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Sacred fire at Queen's Park marks 10 years of the Grassy Narrows logging blockade

December 2, 2012

Toronto, ON - Today, December 2, Grassy Narrows Blockaders and their supporters are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of what is now the longest running Indigenous logging blockade in Canada. Supporters in Toronto will light a sacred fire at the provincial legislature at 2 p.m., one of 25 coordinated events happening in cities across North America to celebrate this major milestone in the fight for Indigenous land rights and environmental justice. Grassy Narrows blockaders are holding a pipe ceremony in a new long house built at the Slant Lake blockade site where grassroots youth,
mothers, and land users have denied passage to logging trucks seeking access to community's territory for the past decade.

“Grassy Narrows is leading the way towards respect for Indigenous land rights and defending the forests that provide clean air, fresh water, and a more stable climate for all of us,” said Leah Henderson of Earth Justice Action, a Toronto based group that supports Indigenous land defence.
“People across the continent are inspired by what the Grassy Narrows blockade has accomplished, and we join with them as they protect their forests, their health, and their culture.”

On December 2, 2002 in the depth of winter Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) people put their bodies in the path of industrial machinery to stop logging in their territory, protect their culture, and safeguard their children's future. Against all odds the community has now stopped logging trucks from passing for 10 full years and has gained commitments from logging companies Resolute (formerly AbitibiBowater), Boise, Domtar, and Ainsworth to respect their right to say 'no' to logging.

But U.S. Lumber giant Weyerheauser continues to seek access to Grassy Narrows' territory against their will, and Ontario has released a 10 year logging plan that includes dozens of clearcuts in the forest on which Grassy Narrows people depend.

Massive industrial logging operations by some of the world's largest lumber and paper companies have degraded much of the forest that Grassy Narrows people depend on for food, culture, and livelihood. Logging practices and industrial waste have also poisoned Grassy Narrows' river
with mercury, a potent neurotoxin that has taken a devastating toll on the health and livelihood of three generations of Grassy Narrows people. The logging and associated mercury poisoning compound the trauma of hydro damming, coerced relocation, and residential schools in Grassy Narrows.

“When we go out to protect the land in minus 42 degree weather we are following instincts that are like teachings from our ancestors,” explained Grassy Narrows mother and blockader Judy Da Silva. “We are defending the source of life for all people.”

For more information contact:
Grassy Narrows Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek

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