Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek
Grassy Narrows First Nation
Protecting Traditional Lands
2010 Update Here!
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DocumentaryThe Scars of Mercury
Dr. Harada's Visit To Canada-Mercury Poisoning's Notes
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Grassy Narrows Wins!
An end to clear-cut logging on traditional territory
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How an Indigenous Community Defeated a Logging Giant
(Chief) "Fobister is optimistic that management principles can be developed that would prohibit clear-cutting, protect trapping, hunting and other traditional values and possibly foster selective harvesting for community-run enterprises such as producing log cabins and snowshoes."
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Grassy Narrows signs MOU with Ontario
to start negotiations on forest management
The law of the land:
Amnesty International Canada's position
on the conflict over logging at Grassy Narrows
Grassy Narrows Declares Moratorium(.pdf file)
January 17, 2007
Grassy Narrows and Toxic Chemicals
Impacts of Pesticides
Activist at Trans Canada Highway Blockade - July 2006
Click on Photo to See Much Larger Image
Grassy Narrows First Nation Gains More Support
to Halt Unauthorized Logging on It Traditional Lands
News and Comment
Bob Kennedy, Oneida
Turtle Island Native Network
April 3, 2006
It looks like it is going to be a hot summer in Grassy Narrows in Northwest Ontario - because logging companies Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi are clear-cut logging their ancestral land without the community's consent.
In July, activists from across Canada and the United States are planning to arrive at Grassy Narrows to, - -participate in a week-long gathering and mass action. The goal of the gathering,"is to connect with other activists, and support Grassy Narrows' struggle to kick Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi off their land," according to the Rainforest Action Network that is organizing support.
On December 2nd, 2002, Grassy Narrows established a blockade on a logging road in their territory, sparking the longest standing and highest profile indigenous logging blockade in Canadian history. "In recent months, Grassy Narrows has linked up with powerful non profit groups, including Rainforest Action Network and Amnesty International Canada, and are quickly escalating the campaign into the international scandal it deserves to be."
Rainforest Action Network is helping to establish a Grassy Narrows solidarity network and boycott campaign - they have set up a website at freegrassy.org and are directing activists to boycott products that come Grassy Narrows land, including Xerox copy paper and Trus Joist building materials.- - - - - - -
Grassy Narrows Warns Weyerhaeuser:'Withdraw or Face Fierce Campaign'
Cease and Desist All Logging and Industrial Resource Extraction on Our Territory . . .
"If you choose to continue engaging in, or profiting from, the destruction of our homeland,
know that you will face a firece campaign on all fronts in the woods, in the streets, in the marketplace, in your boardrooms, and in the media . . .
We are prepared to take all necessary actions to protect our homeland from further desecration."
READ THE LETTER
Note: This is a .pdf file
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For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2006
Grassy Narrows, Ontario- The Grassy Narrows First Nation today sent letters warning the chief executives of Weyerhaeuser (NYSE: WY) and Abitibi-Consolidated to "immediately cease and desist from all logging and industrial resource extraction on our territory" or face a "fierce international campaign".
The letter follows a decade of failed negotiations, lawsuits, environmental assessment requests, public protests, and a 3-year logging blockade. The letter asserts that decades of unsustainable logging has "poisoned our waters with mercury and other toxins, nearly eliminated our ability to practice our way of life, and robbed us of economic opportunities."
The letter includes an SOS to the international environmental and human rights community to stand with Grassy Narrows in their demands and expand the struggle in the woods, in the streets and in the market place.
American Dream: First Nation's Nightmare
In the 1990s Weyerhaeuser fiber-supplier Abitibi dramatically increased logging rates in Grassy Narrows without the consent or proper consultation of the community. According to a report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Abitibi cut almost all of the remaining endangered woodland caribou habitat between 1999 and 2004 and regularly clear-cuts huge tracts of land, sprays the land with pesticides, and replants with monoculture tree plantations.
According to plans filed with the Ontario Ministry of Forests in 2003, Abitibi-Consolidated and Weyerhaeuser will continue their clear-cut logging operations within the community's traditional territory through at least 2009, and have requested an extension to log through 2024.
Nearly half of this wood will supply Weyerhaeuser's Trus Joist/ Timberstrand mill and will be used widely by American homebuilders, the US building industry and by Weyerhaeuser's own home-building subsidiaries to build American tract homes in suburbs throughout the US.
