Grassy Narrows woman awarded peace prize in Germany

(From left) James Jakob Fehr, Iruwa DaSilva, Barbara Fobister, Judy DaSilva
Release date: 
Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Germany – Judy DaSilva, a First Nations woman from Grassy Narrows, Ontario, Canada, has been awarded the Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee.

“We want to award the prize to Judy DaSilva in order to honour the nonviolent resistance of the Grassy Narrows First Nation against the destruction of nature and for the preservation of their indigenous culture,” said James Jakob Fehr of the German Mennonite Peace Committee.

DaSilva is a mother of five children and has organized countless youth gatherings, women's gatherings, protests, speaking tours and participated in blockades to advocate for justice and a healthy environment. Her humble, passionate and relentless advocacy has resulted in a suspension of logging on Grassy Narrows territory for nearly five years.

While in Germany Judy spoke throughout the country to promote Grassy Narrows' grassroots boycott of Weyerhaeuser Corporation – the only multi-national logging company in the region that refuses to respect Grassy Narrows' right to say no to logging.

The prize ceremony took place on 20 May in the resplendent rococo Princes’ Hall of the Abbey of St. Peter in the Black Forest near Freiburg, Germany. The prize, named after a 16th century Anabaptist leader, acknowledges groups or individuals who work for peace, for nonviolent Christian witness, for reconciliation work or for dialogue between religions. The German members of the Peace Committee first learned about these struggles during a delegation to Grassy Narrows that they co-organized with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

"I am delighted that Judy DaSilva and Grassy Narrows have been recognized for their courageous and committed leadership," said Peter Haresnape of Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada. "Thank you, Judy, for your continued defence of your land and people and for welcoming others to support this work."

"We the Chief and Council of Grassy Narrows were very pleased to hear that Judy DaSilva has been chosen to receive the Michael Sattler Peace Prize from Germany. Judy devotes her free time and her life to living her values as a protector of our natural environment," said Lucille McKenzie, Council Woman of Grassy Narrows First Nation.

"Grassy Narrows is currently in the process of appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada to hear the Keewatin Case, also known as Trappers' litigation, which asserts the inherent rights of our people to the land for hunting and trapping. The Keewatin Case has also been a driver for the province to raise its standards in the consultation and accommodation of our people," said McKenzie.

The governments of Canada and Ontario have long ignored the rights of Grassy Narrows peoples on their traditional homeland, imposing industrial extraction that has led to mercury poisoning, and loss of culture. The governments only recognize Grassy Narrows jurisdiction on the small reserve which includes only a tiny portion of the territory.

Article submitted by Dr. James Jakob Fehr, director of the Deutsches Mennonitisches Friedenskomitee (German Mennonite Peace Committee)


Geographic representation: 
North America