‘We want the tar sands pulled away’: Prince Edward Island author on Grassy Narrows – in pictures

To make this predictable video was not to throw the hook, after all. It was to participate in a teach-in at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology to call on Ontario to, in the words of the Grassy Narrows First Nation’s Chief Theresa Spence, “move forward with a retreat”.

Grassy Narrows, a band of 150 people that lives on the Ontario-Wabigoon reserve and near the end of the Hwys. 11 and 13, has a history of resisting attempts to drill for oil and gas. The band does not want coal seam gas mining. It does not want oil and gas development anywhere near its members. If Ontario wants this oil and gas, it will need permission from the government.

Grassy Narrows force close to two dozen oil and gas wells in their territory – part of an entrenched pattern of resistance by the band over several decades, including a 2008 standoff at the OMNI oil sands upgrader near Fort McMurray when Idle No More activists blocked a company entrance. Meanwhile, Ontario’s Government Minerals Act, which allows Ontario to send big piles of clay, gas and tar sands gravel to places like Grassy Narrows, has been pushed through an Ontario legislature with very little opposition. The law, now on Governor General’s Orders, was passed without our community having any input. It has been modified since, but the key remains unchanged.

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