Grassy Narrows Youth to Respond to Supreme Court Decision


July 10, 2014

Grassy Narrows First Nation, Asubpeeschoseewagong—On Friday July 11, at 9:45 am, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) will be announcing its decision in the Grassy Narrows Trappers’ Case.

The case, which concerns the Ontario Government’s clearcutting of forests in Grassy Narrows’ Territory, may have a major impact on resource extraction projects throughout the Province and across the country. In Grassy Narrows, the decision comes in the wake of the Ontario Government’s recent decision to temporarily hold off on new clearcutting in Grassy Narrows Territory .  Clearcutting is now planned to begin in April 2015 as  part of the Province’s ten year logging plan which, if implemented, will destroy much of the remaining intact forest in the Territory.

Cayla Kokokopenace is a young mother from Grassy Narrows and the daughter of Andrew Keewatin, who is head of the Grassy Narrows Trappers’ Council and one of the named plaintiffs in the case.  The case finally reached the SCC in May after more than a decade winding its way through the courts.

If the case is decided in Grassy Narrows’ favour, Kokokopenace says, “I feel it would be the greatest accomplishment for the community and it would be inspirational to other communities and it would benefit First Nations.” However, “to lose would be a setback, but I know my community is strong and we will still fight for our land and rights.”

Grassy Narrows Youth Organizer, Edmond Jack said that regardless of the decision, “I will continue to exercise my rights and obligations to use and protect the land as I see fit, because I am still Anishnabe.”

Taina Da Silva, another Youth organizer in the community concluded that, “If the Supreme Court rules against Grassy, it just means another issue that we are going to deal with. When it comes to our land, our rights, our way of life, and the people being infringed upon with vast impacts, we will never give up.”

On Friday morning when the decision is released, many youth from the community will be at Keys Lake—a pristine lake within Grassy Narrows Territory—engaged in a youth-led community shoreline cleanup. A youth spokesperson, Edmond Jack has agreed to be available to field calls from reporters, as has head of the Grassy Narrows Trappers Council and one of the plaintiffs in the case, Andrew Keewatin.

Contact:               Edmond Jack, 807 407

Andrew Keewatin, 807 925 2281

Background Information:  Grassy Narrows at the Supreme Court