March Against Ring Of Fire Organized By Ojibway Nation


March Against Ring of Fire Mining Launches Historic Movement to Save the World’s Largest Forest

by Dr. John Bacher

and Danny Beaton Mohawk

In Memory of Alicja Rozanska

Danny and John at the Queens Park Rally. March Against Ring of Fire Mining Launches Historic Movement to Save the World’s Largest Forest.On September 26, 2023 a historic struggle in defense of Mother Earth’s largest remaining intact forest took place. Led by the Land Defense Alliance, 6,000 protestors marched from Grange Park to Queen’s Park, to protect this sacred space from mining proposals in what is popularly known as the Ring of Fire.

The Ring of Fire mineral deposit, discovered in 2007, was originally celebrated for chromite, and now as the whims of markets change, nickel. It is in the heart of the Hudson Bay Lowlands, the world’s second largest reservoir of peatlands. Known as the “Breathing Lands”, scientists increasingly discover its importance to moderating climate on our planet threatened by human greed-induced global boiling. It, safely for now, stores 35 billion tons of carbon. Finally, a major demonstration took place to protect this land vital to planetary ecological recovery – a vital refrigerator for Mother Earth.

The march was organized by the Land Defense Alliance, which is focused on stopping mining in Northern Ontario. Its initial focus was on stopping Ontario’s antiquated “Free Entry” mining laws. These allow prospectors to stake claims on Indigenous Territories, without gaining consent. Such actions violate the United Nations’ Declaration on Indigenous People, to which Canada is a signatory. The marchers pledged to “prevent the same thing that happened on the tar sands, from happening on our territories.”

The protest was timed to support a Queens Park Press conference of the leaders of three Northern Ontario Indigenous communities. They included Chief Rudy Turtle of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, Elder Alex Moonias from the Neskantaga First Nation, and Cecilia Begg from the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation.

At the Press Conference Alex Moonias declared that “Mother Earth is hurting. If a big needle is pushing into your body, how would you feel? The gift the Creator gave us is to protect the land.”

One of the most eloquent speakers on September 26th was Chief Rudy Turtle. He made it clear that he does not want any more mining, logging, or other development in the homeland of the Anishinaabe people. Turtle’s perspective was shaped by the impact on his community of the dumping of mercury into a river by two paper mills upstream of Grassy Narrows. He lives with the shakes, and seizures that are the legacy of the contamination of his nation’s traditional territory. Turtle explained how industrial exploitation “led to tragedy in the past, and that’s how I see it right now.” He explained “We are poisoned, and we don’t want to be poisoned again.”

Turtle was one of the leading organizers of the Queens Park protest. He has vowed “We don’t want our land to continue to be ravaged and destroyed. Mining leaves too many scars on the land, and it’s not right when you’re cutting up Mother Earth. We would like our land to be restored to its natural state, so we can live peacefully.”

Native protestors against the Ring of Fire Mining disaster in waiting have seen the lies of false promises from mining. Some of the demonstrators came from the community of Attawapiskat, which is resisting schemes to turn an abandoned diamond mine into a dump.

The Ring of Fire area and the adjacent Polar Bear Provincial Park immediately to the north is the only area in Ontario big enough and isolated from industrial exploitation to heal from the follies of Euro-Canadian arrogance and colonialism. This is the only area where threatened indicator species of a healthy boreal forest ecosystem, the Woodland Caribou and Wolverine, are recovering in numbers. It is also the last bastion in Ontario of the Lake Sturgeon, the same prized fish whose eggs in Russia provide caviar. In the rest of Ontario, it is listed as “Threatened”; here it is only a species of “Special Concern.” With a major demonstration finally taking place against ecocidal mining in the Ring of Fire, it is to be hoped that keeping industrial extraction out of this region will finally become a matter of urgent special concern to voters in Ontario.

Mohawk Elder Speaks Out

In 2016 Indigenous youth started organizing “ReZpect Our Water”. Also joining them was Indigenous Environmental Network, who were protesting the Dakota Pipeline. This struggle grew to thousands of protesters because of social media. Soon high-profile people joined in the protest and then The United Nations Council in Geneva got involved. “Indigenous Sovereignty Protects Land and Water”, their signs said. Fighting hand to hand with pipeline security forces with vicious dogs, helicopters, concussion grenades, mace, then police, then military: this is what peaceful protesters faced off for Mother Earth’s protection.

The Lakota have said: “You cannot sell Mother Earth. The Black Hills are not for sale.” Chief Dan George said: “How can you sell the land? The land belongs to our Children’s Children.” Our elders said the same message on Six Nations: “This Mother Earth must be protected for The Seven Generations of Faces Looking at us from the Earth.” Indigenous people are still living a good life up north in the Boreal Forest, a healing place which, like John says, is a refrigerator for the planet/Mother Earth.

Martin Scorsese has just made a new film, an epic film of the Indigenous people of North America, which really includes Canada. We all faced the same horror watching our children taken from their mother and father, many relocated away from motherlands, forced to starve and live in fear from white supremacy. This new film is called “Killers of The Flower Moon”, about the Osage Nation during the mining and drilling for oil in Oklahoma. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone, it is based on a series of murders and the tragedy of Indigenous People. The music is by Mohawk legend Robbie Robertson of Six Nations Grand River Country.

Yet the exploitation of Mother Earth continues even after life species disappearing every day, turbulent weather and Climate Change, which scientists keep repeating is a crisis. Indigenous people can fight for water and all life, but the struggle I believe is one of unity, compassion, forgiveness, love and so much more; even common sense and the wisdom of our ancestors and living elders who know the real truth. Our way of life is that there is no compromise for life or Mother Earth. We have no right to sell Mother Earth for profit-sharing. Our ancestors and elders, chiefs and clan mothers cared nothing about profit-sharing for something that gives us Indigenous People Life or all people life. The Dakota Youth and Elders are fighting together for Mother Earth and life and the Lakota not selling their Sacred Black Hills for profit. Now there are still many Great Ojibway People, elders, mothers and fathers, youth, who are saying we need a clean pure territory to exist with the wolf, bear, moose and sturgeon and Creation.

The Wet’suweten Nation are trying to protect their homeland, too. They are fighting pipelines in British Columbia, trying to support future generations. Wet’suweten people still follow Natural Laws and natural life. They do not want to stop defending Mother Earth, they want all life to be happy on their territory with no compromise of pollution or contamination to other species. Frogs, snakes, turtles, rabbits, bear and eagle have a right to clean pure fresh water. No Indigenous people want to share their home with mining corporations or logging companies exploiting Mother Earth, for profit-sharing is not the way our ancestors lived. Japan and China do not want to share their home with mining corporations who will pollute and contaminate their drinking water or the fish they catch to eat. Britain and France do not want to sell their home to mining corporations who would kill all their bumble bees and flowers! The Wet’suweten Nation do not want their children’s future destroyed for oil extraction or pipelines that threaten pure clean drinking water. The world just needs to look at what happened in Grassy Narrows, Northern Ontario, Canada. We all know what contamination does to life and water. Attawapiskat knows what diamond mining did to ground water: it helped create toxic waste on their territory. The elders did not want to share the land with corporations. Now they still haven’t cleaned up the mess they made in James Bay.

Thank you all for listening in the Spirit of My Ancestors and Elders.

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