MINER AND NEWS
Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Simon Fobister is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to intervene to prevent the Ministry of Natural Resources from implementing a 10-year management plan for the Whiskey Jack Forest.
“I call on you to intervene to repeal this hurtful plan and to ensure that never again will Ontario attempt to force decisions on our people and our lands,” Fobister stated in a news release.
Wynne previously visited Grassy Narrows in the summer of 2012 as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
The chief contends the 2012-2022 Whiskey Jack Forest Management Plan allows for dozens of large scale clear cuts on the band’s traditional territory further eroding its treaty rights and the ability of community residents to engage in fishing, hunting, trapping, medicine harvesting and ceremonial activities.
Grassy Narrows is challenging the province’s right to issue logging permits on its traditional territory. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Grassy Narrows’ case in May. The challenge follows an earlier Ontario Court of Appeal ruling which overturned a lower court’s decision from 2011, ruling the wording of Treaty 3 does not prevent the Ontario government from issuing logging licences on the band’s traditional territory.
Band members have maintained a symbolic blockade for more than 11 years to prevent logging trucks and equipment from accessing forest areas north of the community.
Last year, MNR approved its annual work schedule for the Whiskey Jack Forest from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
The final year of the two-year contingency plan calls for a total harvest of 213,512 cubic metres of timber; including 132,099 cubic metres of conifer and 81,422 cubic metres of hardwood. The hardwood is destined for the Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist plant in Kenora with the softwood going to Domtar pulp mill in Dryden.
Harvest operations were restricted to the southern and eastern portions of the Whiskey Jack Forest pending development of the 10-year forest management plan involving MNR, stakeholders, area First Nations and local citizens committees.