Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Grassy Narrows

    May 25, 2018
    Chief Rudy Turtle, Dr. Donna Mergler and Judy Da Silva outside Queen's Park

    Chief Rudy Turtle of the Grassy Narrows First Nation describes a community that was once able to thrive from living on the land. But all that changed in the 1960s when the waterways flowing through this northern Ontario community were poisoned by mercury dumped by an upstream pulp mill. 

    Now, after decades of struggle to draw attention to their situation, a new report released by the First Nation conclusively demonstrates just how devastating that harm has been.

    The report, based on an extensive household survey of community members, compares key dimensions of health at Grassy Narrows to other First Nations and to the general population.

    What the report depicts is one of the worst community health crises in Canada.

    March 21, 2018

    “You look at the lake, it looks good, it looks clean, the fish look all right. How to believe that something like that could turn against you?” – former Grassy Narrows Chief Steve Fobister Sr. quoted in the Toronto Star

     

    Steve Fobister. Bill Fobister. Judy Da Silva. These are some of the leaders and activists from Grassy Narrows who have played a critical in shaping and informing Amnesty International’s longstanding campaign for justice for that First Nation.

    They are all, in every sense of the word, human rights champions.

    They also, all three, suffer from the devastating, debilitating impacts of mercury poisoning.

    And they are not alone.

    February 13, 2017
    Allan Lissner/FreeGrassy.net

     “I thank the grassroots people of Grassy Narrows, and our supporters who have been tireless in their work to gain justice for mercury survivors at long last.” -- Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister

    The province of Ontario has just made a public commitment to clean up the river system on which the people of Grassy Narrows depend.

    The announcement follows a meeting between Premier Kathleen Wynne and the people of Grassy Narrows last Friday.

    The province’s commitment reportedly includes a promise that the river clean up will be led by the people of Grassy Narrows themselves.

    Grassy Narrows is the site of one of the worst incidents of industrial pollution in Canada. A half century ago, an upstream pulp and paper mill was allowed to dump tonnes of mercury into the river system. The people of Grassy Narrows are still dealing with the disastrous impacts on their health and way of life.

    January 17, 2017

    By Craig Benjamin

    It’s information that the Ontario government could – and should – have brought to light, but failed to do so.

    Last year, the provincial government stated that it had not been able to find any evidence to support claims by a former millworker that barrels of mercury had been buried at a site upstream from the Grassy Narrows First Nation and might now be leaching into their water system.

    Last week, however, the Toronto Star reported that members of the environmental NGO Earthroots had conducted their own soil tests at a location identified by the mill worker and found mercury levels as much as 80 times higher than normal. The findings were replicated by tests done by the Toronto Star. Scientists who reviewed the finding said there was little doubt that this was industrial mercury.

    The story is particularly concerning because it is the latest revelation of Ontario’s persistent and shocking disregard for the basic safety and well-being of the people of Grassy Narrows.

    June 21, 2016

    By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Think about this.

    A community devastated by the massive release of mercury into the rivers on which they depend.

    Credible scientific studies showing that a half century later the people are still suffering from the debilitating effects of mercury poisoning and that even their children are being harmed.

    Further studies that show that the mercury is not going away and that fish from the river will continue to be unsafe for years to come unless something is done.

    New allegations that an illegal toxic dump near the river could increase the mercury contamination ten-fold and leave the river unsafe for almost a century to come.

    This is the story of the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario. It’s a situation that cries out for justice.

    Now consider how the federal and provincial governments have responded.

    June 21, 2016

    The government of Ontario has demonstrated shocking indifference to the lives and well-being of the people of the Grassy Narrows First Nation who are suffering the devastating consequences of mercury dumped into their river system a half century ago. A story published this week in the Toronto Star revealed that the ongoing threat to Grassy Narrows may be even worse than previously known, and the province’s failure even greater.

    In the 1960s, the Ontario government allowed a Dryden pulp mill to release approximately 9 metric tonnes of mercury into the English and Wabigoon river system. According to the story published in the Star this week, a former mill employee mill has now alleges that after the province finally stopped the mercury dumping in 1971, an additional 50 barrels of salt and liquid mercury were illegally buried in a plastic lined pit where it could be leaching into the river.

    May 25, 2016

     

    By Craig Benjamin

    "Clean the English-Wabigoon River System. Water is sacred." Judy da Silva, Grassy Narrows First Nation

    Subscribe to Grassy Narrows