Supporters converge to end clear-cut logging

More than 100 supporters from across Canada and the United States will arrive in Grassy Narrows, Ontario today for a week-long Earth Justice Gathering to demand respect for Indigenous rights and protection for the endangered Boreal Forest.
Throughout the week, Grassy Narrows First Nation community leaders and environmental and social justice activists will intensify their call for an end to clear-cut logging without consent on Grassy Narrows Traditional Territory.
The weeklong event will feature a tour of a recently clear-cut area, sweat lodge ceremonies, traditional feasts, non-violent direct action trainings, and speeches by Grassy Narrows community members and other First Nations leaders.
“Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi are destroying an ancient way of life and an ecosystem vital to our planet’s health while the McGuinty government fails to act to resolve this crisis,” said Brant Olson, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Old Growth campaign.
“We’re working with banks and buyers to stand with the people of Grassy Narrows and send a wake up call,” he added.
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 Earth Justice Gathering marks the latest development in the growing international response to a call to action issued by Grassy Narrows community leaders in late Feb., 2006.
“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, clear-cutting 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.
“There is a crisis of neglect and mismanagement brewing across Ontario’s Boreal Forest,” said Leah Henderson, Boreal Forest Campaigner for ForestEthics. “We are here to support Grassy Narrows and to call on Weyerhaeuser and the McGuinty government to ensure this community’s rights and title are honored and respected.”
For more information on the Earth Justice Gathering, visit http://www.FreeGrassy.org and www.WheresMcGuinty.ca

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