grassy narrows -- my spirit name is southern Wind Woman. I come from the Lynx clan. I am a youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong, the Ojibway name for Grassy Narrows, which is located 80 kilometres north of Kenora.I've always thought it was a beautiful place to live. I've heard a lot of stories about how our people used to live at the old reserve, before it was relocated in 1962. The reserve was moved so it would have access to a road, and a school, hydro, running water and a sewer system were promised. I've also heard the stories of growing up on the traplines.
Today our community's livelihood still depends on the surrounding nature. We use wood from the trees to keep our families warm in winter, certain plants for our medicines, others in our ceremonies.
Every year my mother has taken me out to pick berries and each time the forest seems to be disappearing more rapidly. This year it was only a 15-minute ride before the landscape began to look like a desert. I felt this emptiness inside. It's not only the trees being chopped away, it's my culture.
Other logging companies have come here before, but they would cut and plant, which made it less noticeable. Now it's a shock. I can only imagine what the animals must feel like.
My son, who is only 4 years of age, has heard the moose calling in fall and tasted the sweetness of the berries and the meat. If things continue as they are, he might not remember those experiences. It makes me sad.
Our waters have already been contaminated with mercury, our sacred burial grounds flooded. Our Ojibway culture is being devastated.
Our traditional territory spans 1,200 square kilometres outside of the reserve. Most of this has already been cut by private interests like Abitibi Consolidated. We have been creating awareness and protesting, but still the Ministry of Natural Resources allows the clear-cutting to carry on.
Aerial spraying by logging companies (they say it's to keep down competing vegetation) is killing our berries. The chemical is supposed to be harmless. They say we can still eat the berries, even though they tell us we can't walk where they have sprayed. A massacre of our lands is taking place right before our very eyes.
I think of how lucky other races are. If they begin to lose their culture, they can go back to the country they came from to relearn it. But where do we go?