Province obligated to pay legal costs in dispute

GRASSY NARROWS, Ont.,—The Superior Court of Ontario has ruled in favour of a Grassy Narrows motion obliging the province to pay part of its legal costs in a logging battle.
The Northwestern Ontario community of Grassy Narrows has long complained that decades of logging have poisoned area waters with toxins and all but destroyed their aboriginal way of life.
The community wants Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd. and Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. to stop logging on their traditional lands.
“This type of clear-cut logging has to stop or we, as a community, will risk losing what we have left of our culture, and our local economy,” said band councillor Steve Fobister.
The ruling orders the province to pay Grassy Narrows’ legal costs for part of the community’s claim.
Details of how the order will be enforced are yet to be worked out.
Other questions in the case, such as the extent of the impact of logging on the Grassy Narrows hunters and trappers, will be litigated at a later date.
“We have always seen this logging as a violation of our treaty and human rights,” Chief Simon Fobister said in a statement issued today. “It is destroying a way of life for our people.
“We now have the funds to resolve the issue of whether the Ontario government has the authority to interfere with our hunting and trapping rights by authorizing clear-cut logging on our traditional lands,” he added.
In February, the community sent letters to Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi-Consolidated, accusing them of cultural and environmental devastation.
Weyerhaeuser, which uses hardwood from forests in the area to feed its mill in nearby Kenora, said it takes the concerns stated in the letter seriously.
Bonny Skene, Ontario public affairs manager for Weyerhaeuser Canada, said Montreal-based Abitibi-Consolidated is responsible for managing the forest and does so according to plans sanctioned by the provincial government.
Last fall, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society issued a report that denounced Abitibi for clear-cutting huge tracts land in the region and replanting it with ecologically-barren tree plantations.