ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG: Abitibi comes to bargaining table. Community faces difficult decisions
February 14, 2004
ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG: Abitibi comes to bargaining table. Community faces
"My grandfather taught me an important lesson," recalled a Grassy Narrows
community member. "When you think things are impossible, remember the little
hands of a beaver and the large dam that it can build over night."
The community of Grassy Narrows is working hard to build and re-build its
own way of life one step at a time. These citizens of the Anishnaabe Nation
(of which Grassy Narrows is a part) have done the impossible by bringing the
pulp and paper corporation Abitibi-Consolidated to the bargaining table.
Recently Abitibi has brought a proposal to the community of Grassy Narrows.
This proposal outlines areas that will be protected from cutting as well as
other areas that the company will continue to to clear-cut. The community
of Grassy Narrows has some difficult decisions to make. This proposal offers
rights and protections that should already be followed according to Ontario
legislation, environment assessments, previous agreements, and Treaty #3.
In accepting this proposal the community would receive immediate economic
benefits. In rejecting the proposal the community would run the risk of
losing access to the land through unjust court rulings, but would remain
committed to nation-to-nation negotiating which is outlined in legal
precedent dating back to the 1700s.
To make this difficult decision, community leaders have developed a survey
and go door to door on the reserve polling residents to help the community
understand everyone's concerns. The survey also asks for the input of
children. This strategy of developing questions and gathering information
takes time and while Abitibi pressures the community for quick answers, the
community continues along its impossible but entirely possible route in its