Yesterday our Old Growth Campaign won a major victory! We have been supporting the Indigenous community of Grassy Narrows in their struggle to protect their traditional territory. As the result of mounting pressure – including pressure from our recent day of action targeting Office Max, and actions like the sit-in at Ohio State University (which you can keep up with here, here, here, and here), Boise announced yesterday that they are refusing to purchase stolen wood that comes from Grassy. This is big. Millions of dollars big.
Annie Sartor explains what all this means below:
Great News for the Old Growth Campaign!
What happened: Boise announced yesterday that they will suspend purchasing from Grassy Narrows. AbitibiBowater, one of Canada’s largest logging companies, clear-cuts trees from Grassy Narrow’s traditional territory in northwestern Ontario, and sells pulp from these trees to Boise. Boise makes paper from this pulp and sells a huge percentage of it to OfficeMax in the United States and Grand & Toy in Canada. Boise has done exactly what we have been asking them to do – they have publicly supported a moratorium in Grassy Narrows, and committed to stop purchasing pulp that is coming from Grassy Narrows. Hooray!
What this means: Boise’s announcement that they will stop purchasing pulp that comes from Grassy Narrows means that RAN’s campaign pressure on OfficeMax and Grand & Toy worked! OfficeMax and Grand & Toy are the retail arms of Boise – Boise relies on them to sell its office paper products. RAN sent a clear message to OfficeMax and Grand & Toy that they needed to stop selling paper products that are made from trees stolen from Indigenous territory. They clearly got the message and now Boise is committing to remove pulp from Grassy Narrows from its products – meaning that copy paper sold by OfficeMax and Grand & Toy that they buy from Boise will not be from Grassy Narrows. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated in the international day of action against OfficeMax and Grand & Toy on January 30th (just a few weeks ago!)
What’s next? We are still deciding on our next steps – this announcement is a bit of a surprise and we are adjusting our strategy right now. The community in Grassy Narrows is still demanding a moratorium of all industrial activity on their traditional territory (including logging), and while Boise’s announcement is a great milestone for our campaign, we will continue to campaign in support of Grassy Narrow’s moratorium demand. Our primary concern right now is to publicize Boise’s commitment to get out of Grassy Narrows, and to use this announcement to put pressure on Weyerhaeuser and AbitibiBowater to follow Boise’s lead and suspend their involvement in Grassy Narrows as well.
We intend to reorganize our campaign plans over the next couple of days to ensure that we maximize the effects of Boise’s announcement and put added pressure on AbitibiBowater and Weyerhaeuser, the two companies that are still involved in Grassy narrows. If you have ideas, thoughts or input as to what the Old Growth campaign’s next steps should be please let us know! Now is a great time to weigh in with great ideas. A moratorium in Grassy Narrows is in our sights and creative thinking and clever ideas are definitely encouraged during this critical moment!
Thank You Thank You to everyone who has supported the Old Growth campaign! I am so happy to share the news of this milestone, and I hope that we can celebrate an even bigger victory in the near future.
For Immediate Release Contact: Sam Haswell, 415.659.0519
February 28, 2008 David Sone, 415.659.0510
Rainforest Action Network:
Boise Inc. to Suspend Purchasing From Grassy Narrows
SAN FRANCISCO – Addressing longstanding concerns raised by northwest Ontario’s Grassy Narrows First Nation, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), and a coalition of allies, Boise Inc. has notified logging company AbitibiBowater that it will cease purchasing wood fiber logged from Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory in the Whiskey Jack Forest without the Indigenous community’s consent.
According to a letter from Boise to environmental certifiers dated Feb. 27, the company “wishes to honor the request of [Grassy Narrows] Chief [Simon] Fobister to discontinue sourcing fiber from the Traditional Use Area of Grassy Narrows.” Boise’s landmark decision comes just four weeks prior to an expected report from former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci on negotiations with the community over the same concerns.
In a 2007 report, Amnesty International concluded that clear-cut logging within Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory without consent constitutes human rights violations against the Grassy Narrows people. The community has strongly opposed clear-cut logging, citing its constitutional and treaty rights to preserve its territory for traditional uses such as hunting and trapping.
“It’s gratifying to see a major wood products manufacturer like Boise align its purchasing practices with respect for human rights,” said Brant Olson, director of RAN’s Old Growth Campaign. “We urge Weyerhaeuser and AbitibiBowater to follow Boise’s lead and withdraw from Grassy Narrows until consent from the community is established.”
RAN has been collaborating since 2004 with the Grassy Narrows First Nation, which in January 2007 called for a moratorium on all industrial uses of its territory that occur without its free, prior and informed consent. RAN has been engaged in negotiations with Boise and has organized public demonstrations at OfficeMax and Grand & Toy, major buyers of Boise paper products, to encourage support for Grassy Narrows’ call for a moratorium.
Boise’s commitment leaves Washington-based lumber giant Weyerhaeuser as AbitibiBowater’s highest-profile purchaser of wood obtained from Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory.
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break America’s oil addiction, reduce our reliance on coal, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action.