Casework: Grassy Narrows First Nation and Environmental Injustice

Over many decades, the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario has experienced the direct and cumulative effects of various industrial and resource extraction activities that have adversely affected human health, degraded the environment, and impacted Grassy Narrows’ treaty rights and way of life. These activities include:

  • the massive discharge of mercury from an upstream mill into the English-Wabigoon river system that flows through the Grassy Narrows territory;
  • the hydro-electric dam project that flooded Grassy Narrows territory; and
  • the clearcutting of forests within Grassy Narrows territory

Photo credit: Toronto Star

Legal Submissions

In relation to forestry operations, CELA has previously commenced Charter-based litigation on behalf of Grassy Narrows in order to challenge a forest management plan that allows clearcutting in the territory. Following commencement of this litigation, Ontario subsequently committed that no logging would occur on the Disputed Area of the Territory for the duration of the 2012-2022 FMP and the judicial review has since been held in abeyance

More recently, the Ontario government has issued nine permits that allow mining exploration activities to occur within Grassy Narrows territory. However, prior to the issuance of the permits, the Ontario government did not notify, consult with, or obtain the consent of Grassy Narrows.

Accordingly, Grassy Narrows has instructed lawyers at CELA and Cavalluzzo LLP to seek judicial review of these permits. Among other things, the judicial review application (see below) asks the court to quash or set aside the permits on the grounds that they contravene constitutional, administrative, and Grassy Narrows law.