The importance of the issue and the striking similarities between the First Nations in northern Quebec and northern Ontario compelled NAN to add its voice to the allegations raised by the Cree Petition to the United States to investigate the allegations of the illegal subsidies provided by Canada and its provinces to the forestry industry.
Something must be done quickly about this dispute that’s going on in Ontario. The Nisnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief, Raymond Ferris said,
“We share the same boreal forest, the same aboriginal and treaty rights under one constitution. We also face provincial governments that refuse to sit down with us and talk specifically about our right.”
The NAN filed a submission to the U.S. Department of Commerce in support of the Crees earlier petition. The NAN says that unfair subsidies are provided in Ontario to the forestry companies in the form of ongoing breaks of aboriginal and Treaty Rights, lack of meaningful compensation or consultation, and lack of enforcement of harmful forestry practices which greatly reduce their costs and impact negatively on First Nation rights and traditional territories.
Romeo Saganash, Director of Quebec Relations for the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou Istchee) stated,” this was how the government of Quebec acted when it ignored the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and ceded virtually all of the commercial forests (70,000 square kilometers) within Cree territory to logging companies 10 years ago. Not only have we been marginalized from meaningful participation in the forest industry but many families of Cree hunters have been forced into welfare dependence because their hunting territories have been clear-cut.”
The NAN say the will no longer tolerate the lack of respect the Ontario has towards them. They are prepared to take action to ensure the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights are respected.
And in another forestry related story the Honorable Richard Nadeau decided that two cases, the “Kitchen Case” against the construction of the Abitibi Consolidated (Donohue) Forestry Road is suspended, as is the “Moses Case” against Quebec Law 105, which approves the long term cutting plans of the forestry companies, will be suspended. The reasons they are suspended are that another forestry case, the Lord Case must be dealt with first. The Lord Case is where Cree rights in respect to forestry are the issue and the Judge believes that certain questions in the Moses and Kitchen cases should first be answered in the Lord Case.
The forestry companies and Quebec’s motion to join all of the Cree forestry proceedings into one case was rejected. The judge said the Lord Case would begin in January of 2002.
In coming to his decision, Justice Nadeau said he was trying to find a way of proceeding that would respect the rights of all the parties to fully plead their case and he didn’t want things to go on indefinitely.