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Grassy Narrows’ fight for rights and against clearcut logging continues despite legal setback at Supreme Court

July 11, 2014

Grassy Narrows - The leadership and members of Grassy Narrows are disappointed by today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision refusing to recognize the special role that the federal government has in protecting our Treaty 3 from provincial and corporate actions. Despite this result Grassy Narrows will continue our fight to protect our lands and our people.

Grassy Narrows is deeply committed to protecting the way of life of our people, upholding the rights guaranteed in Treaty 3 and providing a bright future for our members and we will continue to resist the expansion of unsustainable industrial logging in our territory. Chief Roger Fobister said:
“While we hoped the Supreme Court of Canada would respect our treaty, we are determined to see Treaty 3 respected. We expect the Government of Ontario and Canada to learn from the last ten years and come to the table ready to deal with the real needs of our people which requires ensuring a sustainable future both environmentally and economically.”

J.B. Fobister, a Grassy Narrows hunter who helped initiate the case, said:
“This has been a long fight and while we are disappointed in today’s outcome we will be continuing to fight to protect the health, welfare and culture of the people of Grassy Narrows using all the tools available to us. We believe Ontario and industry are morally and politically obliged to seek our consent before logging our lands. Our people will ensure that the government, public, corporations, and courts never forget the terrible effect that industrial logging has had on the health and welfare of our people.”

Grassy Narrows will study the result and determine what further steps need to be taken in the coming weeks.

Quick Facts Grassy Narrows’ Supreme Court Case

What was this case about?
Grassy Narrows argued that Ontario has no jurisdiction over logging on our Territory due to promises made by Canada in Treaty 3 and the constitution.

What did the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) rule?

The SCC ruled that Ontario is allowed to exercise the rights and responsibilities that Canada has under the Treaty. This decision was limited to differentiating between the jurisdiction of Canada vs. Ontario. The SCC did not rule on whether clearcut logging violates our Treaty rights, or on whether the government has met its responsibilities under the treaty.

Is this a green light from the SCC for clearcut logging in Grassy Narrows?

No. The SCC still requires that Ontario fulfill the duty to meaningfully consult and accommodate Grassy Narrows in a way that upholds the honour of the Crown before making decisions that could impact our rights. The SCC also requires that Ontario ensure that there is enough resource left to allow for the meaningful exercise of the rights.

We also believe that basic environmental and human rights standards have not been met.

Has Ontario met their obligations to Grassy Narrows under the Treaty?

No. Ontario has met with Grassy Narrows, but they have not heard our voices and they have not changed their plans to meaningfully take Grassy Narrows’ concerns into account.

The impacts of past industrial activity, including hydro damming, mercury dumping, and clearcut logging, have put our rights in extreme peril and have had a grave impact on our health, culture, and livelihood. Further forced industrial logging could compound the existing industrial impacts leaving Grassy Narrows with no ability to meaningfully exercise our rights.

What will Grassy Narrows do next?

Grassy Narrows will continue our long fight to protect our health, our way of life, and our environment following our own laws and teachings. We will stand to protect our people and our forests from clearcut logging in the legislature, in the market place, in the courts, and on the land.

We invite Ontario and Canada to engage with us in good faith to build a positive relationship based on respect for our way of life, recognition of our rights, restoration of our health and our environment, and meaningful reconciliation. In this day and age, it is widely recognized that it is wrong, and unwise to force industrial extraction on Indigenous communities against our will.

For more information contact:
Joseph Fobister
Phone: 807-407-2745

Roger Fobister
Phone: 807-407-1574

Robert Janes
Phone: 250-888-5269

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