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This article was published 28/5/2010 (3796 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba aboriginal leaders demanded a historic deal protecting millions of hectares of forest be torn up or they would prevent firms from logging on native land.
Ten First Nations in Manitoba have land that is part of last week's Boreal Forest Agreement between 21 lumber companies and nine environmental organizations.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper said MKO would tell those First Nations to suspend any deals with logging companies unless they drop out of the deal.
Harper was joined by Misipawistik Cree Nation Chief Ovide Mercredi, Mathias Colomb Cree Nation Chief Arlen Dumas, Mosakahiken Cree Nation Chief Jim Tobacco and AFN regional chief Bill Traverse.
Harper said they would take their fight across the country. "This is our livelihood -- this is our home."
The boreal forest pact protects 72 million hectares of public forests licensed to the Forest Products Association across Canada. About 13 million hectares are in Manitoba.
The deal commits to a ban on harvesting or road-building on 10 million hectares of forest in Manitoba for three years while a deal to protect species such as woodland caribou is carved out.
In return, Greenpeace and other environmental groups agreed to suspend "do not buy" campaigns, which target Canadian forestry companies.
When the agreement was announced last Tuesday, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Ron Evans said he was "very encouraged."
However, Mercredi called the deal -- signed by three forestry companies that operate here: Tembec, Tolko Industries and Louisiana-Pacific Canada -- "a secret deal done secretly.
"In many ways this was done to bring peace between the companies and the environmental groups because the environmental movement was affecting the market of the forestry companies. What they forgot to ask themselves was who owns that land? For some reason they forgot to invite us."
Dumas said the agreement affects about 68 per cent of his community's land.
"This does nothing but further shackle our impoverished communities," he said.
"It will raise unemployment. It's almost an onslaught on our communities.
Spokespeople for Tembec, Louisiana-Pacific, and Tolko could not be reached for comment. But Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Manitoba division of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, one of the nine groups that signed the deal, said they plan to work with First Nations.
"The CBFA is a primarily a truce between environmental groups and forestry companies," Thiessen said.
We fully respect that ultimately land use decisions are made between First Nations and other Canadian governments."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 3:51 PM CDT: Corrects name of Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Manitoba division of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
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