Logging plan would deepen the tragedy at Grassy Narrows – by Simon Fobister (Toronto Star – November 3, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Simon Fobister Chief of Grassy Narrows Band

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.

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.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/11/03/logging_plan_would_deepen_the_tragedy_at_grassy_narrows.html