July 30, 2008

In Canada, RAN is caring for the earth !!

Dear Virginia,

I have huge news: The Ontario government recently announced plans to protect 56 million acres of northern Canada's Boreal forest -- an area half the size of California -- from all industry.

The protected area falls entirely within the traditional territories of 36 First Nations communities, and the plan will protect at least 50 percent of Ontario's roadless northern Boreal region.

If properly implemented, the commitment -- which requires community "support" for new forestry and mines and local planning "done in agreement" with First Nations -- could be a leap forward in respecting the right of Indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent over land use decisions on their territories.

Your support has allowed RAN to campaign in solidarity with First Nation communities in Canada for the past four years, and this announcement is by far the biggest step we have ever seen towards protecting both Canada's Boreal forest and the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

This development would never have happened if not for the power that First Nations communities like Grassy Narrows, KI, Ardoch, and Six Nations have built in Ontario with help from RAN supporters like you and from allied organizations across the continent.

During the past four years, RAN and our network of activists, members, and allies across the U.S. and Canada have supported this struggle through building awareness, grassroots action, and by funding the campaign.

Like I said, this is big news, but there are still several outstanding questions about the announcement, and a long road ahead to implementing these promises and building on them. RAN just joined a broad coalition of environmental, labor, faith-based and human rights organizations calling for Ontario's premier to implement this plan with full respect for Indigenous rights.

It is crucial that local land use planning proceed only in agreement with First Nations, and that the broader plan for conservation and development in the northern Boreal forest and throughout the province also be developed and implemented with First Nations? consent at its foundation.

Your support for this campaign, and for the broader movement, is invaluable. This announcement is a major milestone, but the work goes on as these communities continue to assert their sovereignty, reclaim their territories and livelihoods, heal their people, and care for the Earth. They are setting a bold example for the world to follow, and I hope you will continue to stand in solidarity and support the movement for justice and the environment.

Thank you for your support.

David Sone
Old Growth Campaigner
Rainforest Action Network

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