On the night of December 2, 2002, with temperatures below zero, two sisters and young Indigenous mothers from the Grassy Narrows First Nation drove from their reserve, located in the southern fringe of the vast Boreal Forest in northern Ontario, to a logging road just a few miles from their home and felled trees over the road to protest unwanted logging on their land. Their protest was the spark that ignited their small community of 1,000 to launch the longest standing logging blockade in North America, which continues to this day.
In June 2008, the people of Grassy Narrows celebrated victory when AbitibiBowater (now Resolute Forest Products), one of the largest paper companies in the world, agreed to stop logging on 1 million acres of Grassy Narrows traditional territory in the Whiskey Jack Forest. However, in late 2013, Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources finalized and approved a new 10-year Forest Management Plan, which again calls for clear-cutting forests on Grassy Narrows territory without consent.
To help address this latest threat, RAN’s Protect-an-Acre program is supporting a project being led by Asubpeeschoseewagong Oshkaadiziwag Kagobewat-- a community-led group whose name translates to Grassy Narrows Youth Organization. GNYO is a new organization formed by Indigenous youth and have been participating in the Grassy Narrows blockade for years and learning skills at annual youth gatherings where Elders have taught traditional skills and knowledge about how to use the land and to help reclaim Anishinaabe culture and continue the struggle against unwanted logging. Some GNYO members were not yet teenagers when RAN began supporting these efforts by the Grassy Narrows community.
This grant is supporting the Save Keys Lake Campaign, which has the goal of removing the Keys Lake cut block from the logging plan and to have it declared a protected area. This campaign is intended to serve as a catalyst for GNYO to build confidence and capacity. In planning and running the campaign, a new group of Indigenous youth are getting the opportunity to put into place various traditional organizing models, build relationships in the community, continue to learn traditional skills from Elders and to establish themselves as leaders in their community.
This campaign is part of the overall “trapline strategy” being employed by Grassy Narrows, which seeks to combine land protection and cultural resurgence as a single process through building traditional structures on family traplines to demonstrate ongoing use of land throughout Grassy Narrows territory. The big picture goal is to leverage the Save Keys Lake Campaign together with other community-led efforts in order to force the outright cancellation of the 10-year Forest Management Plan.
- The right of Indigenous Peoples to live on and use their traditional territories;
- The right to self-determination;
- The right to free, prior, and informed consent (known as FPIC) before any outside project is undertaken on their land;
- The right to keep their languages, cultural practices, and sacred places;
- The right to full government services;
- And the right to be recognized and treated as peoples.
Happy World Rainforest Week![caption id="attachment_9209" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Indonesian Rainforest, Sumatra. Photo courtesy of RAN"][/caption] How will YOU celebrate rainforests from October 17-24? Please add your ideas, activities, and commitments as a comment to this blog to keep our thoughts and actions fresh with new ways to think global and act local. Here are some ideas from our staff, friends, and activist like YOU about how they will be honoring and sharing the beauty and importance of our world's precious rainforests all week (and beyond!)
1 Be A Rainforest HeroVisit RainforestHeroes.com with the kids and youth in your life to learn about rainforests and their awesome inhabitants. Sign up for yourself or your class to be Rainforest Heroes today! [caption id="attachment_9316" align="aligncenter" width="313" caption="Rainforest Heroes"][/caption]
2 Watch GreenWatch the films GREEN and Orang-Rimba: Happiness Lies in the Forest with your friends or family. GREEN is a powerful, beautiful film that documents orangutan habitat loss in Indonesia through the eyes of one of its victims. The second film documents the impacts of deforestation on Indigenous Peoples, such as the nomadic Orang Rimba who live in the Jambi and Riau provinces of Sumatra. Then, write a letter to one of the companies destroying Indonesia's rainforests telling them to change their practices.
3 BreatheTake a deep breath. Know that rainforests produce 20% of the oxygen we breath. Say thanks!
4 Meet Tiki
- Become friends with Tiki the Tiger on Facebook
- Follow Tiki on Twitter
- Sign Tiki the Tiny Tiger's petition
- Visit TikiTheTiger.com to learn about the cutest, tiniest Sumatran Tiger in the whole wide world- and how YOU can help save his rainforest home.
5 Eat Rainforest FoodIncorporate sustainably-harvested rainforest foods into a meal and savor a taste of what incredible (and delicious) plants have evolved in such biodiverse tropical areas!
6 Love Indonesia's RainforestsJoin our We Love Indonesia's Rainforests Facebook fan page [caption id="attachment_9317" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Zapara Elder, Ecuador. Photo courtesty of RAN."] [/caption]
7 Protect An AcreDonate to RAN's Protect-an-Acre fund. PAA is a small grants program which contributes directly to forest communities struggling to protect their rainforest homelands and the natural-resource base on which these communities rely. Learn about the Zapara People of the Ecuadorian Amazon, our featured PAA grant.
8 Sleuth at the StoreSleuth out Rainforest-Safe Books at your local bookstore with our free, easy-to-download Sleuth toolkit.
9 Get There Without ChevronSkip the gas station (especially Chevron), ride your bike, walk or take the bus. Learn about what Chevron has dumped in the Amazon and tell Chevron to take responsibility and CLEAN UP ECUADOR.
10 Be Brilliant
We want to hear your ideas for how to celebrate World Rainforest Week. Please comment below and let us know how you intend to especially celebrate rainforests this week!