The question about endangered totem poles is more interesting than the one that concerns whether the Grassy Narrows First Nation should be stopped from extracting some of its resources from within its reserve.
Grassy Narrows chief Bobby Cameron says his people need access to these resources in order to continue to survive as a First Nation. Cameron’s statements as the story became headline news late this week echo a 1993 period when the town, Athabasca, and the province imposed a 20-year moratorium on all mining within the Grassy Narrows reserve while a compensation package was negotiated.
The treaty that created Grassy Narrows is 27 years old, but Cameron and his people argue that is not long enough to heal the trust breakdown that occurred between them and the province when Athabasca mined six million tons of the region’s taconite between 1983 and 1990. Cameron says the cause of that trust breakdown was the refusal of the province to address the impact of that mine on his community.