Danger ahead for Grassy Narrows First Nation in new plans to mine old-growth forests

Much has been written about the dangers of strip mining in Grassy Narrows First Nation territory. Photos and videos abound of the jagged old-growth forests that once rose around the traditional Red Chief and Skeena River villages and North Water Areas Forest. The treeless landscape and over-grazing have left the forest in ruins. The neighboring Peatbog Lake had been treated with poisonous hot rocks to retard evaporation. Researchers have found dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, and PCBs in the ground water.

Significant efforts were underway to revive the forest with millions of dollars in federal funding, but the development of the Keewatin Yatthe Regional District Regional Works Association project to mine and reclaim these resources was discovered to be a conflict with Ontario’s treaty obligations.

The justice of Treaty 10 seems evident in the determination to bring the forest back to a healthy condition.

We are approached by Goldcorp and the DeBeers Canada affiliates who need to develop old-growth forests to develop resources for global diamond mining and hoping to see our water become a dye for their diamond mining. We resist.

Recently, Ontario’s Energy Ministry has supported the site, overruling Inuit, Chief Theresa Spence and many in the north.

The minister and her aides met with five Inuit from Grassy Narrows to share the environmental and economic benefits with the groups. Three were not in the cabinet meeting but they were not given the full opportunity to express their concerns and the good faith of Grassy Narrows in wanting the forest back.

In a critical moment of the meeting, a member of Inuit for Northern Economic Justice, Grassy Narrows woman Captain Serone Landye Nanga served as the interpreter for the Inuit from Grassy Narrows, to share the implications of this action. Captain Serone Landye Nanga speaks to an upper chamber and as such the minister was supplied with a translation of Chief Theresa Spence’s words: “I’m still my grandmother’s old girl. I’ve never been part of the Parliament.”

This was a hard hit to Minister Lisa MacLeod’s department. This was not a business meeting.

These Ministers are blinded by profits. They see little of the damage that depleted forests cause to a community and see beauty in diamonds and gold.

Esp’mate, steel beets are also an important economic source of Grassy Narrows. They are growing in many parts of the North and are being proposed for Grassy Narrows and the lands surrounding North Water Areas.

Traditional Grassy Narrows families must eat and live off-reserve. The territory’s local farm women formed a coalition to fight for the home soil as the land was corrupted.

Lidar technology, and in particular the cameras looking below, are capturing for Grassy Narrows what we know is there is, yet Minister MacLeod publicly publicly supported this action, one step further, into the spring.

This is an example of how Ontario cares more about planning what it can offer the 1 percent and leaving the rest of us behind.

Leave a Comment