Barbara Ronson-McNichol and Clyde McNichol
The Council of Canadians Sudbury chapter is mourning the passing of Barbara Ronson-McNichol.
Chapter activist Terri MacKinnon tells us, “Members of the Sudbury Chapter worked with Barbara on her Benny Forest campaign, and saw her at other protests. She was an avid activist for the poor and homeless, too.”
The Sudbury Star reports, “Barbara Ronson-McNichol, a longtime academic and activist from Cartier who devoted the recent years of her life to stopping logging in the Benny forest, has been identified as the pedestrian struck and killed by a train on Highway 144 in Moncrieff Township on Wednesday. Ronson-McNichol, whose Anishinaabe husband Clyde McNichol claims the area of Benny forest as family territory, fought tirelessly to halt logging there, even going to jail for the cause. She was arrested for a second time only this past Monday for blocking a logging road in Benny and was to appear at the Sudbury courthouse next month on charges of mischief and breach of bail conditions.”
The newspaper article highlights, “The McNichols wanted to create a 20-mile radius around Benny to preserve the forest for everyone, not just First Nation people.”
Chapter activist Andre Clement has explained, “The forest is located approximately sixty kilometers, north of Sudbury. Logging operations have been slated for two large tracts of land that are considered by some to be part of contested traditional lands that were not clearly surveyed at the time of treaty negotiations. The chapter supports [efforts] to protect a significant part of the diminishing Boreal Forest that stretches across the northern hemisphere.”
And in August 2015, the Sudbury Star reported, “The spraying of herbicides on replanted forests is raising alarm among First Nations people from west of Blind River to north of Cartier. The Vermilion Forest Management Company maintains the two types of herbicide it applies — a glyphosate of the Roundup family and a Garlon product — only target vegetation that competes with the planted pines and won’t poison water or enter the food chain. Opponents point out glyphosate has been classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organization, and cite research indicating both it, and the triclopyr-based Garlon product, can have dire consequences for fish and frogs.”
In March 2016, the McNichols sought an injunction in the Superior Court of Justice to stop the tree-cutting and spraying of defoliants, but that request was denied the following month by Justice Edward Gareau.
By September of that year, McNichol blocked some trucks on a logging road for a few hours. At that time she wrote, “It’s not something I’m proud of really, but there is too much at stake and I feel terrible for all the bears coming into town because they have lost their habitat from logging and are so hungry.”
As noted in the news article about her passing, McNichol was arrested again for blocking logging trucks on Monday March 20.
The Save the Benny Forest campaign has been calling on both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne to make the forest land in the Benny area a National Park Reserve pending the outcome of Aboriginal land claims by Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, Sagamok or others with an interest in the area.
The Council of Canadians extends its condolences to her husband Clyde, her children Kimberly, Jacqueline and Jamie Ronson, and to all her family and friends.
A short outdoor ceremony will take place on Sunday March 26 at 4 pm at the Community Centre in Cartier, and a memorial service will be held on Wednesday March 29 at 11 am at the Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East in Toronto.