Highway 17 closed due to protest

A hundred Grassy Narrows supporters from across North America have shut down the TransCanada Highway in solidarity with Grassy Narrows’ call to halt clearcut logging by Weyerhaeuser Corp. and Abitibi Consolidated Inc. on their traditional lands in the boreal forest.
Yesterday, supporters erected a 30-foot tall tripod on the highway and perched on the top, while others locked themselves to cement filled oil drums and even the axle of a Weyerhaeuser log truck.
The action stopped log trucks carrying hardwood trees logged on Grassy Narrows traditional territory on their way to the Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist Timberstrand mill in Kenora.
Their banners read “Save Grassy Narrows’ Boreal Forest,” “Wake up Weyerhaeuser, Defend Native Rights, Defend Ancient Forests,” “Freedom for Grassy Narrows; No logging without consent.”
For over a decade Grassy Narrows has been working to end clearcut logging on their Traditional Territory. The Ontario McGuinty government, Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi failed to respond to years of official complaints, environmental assessment requests, negotiations, and public protest which gave rise to a blockade that has continued for more than three years.
This action by the Rainforest Action Network, Grassy Narrows community members, supporters from other Native communities, and other supporters of social and ecological justice from across North America marks the latest development in the growing international response to a call to action issued by Grassy Narrows community leaders in late February, 2006.
“Weyerhaeuser is destroying an ancient way of life and an ecosystem vital to our plant’s health while the McGuinty government fails to act to resolve this crisis,” said David Sone, an Organizer for Rainforest Action Network’s Old Growth campaign.
“We stand proudly with the people of Grassy Narrows and will continue to help protect the Boreal Forest and defend their Traditional Territory,” he added.
“The clear-cutting of the land is an attack on our people,” said Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows blockader, grandmother and trapper.
“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,” she added.
Last month, the Superior Court of Ontario ordered the province to pay legal costs associated with a lawsuit challenging clear-cut logging on the community’s traditional lands.
However, proceedings for the three-year-old legal action will not be heard until late 2008.
Meanwhile, clearcutting continues unabated. In a recent submission to the United Nations, Amnesty International argued that current logging on Grassy Narrows’ traditional land violates the community’s indigenous rights to self-determination and culture and fails to meet international standards of “free prior and informed consent” for development on traditional Indigenous lands.