Momentous decision to right historic wrong at Grassy Narrows –

The hopeful resolution to Grassy Narrows’ nightmare is thanks to the people of Grassy Narrows themselves: elders, hunters and trappers, fishers, mothers and youth who have campaigned tirelessly for decades to get environmental toxins cleaned from the river, so they can once again eat its fish and practice their culture without fear of getting sick.

The story of Grassy Narrows in Ontario is like something ripped from a Hollywood blockbuster. But it’s not just a story. It’s real life. Health studies by Japanese experts have concluded that 90 per cent of people tested in Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) Independent Nations have symptoms of mercury poisoning, including numbness in fingertips and lips, loss of coordination, trembling and other terrible neuromuscular conditions. Many children suffer from mercury-related developmental problems, which continue into adulthood.

On Feb. 13, the provincial government announced it will clean up the English-Wabigoon watershed in northwestern Ontario of toxic mercury pollution, which has wreaked havoc on First Nations communities in the region. Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong are downstream from one of the worst toxic sites in Canada — the former Reed Paper mill in Dryden, Ont.

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