Grassy Narrows: the right to a healthy environment
"We have struggled for many years to save our way of life in the face of clear-cut logging, which has contaminated our waters and destroyed our lands. We cannot go back to the old way of business where decisions were imposed on our people and our land with devastating consequences for our health and culture.” -- Grassy Narrows trapper Joseph Fobister
The flooding of their lands. The dumping of mercury into their waters. And the large scale logging of their traditional hunting and trapping territories.
The people of Grassy Narrows — an Anishnaabe community in northwest Ontario — depend on the land as basis of their culture and as a continued vital source of foods and plant medicines. But this relationship has been repeatedly threatened and undermined as a the result of government decisions made without their consent, or even adequate consultation.
In 2002, community members launched a blockade to stop logging in their traditional territory. The stand taken by the community, and the support of many other organizations, has led to four major transnational corporations to either stop logging on the territory, or agree not to handle wood from Grassy Narrows.
As a consequence, there is currently no clear-cut logging taking place in their traditional territory. The provincial government has even agreed to enter into high level talks about the future management of the forest. Despite this, however, the province continues to develop logging plans without the involvement of Grassy Narrows. The province's current plan calls for renewed logging in the Grassy Narrows traditional territory - but under public pressure, the province has agreed that there won't be any clearcutting until at least 2015.
Amnesty International has long campaigned for the province to respect the moratorium on logging called by the people of Grassy Narrows. This community, which has already suffered massive disruption and loss from mercury contamination of their river system, as well as other harmful effects of government policy, deserves the highest standard of human rights protection.