Ontario Natives Recruit Environmental Lobbyists

By Staff Writers

The Grassy Narrows First Nation of northwestern Ontario have enlisted the aid of the California-based international environmental group Rainforest Action Network, who say they will lobby investors and bankers of Weyerhaeuser Ltd., and Abititi-Consolidated Inc., to further publicize the Grassy Narrows’ fight to save the boreal forests of their traditional territory.

The 700-member First Nation has launched numerous assaults against the multinationals, which includes three years of blockades, public protests and legal action.

The Rainforest Action Network said the chief executives of both companies have been warned that protests will go ahead focusing on their investors, consumers, bankers, business partners, if clear-cutting continues.

Network spokesperson David Stone they have convinced American trans-nationals such as Burger King and Home Depot to change their business practices after public pressure on environmental issues.

He said he believes responsible companies will react positively to their requests not to participate “in the worst ecological and human rights abuses that are going on right now.”
According to their website, three of the largest banks in the United States (Citigroup, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase) have recently adopted policies that attempt to safeguard old growth and endangered forests.

In a letter sent to Weyerhaeuser Ltd. and Abitibi-Colsolidated Inc., the First Nation accuses the companies of cultural and environmental devastation.

“This letter is to inform you that you are taking part in the destruction of our homeland…Know that you face a fierce campaign against you on all fronts – in the woods, in the streets, in the marketplace, in your boardrooms and in the media,” states the letter.

The northwestern Ontario First Nation has long and bitterly complained that decades of unsustainable logging practices have poisoned local waters with mercury and other toxins, flooding of sacred grounds and clear-cutting practices, have all but destroyed their traditional way of life.

The letter goes on to state that negotiations, requests for environmental assessments, lawsuits, public protests and three years of blockades have failed to produce any improvements in their situation.

The Montreal-based Abitibi removes 13.6 million cubic metres from the boreal forest every year and holds the right to log on the land until 2024. Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest logging companies and is notorious for its “cut and run” practices around the globe.

The earth is suffering and we as human beings are suffering,” said Judy Da Silva, a member of the Grassy Narrows environmental committee.