Grassy Narrows First Nation holds logging protest in Kenora
Ontario government has cleared the way for logging to resume near Grassy Narrows First Nation
Members of Grassy Narrows First Nation will be in Kenora, Ont., today to take part in a protest rally being held to show the First Nations continuing opposition to logging in the Whiskey Jack Forest.
Grassy Narrows spokesperson Randy Fobister said the protest will be will be a peaceful one.
“It's pretty much a rally,” he said.
“We are going to have vehicles and, in each location we are going to walk on the side of the road, back and forth. And there is going to be a drum," Fobister said. "There is going to be some people speaking. And I will speak as well too.”
About 50 people are expected at the rally.
Fobister said they'll be making stops at both Kenora Forest Products and the local Ministry of Natural Resources office.
Despite opposition from Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario's 10-year Forest Management Plan for the area includes clear cutting on the community's traditional territory.
Grassy Narrows has been opposing the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s plans for logging since before the current Forestry Management Plan was initiated, according to a news release from the First Nation.
Youth 'standing up for the land'
In March of last year, the Grassy Narrows' youth group released a statement rejecting the plan, as did the community's chief and council.
“The trees, like the water, are sacred,” stated Brenda Kokokopenace, an Anishinabe Elder from Grassy Narrows. “We have a duty to protect Mother Earth, and that duty is sacred, too. It is good to see the youth standing up for the land. It shows they know who they are and that they can wake up the people who have lost that connection.”
Many of the placards displayed by youth and community members at today’s rallies are expected to display the familiar slogan, “No Logging, No Mercury.
This, according to the release, is a reference to Grassy Narrows’ parallel struggle against mercury poisoning caused by the logging industry, as well as to the connection between clearcut logging and increased mercury content in the water.