Tag Archives: Grassy Narrows First Nation

Supreme Court says companies must pay for mercury-contaminated mill site at Grassy Narrows

Ontario government ordered 2 companies to do remedial work 8 years ago

Two companies are on the hook for looking after a mercury-contaminated site near Ontario’s Grassy Narrows First Nation, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

The 4-3 decision Friday brought some clarity to a long-running dispute over one element of the legacy of environmental poisoning that has caused significant health problems for many residents.

Eight years ago, the Ontario government ordered Weyerhaeuser Co. and a firm that later became Resolute Forest Products to care for a mercury waste-disposal site in Dryden, Ont., where toxic material from a pulp-and-paper mill’s operations entered the English-Wabigoon River system in the 1960s.

The order obligated the two companies to repair site erosion, do water testing, file annual reports, prevent any leaks and give the Ontario Environment Ministry $273,063 as financial assurance with respect to the site.

The companies claimed that an indemnity granted in 1985 to the owners of the paper facility at the time — part of a settlement with the Grassy Narrows and Islington First Nations — applied to them as well, but the province disagreed.

An Ontario judge ruled in favour of the companies in 2016, saying the language of the indemnity should cover the two subsequent owners as well.

However, the Ontario Court of Appeal found Resolute was not entitled to indemnification and said the lower court should decide whether it applied to Weyerhaeuser.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the 1985 indemnity does not apply to the province’s 2011 environmental order, meaning the companies are liable for the costs of carrying it out.

A majority of the high court substantially agreed with the Ontario appeal-court’s reasoning, concluding the judge who initially heard the case made “palpable and overriding errors of fact.”

The Canadian Press · Posted: Dec 06, 2019


Grassy Narrows First Nation holds logging protest in Kenora

Youth leaders from Grassy Narrows First Nation opposed to clear cut logging rally inside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry offices in Kenora on Monday. (Alex Hundert/Twitter)

Youth leaders from Grassy Narrows First Nation opposed to clear cut logging rally inside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry offices in Kenora on Monday. (Alex Hundert/Twitter)

CBC News Posted: Mar 16, 2015

Ontario government has cleared the way for logging to resume near Grassy Narrows First Nation

Members of Grassy Narrows First Nation will be in Kenora, Ont., today to take part in a protest rally being held to show the First Nations continuing opposition to logging in the Whiskey Jack Forest.

Grassy Narrows spokesperson Randy Fobister said the protest will be will be a peaceful one.

“It’s pretty much a rally,” he said.

“We are going to have vehicles and, in each location we are going to walk on the side of the road, back and forth. And there is going to be a drum,” Fobister said. “There is going to be some people speaking. And I will speak as well too.”

About 50 people are expected at the rally.

Fobister said they’ll be making stops at both Kenora Forest Products and the local Ministry of Natural Resources office.

Despite opposition from Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario’s 10-year Forest Management Plan for the area includes clear cutting on the community’s traditional territory.

Grassy Narrows has been opposing the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s plans for logging since before the current Forestry Management Plan was initiated, according to a news release from the First Nation.

Youth ‘standing up for the land’

In March of last year, the Grassy Narrows’ youth group released a statement rejecting the plan, as did the community’s chief and council.

“The trees, like the water, are sacred,” stated Brenda Kokokopenace, an Anishinabe Elder from Grassy Narrows. “We have a duty to protect Mother Earth, and that duty is sacred, too. It is good to see the youth standing up for the land. It shows they know who they are and that they can wake up the people who have lost that connection.”

Many of the placards displayed by youth and community members at today’s rallies are expected to display the familiar slogan, “No Logging, No Mercury.

This, according to the release, is a reference to Grassy Narrows’ parallel struggle against mercury poisoning caused by the logging industry, as well as to the connection between clearcut logging and increased mercury content in the water.


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