Save the Benny Forest
Camp Eagle Nest is taking leadership in protecting the forest area around its base camp, the ancestral land of Clyde McNichol’s Anishnaabe people, from encroachment by loggers, excavators, herbicide spraying and other disturbances so that all the original plant and animal species can survive in balance and harmony, for the sake of all future generations as well as our campers.
Since April of 2015 we have been standing up requesting that loggers stay clear of the area within 20 miles of Benny where we have our base camp. Elder and former Chief Art Petahtegoose of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Clyde's grandparent's reserve nearby), advised us that family hunting territories were traditionally within a day's walk or about 20 miles from the family village or lodge and that the Crown acknowledged the clan headman's right to define reserve boundaries in treaty negotiations, but the survey work promised around "lands occupied by them" has not yet been completed. In appreciation for what his ancestors fought for in winning acknowledgement of their title to their land in 1763, 1764, 1812, 1850 and other times, Clyde is asserting his rights for the sake of all Anishnawbek people as well as all those who have come to love and value Anishinaabe teachings and culture. Without a healthy forest, the culture cannot be passed down. Camp Eagle Nest will not be able to do the work it set out to do unless Herculean efforts are made to reverse the damage of current forest operation practices across Turtle Island. Clyde wants some of this effort to begin in Benny. He envisions:
a leading edge forest regeneration research centre right in Benny where Indigenous knowledge keepers and university experts collaborate to restore the forest to its original biodiversity.
a preserve big enough so that all the species who have suffered from logging and mining operations in the past can find refuge and restore their families to health, but not so big that it cannot be known and cared for intimately with one's heart as well as mind.
a preserve where Anishnawbek culture and ceremony are widely practiced by many descendants of the Indigenous families who hunted, fished, trapped and gathered across this area in former times and have an interest in it to this day, scattered as they may be now due to historical trauma and travesties such as residential school policies.
But he needs at least some of the old growth areas in tact to begin this work. We have been fighting hard to achieve this against great commercial and political forces against us.
One recent initiative is a proposal to keep the forest in tact as a National Park or Preserve through the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy at least until the resolution of Aboriginal land claims for the area. A copy can be found at:
Another initiative is the production and delivery of a land claim document to Canada and Ontario in January, 2017. It was expected that the cutting would stop at least to give time to consider the claim but this did not happen. The cutting and hauling in Benny is still happening. The land claim as well as a letter of support from former Chief Art Petahtegoose are found below:
Frustrated by the lack of official response from Canadian and Ontario authorities over the past two years, Clyde is planning a trip to England to see if authorities there can help. The treaty agreement Canada and Ontario use to assert their rights to use the land the way they want was made in 1850 between First Peoples and the British Crown authorities, not Canadians, so they are hoping for better assistance there. A fundraiser to help get them to England can be found at:
Alternatively you can make a donation through Paypal or Visa at the link below specifying in your comments that you would like to help the Benny Forest Campaign.
Or you can make a direct deposit into the Benny Forest Campaign account at any branch of the CIBC - account number 00692-3813835. Two signing authorities from among the following community partners are needed to withdraw from this account: Heather Parker, Clarissa Lassaline, Steve Yawney and Barbara Ronson McNichol.
In addition to help for forest regeneration research and activities, artists and investors are needed to help purchase or build facilities and establish a cultural arts cooperative that can help preserve the land in a more natural state. We have snow shoe making equipment, and craft-making supplies such as deer hide, beads, sinew, hole punchers, and quills. We would like to invite artisans with the knowledge and skills to demonstrate a Native craft such as snow shoe making, basket-making, flute-making, moccasin-making, and canoe-making to come forward to consider a collaboration next summer.
Call Barbara or Clyde at 705-690-3844 for more details.
Please also consider joining our Facebook page for updates and to show your support.
Thank you, Chi Miigwech for your interest and consideration!
65 Spencer Ave.Box 104, Cartier, ON P0M 1J0 (across street from train station)
E-Mail: campeaglenest [at] gmail [dot] com