Thursday, July 27, 2006


Demanding a moratorium on the clear cut logging on traditional lands, Grassy Narrows First Nation has teamed up with environmental groups to shut down traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Miner and News reports the blocaders are fighting clear-cutting by both Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi Consolidated Inc., a cause which they have been protesting against for many years.

“We’re here to draw attention to the fact that Grassy Narrows has held a blockade that’s been ignored by the government,” said Leah Henderson, a media contact on-site at the highway from the Rainforest Action Network. “We think it was time to give some attention to the Grassy Narrows struggle."

"The clear-cutting of the land is an attack on our people," said Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows blockader and grandmother. "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. Weyerhaeuser and the McGuinty government don'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."

Adds Joe Fobister, a Grassy Narrows spokesman, "We just want them to get out of our territory. They've done so much damage to our territory, we can't afford to see any more of that land destroyed."

For more than a decade, the Grassy Narrows community has struggled to end clear-cut logging on their traditional land. Government and industry have failed to respond to years of official complaints, environmental assessment requests, negotiations, and public protests which gave rise to a blockade that has kept logging trucks off highway 671 for more than three years.

The following is from the CNW Group (Canada).

Boreal Crisis Grows - 9 More Arrested for Defending Grassy Narrows Traditional Territory from Clear-cut Logging

KENORA, ON, July 27 /CNW/ - Last night, Ontario Provincial Police
officers arrested Chrissy Swain, member of the Grassy Narrows First Nation,
and 8 supporters on English River Road. The group had been blocking trucks
hauling logs to Weyerhaeuser's TrusJoist mill in Kenora since Tuesday
afternoon to demand a moratorium on clear cut logging within the community's
Traditional Territory. The nine were charged with mischief and released early
this morning on the condition that they leave Kenora within 24 hours.

The arrests marked the first time ever that a member of the First Nation
community has been arrested for defending its Traditional Territory from

"Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi are destroying our people by logging our Boreal
Forest," said Chrissy Swain, a young Grassy Narrows mother from the blockade
site. "We've been passive for too long while we've suffered from the impacts
of industrial logging. Our people are sick and we can't afford to allow this
anymore. We are standing up to protect our land and our children's future."

The English River blockade is the second protest by the Grassy Narrows
community in as many weeks and the latest development in a decade long
campaign to end logging without the native community's consent.

Last Thursday, July 13th, over 80 supporters blocked traffic on the
Transcanada Highway. The following day, Ontario Provicial Police officers
established checkpoints on Highway 671, arresting 9 allegedly involved in the
protest. Supporters criticized the OPP for jailing and interrogating people of
color including several First Nations individuals, while Caucasians among the
arrestees were released with a citation. Hearings in the case will take place
Sept 18th in Kenora.

"It is obscene that the Ontario government is arresting peaceful
protestors and allowing Abitibi and Weyerhaeuser to continue destroying the
land and way of life of the Grassy Narrows people," says David Sone, organizer
with the Rainforest Action Network and one of the individuals arrested
Wednesday night. "I now am part of a long and proud history of people who
stood up for what was right and just during a time that government refused to
respect human rights."

"The forest should be protected," said Steve Fobister, Councilor in
charge of Forests Portfolio for the Grassy Narrows Council. "Whatever trees we
have left should remain for our purposes and our survival as a people. For
over a century we have shared the land, but Abitibi and Weyerhaeuser have
abused our generosity for too long. The Provincial government must stop
abusing our human rights by destroying the Boreal Forest that we depend on."

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