It was a regular day at RAN today, full of meetings and discussions with my ever so talented colleagues. Until about 3pm when David Sone, my fellow Old Growth campaigner, interrupted a meeting that I was in to tell me that AbitibiBowater had just announced that they will pull their logging operations out of Grassy Narrows Territory.
We couldn’t believe what we were reading. A wave of emotion rushed over David and I – AbitibiBowater is the largest paper company in the world, and the company responsible for all of the logging currently happening on Grassy Narrows territory. Weyerhaeuser buys the wood that they use for construction materials from AbitibiBowater, and Boise Inc. announced in February that they would stop buying pulp from AbitibiBowater because it was sourced from the Grassy Narrows territory.
AbitibiBowater’s announcement today means that, when they stop logging, there will be no logging in Grassy Narrows. We can only hope that AbitibiBowater’s announcement will influence ongoing negotiations between the Grassy Narrows community and the Province of Ontario, and allow the community to achieve the moratorium of all industrial activity that they’ve been demanding for the past year.
RAN has worked with the Grassy Narrows community for several years, campaigning for the right of Indigenous people to give their free, prior and informed consent for industrial projects on their territory. This announcement sets the groundbreaking precedent that a relatively small Indigenous community in a remote area of Canada can demand control over what happens on their land – and win.
The current Old Growth campaign team would like to send heartfelt thanks to past Old Growth campaigners, our organizational allies in the United States and Canada, the staff at RAN, and all the wonderful interns, volunteers and organizers who have worked so hard to make this win possible.