First Nations take Manitoba and Louisiana-Pacific to court to protect forests from logging

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Trees knocked over and a pool of water collecting on the side of a logging road inside Duck Mountain Provincial Park | Eric Reder

Two First Nations have again sued the Manitoba government and Louisiana-Pacific Corporation over logging in the Duck Mountain region of Manitoba. The legal claim details a long list of problems, including negligent and absent forest management, violations of the First Nations’ constitutional rights to consultation when Manitoba extended Louisiana-Pacific’s logging licence in March 2024, and well documented broken promises from the provincial government.

First Nations should not have to sue the Manitoba government to make them follow the law! The Wilderness Committee commends Minegoziibe Anishinabe and Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation for their work to ensure forests and moose populations are cared for.

The two communities have both separately filed legal action after the Manitoba government extended the rights of Louisiana-Pacific to continue to log in the Duck Mountain region. Both legal cases will proceed on May 30, 2024 in Winnipeg.

A primary problem with the operations of Louisiana-Pacific in the Duck Mountain region, brought forth by the First Nations in this legal action, is the lack of a Forest Management Plan (FMP). From the Wuskwi Sipihk court filing:
“5. For almost two decades, Manitoba has failed to enforce critical conditions of Louisiana-Pacific's forestry authorizations, including by allowing Louisiana-Pacific to operate in FML 3 without an approved FMP.”

The Wilderness Committee documented this problem in our Duck Mountain Region audit, released in 2023.  
“The original contentious 10-year Forest Management Plan for Louisiana-Pacific’s operation expired on January 1, 2006 and Louisiana-Pacific has not had an approved forest management plan since. Every year or so when the licence expires, the government grants them an extension with no public review.
Long-term forest management plans allow the public and government experts to ensure public lands are properly cared for. Louisiana-Pacific has gone 17 years without an approved plan. This indicates either incompetence by the provincial government or a lack of resources and attention to the problem.”

Several sections of the Wuskwi Sipihk filing call out the impacts of logging on moose populations, and the failure of Louisiana-Pacific and the Manitoba governments to ensure logging plans better care for moose (moswa in Cree). 
From the filing:
“33. Manitoba has identified the cumulative effect of human activities, including resource development, as a critical factor contributing to the decline of moswa populations in Manitoba.”

In addition to authorizing logging without a plan, the constitutionally required consultation with First Nations did not occur. From the Wuskwi Sipihk filing:
“118. Manitoba did not consult Wuskwi Sipihk or take steps to address the impacts of the Forestry Activities on Wuskwi Sipihk's Treaty rights prior to issuing the March 2024 Decisions.
119. The March 2024 Decisions do not include any conditions, restrictions, or limitations on forestry activities in FML 3 in response to Wuskwi Sipihk's concerns regarding the impacts of Louisiana-Pacific's activities on its Treaty rights or the deficiencies in the proposed FMP.”

Finally, in the court filings from Wuskwi Sipihk, there is an explicit record of broken promises over the last few months from our new Manitoba government as well as the last couple years from the last Manitoba government.  

You can support these communities in their push for proper forest care by writing a letter to the government with the tool below. The legal action has been adjourned until June 21, 2024.

More from this campaign
The sun shining through trees in Duck Mountain Provincial Park
The sun shining through trees in Duck Mountain Provincial Park [Eric Reder]
Uninstalled culverts sit beside damaged creek in Duck Mountain Provincial Park
Uninstalled culverts sit beside damaged creek in Duck Mountain Provincial Park [Eric Reder]
A yellow canoe sits on the lower Bird River during a foggy sunrise
A yellow canoe sits on the lower Bird River during a foggy sunrise [Eric Reder]