Five quick facts about Grassy Narrows' Supreme Court case

Photo: flickr/Howl Arts Collective

1. What was this case about?

    Grassy Narrows argued that Ontario has no jurisdiction over logging on their Territory due to promises made by Canada in Treaty 3 and the constitution.

     

    2. What did the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) rule?

      The SCC ruled that Ontario is allowed to exercise the rights and responsibilities that Canada has under the Treaty. This decision was limited to differentiating between the jurisdiction of Canada vs. Ontario. The SCC did not rule on whether clearcut logging violates Treaty rights, or on whether the government has met its responsibilities under the Treaty.

       

      3. Is this a green light from the SCC for clearcut logging in Grassy Narrows?

        No. The SCC still requires that Ontario fulfill the duty to meaningfully consult and accommodate Grassy Narrows in a way that upholds the honour of the Crown before making decisions that could impact their rights. The SCC also requires that Ontario ensure that there is enough resource left to allow for the "meaningful exercise of the rights."

        The Supreme Court of Canada also reiterated that where the impacts on Grassy Narrows' rights to hunt and fish are severe, their consent may be required. (Ph. 52 reference to Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010, at para. 168)

        They also believe that basic environmental and human rights standards have not been met.

         

        4. Has Ontario met their obligations to Grassy Narrows under the Treaty?

          No. Ontario has met with Grassy Narrows, but they have not heard Grassy Narrows' voices and they have not changed their plans to meaningfully take Grassy Narrows' concerns into account.

          The impacts of past industrial activity, including hydro damming, mercury dumping and clearcut logging, have put Grassy Narrows' rights in extreme peril and have had a grave impact on their health, culture and livelihood. Further forced industrial logging could compound the existing industrial impacts leaving Grassy Narrows with no ability to meaningfully exercise their rights.

           

          5. What will Grassy Narrows do next?

            Grassy Narrows will continue their long fight to protect their health, way of life and environment following their own laws and teachings. Grassy Narrows will stand to protect their people and forests from clearcut logging in the legislature, in the market place, in the courts and on the land.

            Grassy Narrows invites Ontario and Canada to engage with us in good faith to build a positive relationship based on respect for their way of life, recognition of our rights, restoration of our health and our environment and meaningful reconciliation. In this day and age, it is widely recognized that it is wrong, and unwise to force industrial extraction on Indigenous communities against our will.

            This piece originally appeared on Free Grassy and is reprinted with permission.

            Photo: flickr/Howl Arts Collective

            Further Reading

            Thank you for reading this story…

            More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

            rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

            So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

            And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

            Comments

            We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

            Do

            • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
            • Add context and background.
            • Report typos and logical fallacies.
            • Be respectful.
            • Respect copyright - link to articles.
            • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

            Don't

            • Use oppressive/offensive language.
            • Libel or defame.
            • Bully or troll.
            • Post spam.
            • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.