August 19, 2014 – Kenora, Ontario – A delegation of youth from Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation), joined by nearly two dozen Anishinabe and non-Indigenous supporters carrying protest signs and banners, delivered today a letter and a set of demands to Weyerhaeuser at the Kenora Timberstrand Trus Joist Mill.
“We are here to remind Weyerhaeuser that Grassy Narrows Youth have already said clearly that there will be no logging in our territory,” said Corissa Swain, 13, from Grassy Narrows.
“We are demanding that Weyerhaeuser commit to not use any wood that comes from our territory,” said Kimiwan Assin, 15, also from Grassy Narrows.
The Youth delegation, was joined in support by adults from Grassy Narrows, and by the On-to-Ottawa Caravan, a group of long-term activists from Western Canada who are travelling to Ottawa for the People’s Social Forum, a conference of over 2000 activists, organizers, academics and journalists from across the country, taking place next weekend in Ottawa.
“No cause is more important than the struggle of Indigenous peoples for the right to decide their own fate and to protect their sacred territory,” said John Haggerty, a participant headed from Vancouver to Ottawa for the Peoples Social Forum. “The goal of the Forum,” Haggerty continued, “is for social movements to unite and support the struggles of all nations.”
Today’s action, taken by the youth, comes in the wake of Supreme Court of Canada decision against Grassy Narrows and amidst ongoing plans from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to commence clearcut logging within Grassy Narrows Territory as soon as the Spring. Weyerhaeuser’s Kenora facility is allocated nearly all hardwood to be cut in Grassy Narrows Territory under the MNRF plan.
“We are mad, but we know that the trees and the land are precious and sacred, and we will protect them,” said Corissa Swain. “We needed to tell Weyerhaeuser that, and to give them a chance to commit to not taking trees from our Territory,” she continued.
Youth organizers from Grassy Narrows have previously issued statements in response to the Supreme Court of Canada case and the Provincial clearcutting plan, in which they have declared that they will continue to exercise Indigenous rights as Anishinabe People on the land throughout their Territory, regardless of decisions made by the government.
“What we really want,” said Kimiwan Assin, “is for that plant to close, because even if they are not taking wood from Grassy Territory, the clearcutting is still destroying Anishinabe lands.”
Letter to Weyerhaeuser + Demands
August 19, 2014
FROM: Grassy Narrows Youth
To Whom It May Concern,
We are writing to you today to remind you that Grassy Narrows, Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek Youth, have already said clearly and repeatedly that no logging will take place in our traditional territory.
We, the Youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong are today demanding that you publicly and legally commit to not take wood from our territory.
The land known as the Whiskey Jack Forest is our beautiful home, and is necessary for our lives and our culture, for us and future generations. We do not want you or anyone else clearcutting the forests and destroying the land. We know that the trees, the land and water are precious and sacred.
We have watched for our entire lives as our families and our community has fought back against logging and the destruction of the land, and we have learned to be determined and not to give up. As long as there are threats to the land and water our fight to protect them will not end.
We hope that you can hear us.
Here are our demands to Weyerhaeuser:
1. Make and publicly declare a binding commitment not to accept wood sourced from Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (ANA) Territory.
2. Respect Grassy Narrows’ moratorium on industrial development in ANA Territory.
3. Close your Kenora mill and permanently cease your destruction of all Anishinabe lands.
Grassy Narrows Youth Group