ONTARIO: Government consultant supports concerns of Grassy Narrows community


18 July 2011
ONTARIO: Government consultant supports
concerns of Grassy Narrows community

 The Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources (MNR) has recently released the results of an independent audit of
the Whiskey Jack Forest, identifying numerous areas of concern in the forest’s
management. The audit is part of a regular monitoring process that tracks how
logging companies are abiding by regulations and produces action plans to
rectify bad practices and poor results. The Ministry of Natural Resources is
engaged in land-use negotiations with Grassy Narrows First Nation (GNFN), whose
traditional territory largely coincides with the Whiskey Jack Forest.

 The report reiterates many of GNFN’s
concerns over the destruction of their territory.  Since 2002, the community has blockaded a road used by logging
trucks. CPT was invited to accompany the blockade, which supports a moratorium
on clear-cut logging on traditional territory. The report, which covers much of
the negotiation period, finds ‘significant issues with management of the
Whiskey Jack Forest, both in planning and in on-the-ground implementation of
the plan’ (page ii).  Its primary
message is that the MNR has not done enough to repair the damage caused by
industrial logging or to help the forest heal.

Grassy Narrows Deputy Chief Randy
Fobister commented, “If you look towards our peaceful blockade, I think
this [audit] justifies it, […] all we’re doing is protecting the land.”  The necessity of this protection is
summed up in the words of Roberta Keesick, trapper, grandmother and blockader:
“Our culture is a land-based culture, and the destruction of the land is
the destruction of our culture.”

 The environmental organisation Earthroots
produced a press
that highlighted some of the report’s areas of concern, including
degradation of wildlife habitat and eradication of some tree species. Since
that press release has gone out, the MNR has published an action plan that it will
need to adopt in order to restore and maintain the health of the forest. More
importantly, the Ministry must remain committed to the process with Grassy
Narrows, respecting the community’s right to say no to logging on their
territory, and be prepared to move forward in genuine partnership.

 The Aboriginal Justice Team (AJT) is
taking two short-term delegations to this area: 12-22 August; and 24
September-5 October. The AJT seeks applicants who are interested in meeting the
defenders of the land, willing to learn about their own role in colonial
history, ready to engage in undoing colonialism, and committed to peacemaking.


 CPT Delegations

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