• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Logging plan would deepen the tragedy at Grassy Narrows

In Indigenous
Nov 3rd, 2013
Whiskey Jack Forest

Forty years ago, Ontario devastated the community of Grassy Narrows by dumping mercury into its river system. If the province goes ahead with its logging plan, it will do it again
By:Simon Fobister Toronto Star   Nov 03 2013
Premier Kathleen Wynne came to our community in the summer of 2012 and said she wanted to rebuild Ontario’s relationship with Grassy Narrows. She said that this time she wanted to “get it right.” Instead, her officials have continued to unilaterally pursue clearcut logging plans for our homeland.
These plans were and continue to be developed without our participation, knowledge and consent. We are frustrated that these processes are conducted entirely outside of the five-year-long process we have undertaken in good faith with Ontario to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to these issues.
The Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief and Council reject the Forest Management Plan for the Whiskey Jack 2012-2022 on the basis of the failure to consult and the infringement on our aboriginal and treaty rights
This document attempts to make plans to clearcut log the lands that we use for our physical, spiritual and cultural survival. We cannot allow this.
Ontario has a long and terrible legacy of imposing decisions on our people and our lands against our will and without consent. The theft of our children to residential schools, the damming of our river, the relocation of our community, mercury poisoning and clearcut logging have all taken a deep toll on our health, our culture and our way of life.
The logging plan sets out a schedule to clearcut much of what little mature forest remains on our territory after decades of large-scale industrial logging. This would further erode our ability to sustain our families and to practise our culture through fishing, hunting, trapping, medicine harvesting, ceremony and healing.
We do not accept any application of this plan to our traditional lands. The chief and council, along with community Elders, stand united on this issue and are determined to protect the community’s way of life.
You are fully aware that our community continues to struggle with the devastating health impacts from 9,000 kilograms of mercury that was dumped into our river system in the 1960s with the permission of the government of Ontario. Three generations of our people bear the burden of this degenerative neurological poison.
New clearcut logging will bring even more mercury into our river and our food chain, further prolonging and exacerbating this avoidable tragedy. We condemn such processes and plans.
We have been repeatedly told that Ontario cannot undo what was done over 40 years ago, but we are deeply concerned that Ontario wishes to repeat further degradation to Grassy Narrows. It is now within your power to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated at the expense of another generation of Grassy Narrows children.
For centuries we have raised our voices to protect our rights and our land. But Ontario and Canada continue to ignore us with devastating consequences for our people and our land. This plan is a violation of our inherent human rights given to us by the Creator, as well as our rights as recognized by Treaty 3, the Constitution of Canada, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We call on you to ensure that never again will Ontario attempt to force decisions on our people and our lands.
What will your legacy be?
Simon Fobister is Chief of the Grassy Narrows band in northwestern Ontario.

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