Grassy Narrows supporters march on premier’s home
Indigenous women demanding action from Premier Kathleen Wynne to end ongoing mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows. Hundreds of supporters marched to the Premier’s house in Toronto.
Hundreds of Grassy Narrows supporters marched on the home of Premier Kathleen Wynne this past weekend over mercury poisoning in the Treaty #3 community’s homelands.
“The government has taken away our forests and given us back disease and sickness and death,” said Judy Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows clan mother.
“Wynne promised to help us, but she did not take that commitment seriously. It is time for Ontario to listen to our people when we say no to logging that brings more mercury poison into our rivers and our bodies.”
Discovered in the 1970s, the mercury poisoning still affects community members, according to mercury poisoning experts from Japan, who observed symptoms such as fatigue and numbness in the limbs, vision difficulties, hearing impairment, headaches and insomnia during a 2010 visit.
“For people in Grassy Narrows there is no vacation from mercury poison,” said Chrissy Swain, a young mother of three in Grassy Narrows.
“We have to live with the sickness of mercury poison in our bodies and in our families every day.”
A wide range of human rights, faith, labour and environmental organizations representing over one million Ontarians have written to Wynne urging her to call an end to unwanted logging on Grassy Narrows territory.
“The people of Grassy Narrows continue to suffer the effects of the mercury contamination of their rivers and streams which was first discovered more than 40 years ago,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
“Industrial clear-cut logging has not only destroyed trap lines and wiped out medicinal plant picking areas, it has almost certainly also contributed to new mercury leaching into their rivers and streams.”
Although the province has been engaged in discussions with Grassy Narrows over the past five years about management of their traditional lands in the Whiskey Jack forest, the Grassy Narrows supporters are concerned about the Ministry of Natural Resources’ recent adoption of a 10-year forest management direction for Grassy Narrows territory that includes no meaningful recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
“The people of Grassy Narrows are owed a debt of justice,” said Shane Moffat of Greenpeace Canada.
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