“Before our hunting ground was cut I felt like a millionaire. Now I feel like a shoeboy.”
Mario Lord has lived in the bush since he was 8. At 29, he is now tallyman of the W-11B trapline. Mario says his trapline has changed since the days when his late grandfather lived and hunted there. Today, there aren’t enough trees to sustain the way of life that has existed there since time immemorial. Mario no longer lives in the bush like before.
With three-quarters of his trapline cleared of trees, Mario took a stand last fall. He returned to the bush after spending some time outside the community and found forestry workers swarming all over his land.
“They were already starting cutting everything,” he remembers. “They were trying to cut around my house again.
They already did that before. They did a real clean-up there so I can’t even use my first house. That’s what they wanted to do again.”
But this time, Mario would not just go along. “I got really mad about it.”
He went over to the forestry crew and asked them to stop their work. This didn’t have much effect, so Mario had to try something more drastic. “It seems like they didn’t want to listen to me. I got really mad and, after, I went to stand in the trees they were supposed to cut. That’s how I managed to stop them. I didn’t use any violence, nothing.”
After the confrontation, the company wanted to charge Mario for making threats and obstructing its work, but later dropped the complaint. But the incident also finally forced Norbord to start talking compensation with Mario.
Mario’s late grandfather was still alive when Norbord (then it was Normick-Perron) first started cutting their land 12 years ago. Back then, there was talk of compensation but nothing materialized. “He waited and waited. Eventually he died and he never had anything,” Mario said of his late grandfather.
“After 12 years, imagine how my land looks now.”
Norbord finally gave in five months after the mini-standoff last fall. Mario got a cabin and $10,000 per year.