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SEPTEMBER 25, 2007

Blockader in the news again

Former Temagami protestor Minnijean Brown Trickey is in the news today, but this time over the fiftieth anniversary of the civil rights confrontation in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Jean, as she is known to her friends, was one of nine black students escorted under the protection of the U.S. Army to a newly desegregated high school, a defining moment in American civil rights history, that catapulted her into a public life she did not want.

Decades later Jean was living anonymously in northern Ontario, having left the United States to escape the long shadow of that day. She needed the freedom to become someone other than Little Rock Jean.

Thirty-two years after Little Rock, she stood up again for what she believed and was arrested with her two daughters on the first day of the Red Squirrel Road blockade, September 18, 1989. She was one of the first arrests protesting the road's construction and the logging that would follow.

The night before, a few leaders of the blockade had been standing around the campfire at the protest camp on the Lake Wakimika beach discussing plans with the participants. There was anxiety as we knew the OPP would be there and I was answering questions. When I finished Jean, a director of the Temagami Wilderness Society, stepped forward.

Few of the 200 or so people knew her as one of the Little Rock Nine. Jean never advertised it.

In her soft voice, she spoke passionately about the importance of what we were doing, mesmerizing the crowd.  She concluded: "One person can make a difference. You just have to believe in yourself."


She had escaped for a few moments from Little Rock and been Just Jean. Then the whispering began, and Just Jean was gone.

I hope by returning to Little Rock today and embracing it, she can finally be at peace with the 50-year-old monster.

ó Brian Back, co-founder of the Temagami Wilderness Society


Photo: feast at Changing of the Seasons Ceremony on Obabika Lake, 2007

                                                                                         BILL LAFFERRE

         Preparation for Saturday's feast.

  RELATED STORY: Fall's Seasons ceremony set

BACKGROUND:  Alex Mathias

                        Spirit Rock

  GATHERING PHOTOS:   2002   2004   2005  2006


SEPTEMBER 20, 2007

Fall gathering hits record attendance

A record crowd of 116 attended the seventh annual Changing of the Seasons Ceremony on Obabika Lake over the weekend.

Nishnabai elder Alex Mathias hosts the event during the fall equinox on his family's traditional territory near Spirit Rock, a sacred site.








SEPTEMBER 16, 2007

Wolf Lake old growth may be logged

The Minister of Natural Resources says the world's largest remaining old-growth red pine forest, intended as a park, may be opened to logging.

David Ramsay stated in a letter that the ministry has proposed ending the park plan and removing its current protection, which "would likely permit forest access, harvest and renewal." He was responding to a letter of concern from the public.

The old growth was slated for inclusion in the adjoining Chiniguchi River Waterway Park by the Conservative government of Mike Harris in 1999. In the interim, it was given forest-reserve status that prohibited logging.

However, the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, is under 20-year, renewable mining leases, pre-dating the reserve, and the government has rejected their purchase.

Flag Resources, an Alberta penny stock, holds the leases and some adjoining claims. It is the umbrella for a feisty prospector Murdo McLeod who has been intermittently exploring the area for over two decades. Occasionally he issues a press release promising an exciting discovery, but never comes through. Flag's shares were delisted in 2005.

The forest reserve does not prevent mineral exploration or mining, but a park does. A reserve, however, discourages financial investment as mining in one would be controversial and more costly.

Wildlands League had been part of a group that met with the Ontario Prospectors Association to work out a solution for 110 conflicts in protected areas across Ontario. No compromise could be found over eight of them, including Wolf Lake.

Wildlands League opposed ending its protection. "Itís absurd for the province to even be thinking about removing the forest reserve designation," says Evan Ferrari.

Ontario has proposed protecting an equal-sized area nearby as a replacement. "We will never support the removal of protection," says Mike McIntosh of Friends of Chiniguchi. "This cannot be replaced."

Friends has been promised a meeting with MNR before any decisions are made.

Normally politicians avoid taking controversial stances during an election. It is likely the minister believes this is just another walk in the park.

But the solution seems obvious and straightforward. "They should just wait," says Ferrari, "for the leases to expire and turn it into a park."

  RELATED STORIES: New Chiniguchi Park

                               Wolf Lake old growth defence launched

BACKGROUND: Old Growth In-depth

                        Largest old-growth red pine forests

  EXTERNAL LINKS:   Friends of Chiniguchi

                              Wildlands League   

Photo: Volunteers moving boulders into Aston Creek to create a walleye spawning area on Lake Temagami, 2007

                                                                                                            GAYE SMITH

Volunteers moving boulders into Aston Creek to create a walleye spawning area. In the background is the Red Squirrel Road near Whitefish Bay. The poor placement of the downstream culvert exit above the level of the creek bed assured the end of the walleye spawning bed upstream of this point. Walleye are a "lazy" fish, as Gaye Smith calls them, and will not do a salmon leap into the culvert.


Aston Creek spawning area rebuilt

The Temagami Stewardship Council pulled off one of the most significant fishery projects in recent years on Lake Temagami by rebuilding the Aston Creek walleye spawning ground.

Spawning has been non-existent since at least 1988, when Gaye Smith of the group believes a culvert was placed under the Red Squirrel Road. Its poor placement prevented walleye from travelling upstream to their spawning area.

Volunteers placed six-inch boulders in the creek, downstream of the road and the old spawning ground. Eggs will fall into the gaps where they will be protected from predators. The moving water of the creek will provide sufficient oxygen. 


The Council funded the project with the assistance of Caldwell Sand and Gravel of New Liskeard, which provided and delivered the boulders. Volunteers did the work on August 14.

Ironically, the spawning bed was lost and never restored through MNR's negligence, and repaired by a group that the ministry spurned earlier this year by cutting its funding. Say it ain't so, Mr. Ramsay.

  EXTERNAL LINK:  Temagami Stewardship Council

  RELATED STORIES: Stewardship Council gets funding ultimatum


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