Separation Lake Bridge, Ontario –
On Wednesday July 26th at approximately 9:30pm, nine people were arrested in a police raid of a
logging road blockade.
On Tuesday, July 25th, a blockade was started at the Separation Lake Bridge, the border of Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory, at approximately 2:00pm. The blockade, led by Grassy Narrows community members Bonnie, Chrissy, and Adrienne Swain was peaceful, and was attended by around fifteen people, including four children.
At 9:30pm on Wednesday, approximately 30 police officers approached the blockade without warning, and arrested nine of the eleven adults who were present. All of the arrests took place in front of the children who were present: Shayne Swain, 6 years old; Robyn Swain, 14 months old; Tanisha Swain, 4 months old; and Corissa Swain, 5 years old. The only two adults who were not arrested were Adrienne Swain, mother of Shayne and Robyn, and Shelagh Pizey-Allen, who was taking care of the children.
Chrissy Swain, mother of Tanisha and Corissa, was arrested by the OPP in front of her children. Eight of the nine arrestees were female.
Several of the arrestees were pushed forcefully to the ground and dragged to the paddywagons. The OPP separated the more vulnerable arrestees, putting the white Canadian females in one paddywagon, and putting the only male, a female American, a female Aboriginal, and a female Canadian of colour in the other vehicle.
At the time of this update (Thursday, July 27th, 6:00am), 6 of the 9 arrestees have been released. All have been charged with two counts of mischief. The conditions of their release state that they must leave the Kenora area within 24 hours.
Two weeks earlier, on July 13th, people from Grassy Narrows and their supporters temporarily blockaded the Trans-Canada highway for twelve hours. They negotiated the peaceful end of the blockade without arrests with police, but the following day, about a dozen of the participants were arrested and charged with mischief.
These blockades are the most recent developments in Grassy Narrows’ struggle to end clear-cutting on its traditional territory. After Grassy Narrows community members had spent a decade of trying go through the official channels of the government and industry and had been ignored, the Whiskey Jack forest was being clear-cut just a few kilometers away from their community, and community members’ trap lines were being eaten up. In December of 2002, they began a permanent blockade just east of
their community beside Slant lake, preventing any logging trucks from passing.
Now, almost four years later, this is the longest-running blockade of its kind in Canada’s history, and the blockade site has been built up to include a log cabin, a roundhouse, pow-wow grounds, several smaller cabins, and a sacred fire. However, toward the outskirts of Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory, cutting has continued. It’s this cutting that recent actions have targetted. The action at Separation Lake Bridge that took place over the last few days is at the west side of the traditional territory, about 15 km west of the community.
More details and pictures should be following soon and will be posted to
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