Most of the remaining wood taken from Grassy Narrows territory is used by Abitibi-Consolidated to manufacture Abitibi paper products. Abitibi newsprint is used for hundreds of newspapers including the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Grassy Narrows First Nation
The people of Grassy Narrows First Nation have lived on 2,500 square miles of land north of Kenora, Ontario for thousands of years. Nearly 50% of the community still sustain themselves from the land by hunting, trapping, and gathering medicine and berries. The old-growth habitat provided by these areas also support animal species like the pine martin and woodland caribou critical to the ecological integrity of the area.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763, Treaty #3, and the Canadian Constitution all outline the rights of indigenous people to their traditional lands. An ongoing lawsuit between the members of Grassy Narrows First Nation, the Minister of Natural Resources and Abitibi-Consolidated claims that the community was not properly consulted or compensated by the company, and that Abitibi's clear-cut practices are making it impossible for the people of Grassy Narrows to exercise their Treaty 3 right to hunt and trap on their traditional territory. The lawsuit, if successful, would revoke all current cutting rights on Grassy Narrows land north of the English river.
"The clear-cutting of the land, and the destruction of the forest is an attack on our people," says Roberta Kessik, Grassy Narrows' blockader, grandmother, and trapper. "The land is the basis of who we are. Our culture is a land based culture and the destruction of the land is the destruction of our culture. And we know that is in the plans. Weyerhaeuser doesn't want us on the land, they want us out of the way so they can take the resources. We can't allow them to carry on with this cultural genocide."
"For years now, we have attempted to voice our concerns within this process with very little constructive response or progress towards desired benefits for the trappers," explains Gabriel Fobister, Head of Grassy Narrows Trappers' Council. "All we have seen is the demise of our way of life which disappears every time more cutting areas are extended to Abitibi and Weyerhaeuser. In despair our trappers are ending up in the streets in the cities to become homeless people and living off the soup lines."
"The government and the logging industry have conspired to destroy much of what we hold sacred," says Joseph B Fobister, Grassy Narrows business owner and community leader. "Our traditional values and culture are suffering and are headed towards extinction. This land and the forests that are an integral part of it have sustained our people for time immemorial. We watch as they disappear on the backs of logging trucks to paper mills all over the continent.
We do not have more to give. We are left to deal with the environmental and sociological nightmare left behind following tree harvesting. Most of our trap lines have been decimated along with the old growth forests. A way of life disappears with these forests. This way of life does not grow back. Tree planters cannot replace it. Yet the government and corporations show no interest in correcting unsustainable economic growth. We are not against economic development; we simply realize that it should not be considered an end unto itself.
We have participated fully in planning for many years and our concerns are never properly considered. We are never treated as equal partners in the process. What's worse, our attendance at the information sessions and open houses is misconstrued as participation or approval."
For more information visit http://www.FriendsofGrassyNarrows.com or http://www.WakeUpWeyco.com
Contact: Brianna Cayo Cotter, (415) 305-1943
Grassy Narrows First Nation
Standing Their Ground
Treaties, trees and sharing
Report from the Grassy Narrows blockade
Joe Fobister and his grandson in a homeland ravaged by clearcutting
Photo by Jennifer deGroot
Youth at the Grassy Narrows blockade site
Photo courtesy of Christian Peacemaker Teams
Forest advocates revised the bottom line of this sign near Grassy Narrows so it would reflect what they see as the main threat to the forest. Photo courtesy of Christian Peacemaker Teams
Asubpeeschoseewagong - the Ojibway name for Grassy Narrows is situated 80 kilometers north of Kenora, Ontario. The band membership is approximately 1,000 with an on reserve population of approximately 700. The community’s TRADITIONAL LAND USE AREA spans 2,500 square miles outside the reserve’s 14 square miles.
The Anishnabek of Asubpeeschoseewagong have been through many traumas including relocation, mercury contamination, flooding of our sacred grounds, residential schools, clear-cutting of trees which have led to many social, health and economic problems as well as the devastation of the Ojibway culture.
BACKGROUND ON ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVITIES
Recently community members have started to take a stand against clear-cutting and other environmental issues such as the Silver Lake site, nuclear and mining. These activities started more than a couple years ago by band members attending various information conferences, workshops and speaking engagements in Montana(1997), Ottawa(1997), Saskatchewan(1998) and Thunder Bay(1996). As well, Asubpeeschoseewagong held an Environmental Gathering in April 1998.
