Booshoo! My spirit name is
Southern Wind Woman, I come from the lynx clan. My engish name is Chrissy Swain, I am a
youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong - the ojibway name for Grassy Narrows, which is located 80
kilometers north of Kenora, Ontario.
Let me brief you a little bit about this place. I
have always thought it was a beautiful place to live. I've heard alot of stories about how
our people used to live at the old reserve, before it was relocated in 1962. It was
relocated to have access to a road, also with promises of a school, hydro, water and
sewer.I've also heard the stories of growing up on the traplines. I've never experienced
any of these places, but I feel I have because of all the stories. Although I've been out
hunting, fishing and picking berries.
Today our communities lively hood still depends on the surrounding nature. We use
the trees to keep our families warm in the winter, the certain plants for our medicines,
in which we use in our ceremonies and when we are ill.
Every year my mother has taken me out to pick the berries and each time I notice the
forest disappears more and more. This year it was only a 15 minute ride before it began to
look like a desert. I felt this emptiness inside me. It was like it wasn't only the trees
being chopped away, it was also my culture.
There have been other logging companys here before but they would cut and plant, which
made it unnoticeable. Now it has become so massive that it has become a shock, almost at
the state of emergency. It's like coming home and finding your house is gone. Can you
imagine what the animals must feel like?"
I think about it and I realize my son is only 4 years of age and he has already heard
the moose calling in fall and he has tasted the sweetness of the berries and the meat. The
thing that makes me sad though is that he might not remember those experiences.
He won't remember the freshness of the air, the rich flavours of the wild berries and
meat. Instead he'll think that weiners are the best meat around and the sweetest berries
will be the ones with the artificial flavours.
Our waters already have been contaminated with mercury, our sacred grounds have been
flooded, our berries are being sprayed with chemicals every year, and our forest
disappears more and more each day, which has caused alot of social, health and economic
problems, and most of all the devastation of our ojibway culture.
Our TRADITIONAL LAND USE AREA spans 2,500 square miles outside of the reserves 14
square miles. Most of this has already been cut and we are trying to save what-ever is
left of our forest. Our battle is against a big company called Abitibi Consolidated which
originated in the United States of America. So far we have been creating awareness and
protesting. Still the Ministry of Natural Resources has approved for the clearcutting to
The information I had recieved was on the forest management five year plan based on how
they are regenerating the forest,also to keep animals in certain habitats and the Aerial
spraying is supposed to kill off any competing plantation. In other words it's just
another excuse for them to cut the forest down.
I totally disagree with everything they say. To me it's all a bunch of B.S. The
chemical is supposed to be harmless. They say you can't walk where they have sprayed but
you can eat the berries. Apparently the chemical is 2,4,D , which was used in the Vietnam
war to defoliate the jungle.Also leaving patches of trees for the animals to live in, it's
like making reserves. Are they gonna give them Treaty rights too? In my eyes it is a
massacre of the lands. If mother earth wants to regenerate the forest then I believe she'd
do it her way.
I think other races are lucky because if they begin to lose thier culture they can go
back to thier countrys and relearn thier cutures. But where do we go? To a place where
there is nothing left? or a place we fought for and won back before we let a company take
it all away from us.
To me it's like if a stranger came into your home with an axe and threatens your family
and yourself and carrys on to loot your home of whatever he wants, he is commiting what is
recognized by law and morality as a crime. In a situation like this you have the right to
defend yourself, your family and your property by whatever means are necessary. The right
and this obligation is universally recognized, justified and even praised by all
civilized communities. Self defense against attack is one of the basic laws not only by
human society but of life itself not only of human life but of all life. The Whiskey Jack
forest is now undergoing such an assault.
This is why I feel that this is a battle I need to fight, for my culture, my
backgroundand for the generations still to come. My purpose for this article is to gt the
word out there and to get the support we need. Thank you for your time and support.
From a youth that cares,