The Indigenous community of Grassy Narrows in north-western Ontario, Canada, has experienced decades of suffering and dislocation. This has included, among other violations of their rights, flooding of their traditional territory leading to the loss of wild rice crops, wildlife habitat and heritage sites; relocation of the community; mercury contamination of the river system; and, most recently, large-scale logging throughout much of their homeland.
There are more than 1,200 registered members of the Asubpeeshoseewagong Netum Anishinaabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation). Like many First Nations’ reserves across Canada, Grassy Narrows faces high unemployment (as high as 80 or 90 per cent), poor and overcrowded housing, and other inadequate and underfunded services and community infrastructure. In stark contrast to the standard of living enjoyed by most Canadians, many of the people of Grassy Narrows live in conditions of extreme poverty and poor health.
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