EFFECTS ON CLEAR CUTTING ON OUR LAND & PEOPLE
We are a community increasingly surrounded by huge clear-cut areas of former forest. This is taking place within the GRASSY NARROWS TRADITIONAL LAND USE AREA. The soon to be approved plan for the next 5 years calls for even more of this type of resource extraction to take place within our territory. This is comparable in every way to the massive resource exploitation, cultural genocide and oppression which took place in the Amazon Basin during the 1980s.
The cutting has been happening in our area since 1950s and this activity has accelerated from the 1990s in a more destructive way.
EFFECTS OF CLEAR-CUTTING ON KENORA
From the 1980s the modernization of the mill involved the use of machinery versus people and therefore half the jobs were lost. The current movement of the mill continues towards the use of machinery and not human labor. The environment and the life in the land does not appear to be the priority of the Mill but to make a quick profit. This has been the legacy of any multi-national corporation.
Clear- cutting infringes not only economically on the people in Kenora but also on their ability to enjoy the pleasures of the forest such as blueberry picking, hunting, fishing, hiking and camping.
WHY ARE WE AGAINST CLEAR-CUTTING?
We, as Aboriginal People have a legitimate claim to use our Traditional Land Use Area for the continuation of our land based culture. We are merely trying to save the last few patches of the old growth forest . These last few patches hold small pieces of our history, our culture and our medicines which can never be replaced or replicated.
As First Nations our Aboriginal Rights are protected under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and were confirmed and further protected by Treaty #3 which was ratified by our Forefathers.
As First Nations our Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights are protected under s.25 and recognized and affirmed under s.35 the Constitution Act of 1982.
The principles laid forth by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgammukw decision apply to our traditional lands and territories and waterways
Environmental Devastation at Grassy Narrows First Nation
We are located approximately 80 kms north of Kenora, Ontario close to the Manitoba Border (nw Ont.). Our band membership is over 1000 people with 700 people living on reserve. In addition we have about 100 non-band members that live and work in our community (teachers, police officers, etc.) The population is comprised of 70% youth and children.
Our Traditional Land Use Area is in excess of 4000 square kms and is known as a Boreal Forest on the Precambrian Shield. We are surrounded by many lakes and rivers and the water flows to the Hudson Bay. The forest is abundant with different types of wildlife: moose, deer, martens, rabbits, beaver, foxes, wolves, bears, eagles, and various birds. There are also many medicinal plants known and used by our people: treatments for diabetes, heart, sterility, skin problems and for many other ailments.
As Bernard Abraham President of Weskit-Chi Aboriginal Trappers Association wrote: "For the Aboriginals, the forest was their food bank, the drugstore, the meat market, the bakery, the fruit and vegetable stand, the building material centre, the beverage supply, and the habitat for all of the the CREATOR'S CREATURES."
History of Environment Devastation:
In 1972 we were shocked to find out that our fresh water was contaminated with mercury that was dumped from a paper mill 320 kms upstream. We have lived with the negative effects since then: Mercury poisoning which has produced various health problems, loss of traditional food and harvesting, and the loss of commercial fishing, and the loss of self esteem within the family circle. Grassy Narrows received compensation in the 1980's from the Reed Paper Company and the Federal government.
Our community suffered yet another upheaval as a result of flooding by Ontario Hydro. Our burial grounds and sacred sites were devastated, not to mention our wild rice fields. Our community had to contend with disarray as the water fluctuated to historical proportions and caused damage that can never be recovered.
Our community was relocated in the early 1960s by Indian Affairs, apparently to allow us better access to the nearest town, Kenora, and to benefit from what it has to offer. This in itself was a cause for trauma to our people. It displaced them and disoriented them for easier assimilation to the white society. Most of our youth and children now speak only english.
These experiences we consider to be genocidal are common to First Nations, as was the residential school experience.
Our community is increasingly surrounded by clear cuts and despite our plight to stop clear cutting activities, we are not being heard. This issue has been ongoing as far back as late 1993. Associated with the actual impact of removing the trees are the other effects such as oil spills, garbage, use of herbicides, etc. Also hundreds of trees are commonly cut, piled and abandoned.
