Like this podcast? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.
Almost half a century ago, a pulp and paper company dumped tons of mercury into the English Wabigoon River system in Northwestern Ontario.
The health and livelihood of people of the Grassy Narrows Reserve between Kenora and Winnipeg is still being harmed these many years later. The mercury is still buried in the sediment of lakes and rivers, and the effects of the poison continues to harm the health of people in the community.
A delegation from the Grassy Narrow Reserve north of Kenora travelled to Toronto this week to call on Ontario Premier Wynne to finally clean up the toxic, dangerous mess.
Three days of events began on May 31. It was held at Ryerson University, and featured elders from the community; activist and journalist Avi Lewis; and Grassy Narrows Youth performing their original song, "Home to Me."
Order of speakers:
Opening: Andrea Chrisjon
Chief Simon Fobister Sr: Simon Fobister Sr. has been Chief of Grassy Narrows for most of the last decade and during the 1980s. He has been a strong advocate for mercury justice, and for control over Grassy Narrows' forests and community affairs. He brings a depth of knowledge and first hand experience as a leader in a community that has been hit hard by mercury poison and has emerged as a leading voice for environmental justice and Indigenous rights. He is the father of 5 sons and many grandchildren. He is a hunter/trapper and knows the land very well and is also a very gentle man.
Judy Da Silva: Judy da Silva is a member of the Grassy Narrows First Nations Community and internationally recognized environmental activist. In 2013, she received Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee to honour her efforts to halt and reverse the environmental destruction of the Grassy Narrows traditional territory. She also went to the United Nations in Geneva this year to make a presentation to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, presenting the case that Canada had failed to protect their community's right to safe drinking water.
Youth performance: Song: Home to Me
Youth singer (Darwin) speaks
Avi Lewis: Avi Lewis is one of Canada's most eloquent and controversial media personalities. He is the director of the feature documentaries This Changes Everything (2015) and The Take (2004). He has also been a local news reporter, music journalist, debate show host, documentary filmmaker, public speaker, and activist. In all of these roles, he has created space to bring more radical voices and ideas to the mainstream for over 25 years.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.