy Narrows leaders have made clear that the community has not consented to logging or other industrial activity on its territory.”

RAN will continue to work with the Grassy Narrows First Nation to expose companies like Weyerhaeuser that continue to violate Grassy Narrows’ human rights by logging from their traditional territory without consent.”

The Grassy Narrows community’s longstanding opposition to clear-cut logging on its territory in the Whiskey Jack Forest has been a flashpoint in the burgeoning Native land rights movement in Canada. The territory is presently being logged by AbitibiBowater Inc. under contract of U. S. lumber giant Weyerhaeuser Corp. in violation of the First Nation’s constitutional and treaty rights to preserve the land for traditional uses such as hunting and fishing. Amnesty International has condemned the logging as a human rights violation.

In February, Boise Inc., a major purchaser of wood from Grassy Narrows traditional territory, notified Abitibi- Bowater that it would cease purchasing wood fiber logged from Grassy Narrows land without the community’s consent.

RAN has been collaborating since 2003 with the Grassy Narrows First Nation, which filed suit to stop logging in 2000 and began an ongoing peaceful blockade of a logging road in 2002. In January 2007, the community called for a moratorium on all industrial uses of its land occurring without its free, prior and informed consent. This right has been clearly established in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Grassy Narrows activists recently embarked on a 2,000-kilometer walk to Toronto to participate in a four-day Gathering of Mother Earth Protectors on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature. The gathering will begin May 26 and conclude on the May 29 National Aboriginal Day of Action.

Rainforest Action Network, a public relations action group, describes its mandate: as leading campaigns “to break America’s oil addiction, reduce our reliance on coal, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action.”

For more information, contact: Cameron Scott, 415.659.0541


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