During maintenance on the machines that are used (skidders, tractors, and feller-bunchers) the old engine oil is apparently routinely dumped onto the ground. This could be several litres at a time. Often a discarded oil filter can be seen nearby.
The piles of abandoned trees are observed to be poplar and ash, some up to 2 feet in diameter. When pressed by us in regards to these issues, Abitibi tells us that they are doing ther best to stop it. The Ministry of Natural Resources tells us that they are powerless to stop it. Meanwhile the environmental degradation carries on.....
Attempts to stop this destruction is made more difficult because of the use of massive propaganda by Abitibi Consolidated Corporation. Recently Abitibi sent generic letters to many school children here inGrassy praising themselves and their role in forestry. This letter was misleading and insulting to Aboriginal People. Abitibi claimed to possess a spiritual tie to the land. To give further insult to our plight, the Kenora area has been designated as the Forest Capital of Canada, which totally undermines the efforts we have made to protest the massive clearcutting on our Traditional Land Use Area.
The issue of the 1990's is the further erosion of our culture by eradication of the last remaining areas of old growth forests within our Traditional Land Use Area. This area lies outside of our 14 square mile reserve. It has sustained us and our culture for thousands of years. The liquidation of the forest will restrict our culture and traditional activities and even eliminate many aspects of it (berry picking, hunting, trapping, medicine gathering).
To close off, there is possible nuclear waste dumping that might be occuring in the near future in our area because of our remoteness and lack of thought and concern from huge multinational companies and the governments.
So we appeal to you, as fellow concerned citizens of our planet, for your help in any of the following ways:
1) Donations to put towards a court injunction that will cost us a minimum of $45,000.00, and this does not include legal fees.
2) Write letters to the members of Parliament on our behalf.
3) Donations to put towards travel for a member of Grassy Narrows to enable us to bring forth the issues we have mentioned to other concerned environmentalists.
4) We request the delegates to spread the message we have given today of the plight of our Community.
5) To support us in our future efforts including; protests, boycotts or any other means necessary, in any way you can.
OUR CONCERNS ARE FOR THE HEALTH OF THE PLANET AND THE SURVIVAL OF OUR CULTURE.
GRASSY NARROWS FIRST NATION
GRASSY NARROWS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP
GRASSY NARROWS, ONTARIO
PHONE: 807 - 925 - 2201
TOLL FREE: 800 - 668 - 1790
FAX: 807- 925- 2649
GRASSY NARROWS, ONTARIO
PHONE (807) 925-2201
FAX (807) 925-2649
Traditional Land Use Boundaries Asserted..Grassy Narrows to Post All Access Roads.
Grassy Narrows, Ontario, Canada) Grassy Narrows First Nation has begun posting signs throughout its traditional land use area consists of 2,000 square miles within the 55,000 square miles of treaty #3. The protection of resources on their ancestral lands has become urgent. Access to those lands is being denied. The community is painting signs declaring its land rights and giving notice it will assert its traditional interests.
"The clear cutting going on is ruining the land everyday. The aerial spraying stops us as native people from picking blueberries as well as other damages," said Chief Bill Fobister. "We need to take action on our own now."
The community will post signs on every access road leading into its traditional territory. "Those signs will mostly let people know where they are. The signs will tell people to enjoy the country. The signs will tell them to treat the land with respect," Fobister added.
The community is feeling insecure about its land use future. The Lands for Life process barely mentions the First nation physical and legal fact. The Federal Government "An agenda for action with First Nations" place lands and resources on a list once again. This after Gvecin, sparrow, degamuukw and RCAP have set a course for action that requires practical imiplemntation.
"The big industrial companies are the ones getting the support and benefit. The government restricts ordinary people and First Nations more and more. We, as the native people, live closest to the land. Our communities are first and most affected". Fobister said.
We have the least leverage because everyone just ignores us. These traditional land use area signs are a reminder we are here. We will not be forgotten or left out or abused much longer." Fobister concluded.
The reserve of 1200 people live down stream from a pulp mill. The community is surrounded by clear cuts. Each sector of a once self sustaining economy has been destroyed by the actions taken for other people's interest. The traditional land area signs are signs of the times. The people of Grassy Narrows will take responsibility for their lands and act proactively and positively. The whack of hammers, the odour of paint, the words on plywood are signs of new stage in the struggle for survival of a land based people.
Chief William Fobister
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