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Grassy Narrows Land Declaration: Federal and provincial governments owe the First Nation a debt of justice

    October 10, 2018

    The Grassy Narrows First Nation has declared that it will exercise self-determination over its traditional territory and not allow any more industrial logging. Responding to today’s announcement, Amnesty International Canada said that the First Nation’s assertion of its inherent rights is an opportunity for the federal and provincial governments to finally treat the people of Grassy Narrows with justice and respect.

    “Federal and provincial management of the lands and territories of Grassy Narrows have left a legacy of extreme environmental contamination and a long-ignored community health crisis,” said Craig Benjamin, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “The federal and provincial governments owe the people of Grassy Narrows a debt of justice. One critical step toward making things right would be to respect the right of the First Nation to make its own decisions about its lands and resources.”

    The federal and provincial governments have never properly addressed the severe, ongoing harms resulting from the dumping of mercury into the Grassy Narrows river system a half century ago. The First Nation has since led a successful campaign to convince logging companies to stop clearcutting in its traditional territory but the province has never agreed to protect the land.

    The Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) Land Declaration calls on the federal and provincial governments to recognize the right of the people of Grassy Narrows to make their own decisions about how their traditional territory can be used.

    International human rights standards, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recognize that Indigenous peoples have the right to make their own decisions about their lands and resources. Particularly where there is a high risk of harm, human rights law requires states to only proceed with those development projects to which Indigenous peoples have given their free, prior and informed consent.

    Read the Grassy Narrows First Nation Land Declaration here

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English):  +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca