Grassy Narrows decision rules logging OK in Ontario

Friday, 18 July, 2014

A piece posted yesterday on Mining Watch Canada provides an excellent précis of last week’s Grassy Narrows decision, which saw the Canadian Supreme Court rule that the State of Ontario has the right to issue logging licences on the treaty lands of the Grassy Narrows First Nation.

From the Toronto Star:

“In a 7-0 ruling released Friday, the high court dismissed the... appeal, ruling that Ontario has the right to “take up” lands in the treaty area in northwestern Ontario near Kenora, under provisions in Canada’s Constitution, and the interpretation of the treaty.

‘Ontario and only Ontario has the power to take up lands under Treaty 3 [the treaty which was the focus of the case],’ the Supreme Court said in its ruling, in a case that hinged on jurisdictional issues.” 


But in a significant caveat, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that if the taking-up leaves Grassy Narrows with no meaningful right to hunt, fish, or trap in relation to the territories over which they’ve traditionally done so, a potential action for treaty infringement will arise.”

This case was brought in response to the impact of logging on traditional indigenous territories, and supporting Grassy Narrows in the case was the Wabauskang First Nation, which has experienced both logging and mining in its own territories.

This one could run for some time: as the Mining Watch piece says, “The people of Grassy were not relying solely on this court case to address Ontario's transgressions - they have [fought] and will continue to fight for their rights using a variety of mechanisms.” 

This post is a great précis with links to a number of other articles providing legal and historical perspectives for the case; various takes on the outcome and what it means for mining, logging and community relations in Canada; and interviews with those involved.