Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory is being threatened by mining activity, and the community is standing up to protect their land from these industrial developments. Earlier this year, the community and its supporters forced one company to withdraw its mining application. But the community just found out there are even more permits!
Tell the Ontario government to immediately cancel these permits and withdraw mining activity from Grassy Narrows Territory. The Toronto Star recently revealed more about the permits and that the Ontario government did not even notify the community. Can you help stop more companies that are threatening Grassy Narrows' way of life? Let Ontario’s leaders know that there is a growing movement to support Indigenous rights and self-determination.
The Ontario government has given out nearly 4,000 mining claims and permits in Grassy Narrow’s territory. This means a swath of drill sites that would disturb traditional hunting and fishing areas. The people of Grassy Narrows know what industrial pollution can do to the land and the water, having had to deal with hydroelectric dams, clear-cut logging, and mercury poisoning. This is exactly why they are standing up—so that no one in the community will be poisoned by industrial expansion again.
In 2018, Grassy Narrows declared their territory to be a sovereign and protected area. The “Grassy Narrows Land Declaration” asserts that Grassy Narrows will make their own land use decisions. They have called on all peoples to “Stand with us in asserting and enforcing our sovereignty and this Declaration. Read the full declaration which has been enshrined into Grassy Narrows’ Law.
It is time for Ontario to recognise this declaration and cancel all mining activity on Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory.
Ben & Jerry’s is partnering with Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, also know as Grassy Narrows First Nation, an Ojibway community in Northern Ontario. The community is located along the English-Wabigoon River in Canada’s Boreal Forest. This region has rivers, lakes and forests which create natural habitat for fish, animals, and food that have made up a large portion of the community's food source for generations.
The community of Grassy Narrows has stood up to industrial expansion numerous times, setting up one of the longest-standing Indigenous blockades against logging, and organizing multi-day marches to Toronto to demand justice from mercury waste dumping in the rivers.
Grassy Narrows is a community of elders, youth, and elected leadership who are united in their goals of protecting the land, water, and ways of life. We are taking their leadership in their fight to defend the land and Indigenous rights.
Join them in their fight for justice from mercury, logging, and mining. Find out more about Grassy Narrows, and sign up for their low-traffic newsletter to stay in the loop about this and upcoming campaigns.
Mining is an environmentally extractive industry which will undoubtedly have impacts on the local Boreal Forest with its many lakes and rivers. It is important to consider the full environmental impacts through the life cycle of a mine. This includes the impacts of drill sites, road expansions, transmission lines, mine waste, and tailings ponds on the local ecosystem. After a mine is closed, mining companies will often try to restore the land, but it is challenging (if not impossible) to fully restore an ecosystem that has been created over hundreds of years. That is why protecting this region from mining is so important to Grassy Narrows and other local Indigenous communities, as they rely on the water and the land for their hunting and fishing grounds.
That is why this is not purely about mining, but rather about Indigenous rights and self-determination. Communities should have the right to make decisions about which industrial projects can take place on their land. Even the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) says that Indigenous communities should be informed of industrial projects and their environmental impacts, and then have the right to consent to these projects.
Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of engaging fans based on our 3 Core Values: 1) Social and Economic Justice, 2) Human Rights and Dignity, and 3) Environmental Protection, Restoration, and Regeneration. Supporting Indigenous Rights and Sovereignty is not only aligned with Ben & Jerry’s three core values, but also with the 94 Calls to Action aimed at Canadian institutions and civil society to “advance the process of reconciliation.”
“Traditional territory” refers to the region that people used and accessed for generations. For example, when we say “Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory” we are talking about the land that community members have accessed and used (for food, water, cultural practices, and more) for thousands of years. This is more than homes, buildings, and schools that make up villages and towns. Instead, a community’s traditional territory is significantly larger and remain lands that are connected to people and communities.
Dispossessing Indigenous peoples in Canada of their land has been a long process, and is ongoing. While there were many mechanisms by which Indigenous land was taken, the original idea was termed “The Doctrine of Discovery.” European settlers declared that much of the land in Canada was “uninhabited” and so different European settlers came to Canada and declared their ‘colonies.’ This was then followed by policies and practices that essentially diminished or destroyed the lands on which Indigenous people lived, performed ceremony, and accessed for food and water. There continue to be many unsettled land claims and land-based issues in the Canadian courts, or even backlogged within the legal system. While all of the land that is now Canada was once Indigenous land, indigenous reserves now account for 0.2% of the land.
Self-determination refers to the ability for someone to freely, and without coercion or pressure, make their own decisions. In the case of Indigenous communities, self-determination refers to a community’s ability to make its own political, social, and economic decisions without another Nation, State, or institution (such as a corporation) putting pressure on them. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples also has numerous clauses which refer to Indigenous peoples having the right to self-determination and self-governance, meaning that a community can make its own decisions.