A grandmother from Grassy Narrows First Nation says it’s time for the Ontario government to clean up mercury poisoning in the waterways that run near her community.
Judy DaSilva, 54, environmental health co-ordinator for Grassy Narrows First Nation, told CBC’s Metro Morning on Thursday that mercury poisoning in the Wabigoon River has sickened many members of the community, and that the Ontario government has refused to act despite several reports.
The river was contaminated in the 1960s when an estimated 9,000 kilograms of mercury were dumped into the river by a pulp and paper mill in Dryden, Ont. “We are not valuable enough to be considered,” she said. “We, as Indigenous people, are expendable. And that’s why the poison is allowed to be still in the river. Money is more important than us,” DaSilva said.
“You can’t see the mercury, but we know it’s in there. Being a land-based people and a river people historically, it has been devastating through time,” she said. “It has taken time for us to be where we are today.”
DaSilva spoke before members of the band rallied on the grounds of Queen’s Park to demand that the province clean up the river. A group of young people from the First Nation sang “Home to Me,” a song they have written about their community, after speakers insisted the province take action.
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