Grassy Narrows logging conflict, Ont., Canada


The Grassy Narrows blockade began on December 2, 2002, when two people stepped in front of a logging truck hauling timber out of clear-cuts in the bands traditional territories. It has now lasted over a decade, becoming the longest running Indigenous logging blockade in Canada. The case has also moved to the courts with an appeal brought in the Supreme Court of Canada by the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) to defend the Whiskey Jack Forest against logging.

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Basic Data
NameGrassy Narrows logging conflict, Ont., Canada
SiteGrassy Narrows
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAs of July 2008, under pressure from Weyerhaeuser, the province has produced a three-year contingency logging plan for the Whiskey Jack Forest allowing more than 27 clearcuts, including 17 that will be more than 260 hectares in size (500 football fields).

Project Area (in hectares)1000000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2002
Company Names or State EnterprisesResolute
Domtar from Canada
Relevant government actorsOntario Government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAmnesty International, Grassy Narrows First Nation, Boreal Forest Network, Boreal Action Project, Winnipeg Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
First Nations
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Boycotts of companies-products
Boycott and disinvestment campaign against Weyerhauser. River run rallies to Toronto.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
OtherMinimata disease from mercury poisoning
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesGrassy Narrows, and their supporters, are demanding:

RESPONSIBILITY: Acknowledge mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows, apologize, and accept responsibility to fix what was broken.

SAFETY: Fund a permanent Grassy Narrows run environmental health monitoring center. Strengthen Health Canada mercury safety guideline to protect all people.

COMPENSATION: Compensate all people diagnosed by a recent study by Japanese doctors, and retroactively index the compensation to inflation.

RESTORATION: Clean and restore the English-Wabigoon river system. Stop the mills from polluting the water and air.

JUSTICE: Restore Grassy Narrows control over Grassy Narrows Territory. End destructive industrial logging on Grassy Narrows territory.

Ogagwejimaan means he/she asks him.

The newsletter and website together will ask the people of ANA very important questions. These questions need answers. How do we make a living from the earth without destroying it? How do we maintain a culture in a swiftly shifting world? These questions will not go away. Leaving them unanswered means others will speak in our silence.

Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.If the Supreme Court of Canada refuses to take the case the current ruling permitting continued logging will stand. After 40 years the community is still suffering from mercury poisoning as well.
Sources and Materials

Treaty 3 harvesting clause: Her Majesty further agrees with Her said Indians that they, the said Indians, shall have right to pursue their avocations of hunting and fishing throughout the tract surrendered as hereinbefore described, subject to such regulations as may from time to time be made by Her Government of Her Dominion of Canada, and saving and excepting such tracts as may, from time to time, be required or taken up for settlement, mining, lumbering or other purposes by Her said Government of the Dominion of Canada, or by any of the subjects thereof duly authorized therefor by the said Government.


Grassy narrows reserve: mercury pollution, social disruption, and natural resources: a question of autonomy. C Vecsey - American Indian Quarterly, 1987.
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Media Links

Created in the winter of 2002/2003
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As Long as the Rivers Flow: The Story of the Grassy Narrows Blockade (Part 1 of 6)

Meta Information
ContributorLeah Temper
Last update08/04/2014