Touring Toronto with Grassy Grandmas

Written by Brant Olson

Topics: Frontline Communities

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Here’s David’s report from his trip up to Ontario this week.

The Grassy Narrows speaking tour has turned out to be a real hit – we have reached about 450 people in 6 cities in one week.

Re-envisioning Relationships ConferenceYou can hear a pin drop while the Grassy Narrows clan mothers speak, and they have had some very positive things to say about their collaboration with RAN.

Today Judy was keynote speaker to about 200 delegates (First Nations, NGOs, activists, academics) at a conference focused on collaborations between Indigenous groups and NGO’s called “Re-envisioning Relationships.”

ConferenceAs a prop she used a power point slide show I put together from this summer. We gave out hundreds of our beautiful new stickers, posters and pamphlets, and about 100 people signed our petition. People begged for copies of the DVD.

Yesterday we unfurled our banner on the steps of the legislature and did interviews with NOW magazine and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network after speaking to another great crowd in Toronto.

The photo-set is on our Flickr account here.

5 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Brant says:

    Check out the interview pictured above at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network National News.

  2. Melissa Gray says:

    Thank you to those strong, wise women who took time from their familes and jobs to get the word out. It was very moving to see this horrific destruction of traditional lands and Mother Earth. I hope to lend my voice and action to this cause.

  3. frank stilson says:

    I felt the pain when Judy, Roberta and Barbara spoke in London Ontario recently about the poisioning and destruction of their native land by multinational corporations and the Ontario government. A deep sadness hit my gut, but a blast of joy when I listend to the lives and words of these three brave women, ordinary women who began an action that has brought attention to the destruction of thier land. Three brave women had shut down the trans Canada highway and are taking a stand on the land that is being destroyed. I will be working hard in London to help, in a small way to help raise money for the sacred fire shelter at the site. I say to these three women, you have inspired many people and I thank you for sharing you life and committment to mother earth. Megweetch

  4. Aiden says:

    “According to a report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Abitibi cut almost all of the remaining endangered woodland caribou habitat between 1999 and 2004 and regularly clear-cuts huge tracts of land, sprays the land with pesticides, and replants with monoculture tree plantations”

    that above is from you website. I somewhat take issue to it cause its slighty misleading. First I’ll tell you I love Abitibi and clear cutting. And no Im not some greasy face conservative doughboy in his mom’s basement trying to stir up trouble. I’m a socialist and a tree planter who has planted in clear cuts and worked aa contracter for Abitibi. In T-Bay its great- unionized- good tree prices and low camp costs.

    I digress, first huge tracts of land- at least in T-Bay they aren’t very big- probably average between 3-5 hecarces but I saw 15 hacs sometimes and .1 hacs at times. Though in Alberta they are starting to massive 100,000 hacs cuts cause they are afriad of the pine beetle.

    2nd Pesticides- no they aren’t good but they are only ever sprayed once. Compare this your food (if its not organic). The purpose is simply to give the seedlings a year head start on the other trees.

    Which bring me to monoculture. The Foresters at Abitibi said it was impossible for them to create a monoculture. Like fir and ceder and aspen can grow back no prob. And remember there are only 10 species of trees in the boreal forest and Abitibi gets us to plant 5 of them- Black Spruce, White Spruce, Jack Pine, White Pine, and Red Pine. Its common to have 3 species in your bag at once. You cant even plant two white or red pine next to each other. And you plant the trees depending on the spec ratios and the land type- like your not going to put white spruce or pine in black muck because only black spruce is going to grow there.

    Overall I think the environmental arguements against Grassy Narrows logging are weak but not as weak as your American ones. Big Surprise!!!!! Yanks like to build houses!!! hell if they didnt then thousands of Canadian treeplanters, loggers, truckers, machine operators, mill workers, foresters, pilots, and thinners would be out of work not mention all the secondary industry derived from that.

    But overall Im for stopping the logging simply because of Native Land Claims. The Abitibi forester was asked about Grassy Narrows and he said they have every legal right to log there. This is true but that is white man’s law and doesn’t make any difference to pending native land claims.
    I think Native self-detrimination is your strongest arguement against Grassy Narrows. Much better then your weak environmental ones (although the caribou one is decent) or blatant pandering to xenophobic Anti-Americanism.

    Peace though

  5. Brant says:

    Aidan: Thanks for your thoughts. Always good to hear from people on the ground.

    First, we’re all for tree planters and union labor–you Canadians could probably teach we “yanks” a thing or two about both.

    As for the clear-cuts, I think the lesson is for Canada to learn. According to management plans filed by Abitibi, the largest planned clear-cut within Grassy Narrows will leave a 20,000 ha scar on the landscape–roughly the size of Washington, DC. Some of the larger cuts in the area are visible from space (link).

    If you don’t buy the environmental argument from CPAWS, listen to the case made by folks in the community. Pesticides have made plants toxic and animals sick.

    In any case, thanks for your perspective. It helps us learn.

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