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Minister visits Grassy Narrows

Tuesday July 31, 2012

In response to last month’s 2,000 kilometre walk by Grassy Narrows youth, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne is visiting Grassy Narrows to hear the community’s concerns over mercury poisoning.

“Because of the River Run rally, she made a promise to the youth that she would come to visit Grassy Narrows,” said Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister. “And she has lived up to that promise.”

Wynne, along with representatives of Ontario’s ministry of health and ministry of environment, arrived in Grassy Narrows on July 31.

She will be involved in a community meeting and a meeting with the community’s leadership during the day.

A group of Grassy Narrows youth held the River Run March and Rally on June 8 in Toronto after walking about 2,000 kilometres from their Treaty #3 community in northwestern Ontario.

The youth held their walk and River Run to raise awareness of the chemical dumping and mercury poisoning that has affected their community as well as neighbouring Treaty #3 communities of Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) and Wabauskang. The Dryden paper mill dumped about 10 tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon River about 50 years ago, resulting in long-term impacts to the environment and the health of community members.

Fobister said concerns will be raised with Wynne by community members about mercury poisoning and the ongoing effects of mercury poisoning during her visit.

“We want better medical supports and also we want the mercury disability board to start functioning as it should,” Fobister said. “Our members are not getting as much compensation as they should be.”

Wynne said her visit is a chance to start a dialogue between the government and the community.

“The message is that we want to work with Grassy Narrows,” Wynne said. “I am very interested in getting this right.”

Wynne said that along with Ontario, Health Canada should be involved in dealing with the issues that the community faces.

“I’d like to be supportive for getting Health Canada engaged,” Wynne said.

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Mercury poisoning is

Mercury poisoning is unforgivable. I work with two young ladies from grassy Narrows, and can not believe that what happened to them could have been prevented. One is in a wheelchair and is suffering at the mill's cost!

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