Boreal Action is a grassroots environment and social justice group.

Slant Lake blockaders mark eighth anniversary

Kenora Daily Miner and News


By Mike Aiken

Friday Dec. 3, 2010

All continues to be quiet at the Slant Lake road block.

Eight years have now gone by since logging trucks were stopped just north of Grassy Narrows by a human blockade.

While negotiations are said to be continuing — with mediator Frank Iacobucci recently re-appointed — officials at the Ministry of Natural Resources are hard-pressed to say there's been any developments.

Four ministers have overseen the talks, each pledging quick action on a resolution, but to no avail. The enduring deadlock between the supporters of the blockade and the province seems to be one of the few constants in an ever-changing political landscape.

Since 2002, the pulp mill at Kenora has died and been demolished. The stud mill has been idled indefinitely and the Weyerhaeuser plant continues to hang on by its fingernails, as it struggles with the collapse of the American housing market, as well as uncertainties with its wood suppliers.

Still, Dec. 2 was the day the community of grassy narrows people set up a human blockade against logging trucks, wrote Judy Da Silva of Grassy Narrows, as she marked the anniversary.

"Many people have come through here — advocates, helpers, warriors, children, women, men elders of all nations; without them, the word would not have gone out to peoples out there! So, we thank all those people that have helped us in so many many ways," she continued.

To mark the occasion, the blockaders were lighting a sacred fire and making humble offerings to the land. They also encouraged their supporters to sing, dance, pray and continue to advocate for the protection of the First Nation's traditional lands.

"We the blockaders are still against any sort of logging activities or resource extraction," Da Silva wrote.

Supporters will continue their campaigns against Weyerhauser, saying the logging industry destroys the land and the Anishinabe way of life, which they cannot allow.

In conclusion, Da Silva remembered the names of all those who have passed on, since their action began, as well as all the other communities — Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug at Big Trout Lake, Ardoch Algonquins at Sharbot Lake, Barriere Lake Cree in Northern Quebec, Haudenosaunee Iroquois at Caledonia, Mi'kmaq in New Brunswick, Secwepemc Shuswap in B.C., who are also fighting to protect their land.