Friday, 19 August 2011

Grassy Narrows First Nation Wins Anti-Logging Court Case

(For the history of this case, see our previous post 7 Aug 2011). The Grassy Narrows First Nation (Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek) has just won its court case in Ontario, after 11 years. This is a landmark in the right to FPIC ("free prior and informed consent" in UNDRIP, which Canada has been doing its best to sabotage). The following news is cross-posted from the native network Indian Country Today.
photo: Schledewitz, via Grassy Narrows First Nation
In a lengthy decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary-Anne Sanderson ruled that the province of Ontario, which had authorized logging on the lands, had overstepped its bounds. Logging and mining rights, she explained, are established by treaty and therefore a federal and not provincial issue. In a triumphant press release, Chief Simon Fobister said that the decision ultimately “will require protecting the way of life of the Anishinaabe who were here before the logging industry came to these lands and will be here after the logging companies have moved on to other forests.”

An article in the Globe and Mail paraphrased the insights of Robert Janes, the lawyer for the Grassy Narrows First Nation, who said Justice Sanderson conceded that “the federal government promised to defend their rights, but hasn’t done so for many years.” Janes also said the ruling would have repercussions for numerous other cases in Canada.

Grassy Narrows activists have been actively and successfully blockading Slant Lake against logging trucks since December 2, 2002; an article from March of this year at said the blockade is one of the longest-running in Canadian history, and that Amnesty International has taken up the Grassy Narrows cause with the provincial government.
See also:
-- video by Jennifer Preston of CFSC explaining her 20-year involvement in UNDRIP and FPIC, what they mean to Quakers and native peoples. This is the best analysis I know. It will soon be posted on the CFSC website with other key documents.
-- web archives of native groups' testimony at the 16th Protecting Mother Earth Gathering (July 2011); and of UN hearings on UNDRIP and FPIC
-- The Mining Mini-grants Program of Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and Western Mining Action Network (WMAN) to assure that mining projects do not adversely affect human, cultural, and ecological health of native communities in the U.S. and Canada.

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