Ontario: Aboriginal Justice

A CPT delegation focusing on Aboriginal justice issues will travel to the First Nations community of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) and the nearby town of Kenora in Northwest Ontario August 16-26, 2007.

In 1999, the Ontario government granted a 20-year license to Abitibi Consolidated allowing them to clear-cut Asubpeeschoseewagong traditional lands. Grassy Narrows community members started blockading Abitibi logging contractors in November 2002 with CPT accompaniment.

The blockade effectively protected the southern part of the traditional land use area. However, Abitibi continues to clear-cut the northern part in defiance of a moratorium against logging declared by the community in February 2007. Nearly 50% of Asubpeeschoseewagong territory has been clear-cut, destroying traditional hunting, trapping, food and medicine gathering activities.

Situated on the rocky shores of Lake of the Woods, Kenora’s economy is sustained by summer tourism and resource extraction. Although Abitibi recently closed its paper mill in Kenora, it continues to supply a Kenora Weyerhauser factory that manufactures a widely-used product called Timberstrand.

Kenora is an important regional center where members of thirteen Anishnaabe communities come to shop, attend school and seek medical care. Aboriginal residents and visitors routinely experience racially-based mistreatment in Kenora.

Delegation members will document the effects of clear-cutting on traditional lands, meet community leaders working to improve relations between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal peoples, and plan a public witness/direct action focused on Aboriginal sovereignty issues. To participate, contact delegations@cpt.org.