Major victory in Northwestern Ontario for nature and First Nations rights
Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court made a very significant ruling that appears to be a major victory for nature and for First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. The essential point of the decision is Justice Mary-Anne Sanderson’s declaration that the Ontario Government cannot take away the rights of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, as described in Treaty Three, by authorizing development including logging and mining. Grassy Narrows First Nation was among the first to suffer significantly from the effects of mercury poisoning when the English and Wabigoon River systems were polluted by a notorious Dryden pulp mill in the 1970s.In a press release by the Anishinaabe First Nation about the court decision yesterday, there was a call on the federal and provincial governments to “honour the spirit and intent of this decision by moving to eliminate clearcut logging in Grassy Narrows Traditional Territory and to develop a meaningful new approach to the management to this territory in partnership with Grassy Narrows.”
For Nature Canada, this decision is very encouraging, and we hope that it begins a new era and approach in the north that puts the rights of First Nations, and the protection of their culture and the environment ahead of industrial development.