Ontario will not authorize further logging on Grassy Narrows First Nation's Keewatin lands until Supreme Court of Canada reaches decision on logging rights appeal, official confirms; case is expected to be heard in May

LOS ANGELES , January 3, 2014 () – An official at Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources says the agency will not pursue further logging activity in the traditional lands of the Grassy Narrows First Nation until the Supreme Court of Canada has reached a decision on the First Nation's appeal relating to logging rights in the area, according to a report by Kenora Online.

The province recently approved a 10-year forest management plan to take effect in 2014, which includes logging in the First Nation's traditional territory. The MNR's Jolanta Kowalski confirmed that the plan covers access, harvest, renewal and tending operations in the First Nation's traditional land-use area.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation claims the plan will clearcut much of the mature forest remaining on its  territory, erode treaty rights and impact families that depend on fishing hunting and trapping. The community has also raised concerns about mercury poisoning.

Their case against the province is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in May, Kenora Online reported.

The MNR noted that some First Nations support the province's efforts to devise logging plans on their territories, recognizing that they provide economic opportunities as well as a timber supply for local mills, including those owned by local First Nations members. The MNR noted that the Wabauskang and Wabaseemoong had expressed interest in pursuing forestry opportunities.

Kowalski said the MNR takes treaty rights seriously, and would not proceed with licensing or harvesting in the Grassy Nation's Keewatin Lands until after the Supreme Court had come to a decision. The MNR has also pledged to continue to work with First Nations including Grassy Narrows to reach an agreement.

The primary source of this article is Kenora Online, Kenora, Ontario, on Jan. 2, 2013.

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