If there’s a shorthand expression in Ontario for the betrayal of Indigenous citizens, their rights, health and well-being, it is probably two words: Grassy Narrows.
The Northern Ontario community bedevilled by mercury pollution in the English River system for a half-century has heard enough empty promises over the decades to last an eternity. In Grassy Narrows, mercury contamination in fish — the result of dumping by a pulp and paper company, dating back to 1962 — continues to poison people.
Before that, in the 1920s, construction of a hydroelectric dam flooded Grassy Narrows, destroying wild-rice harvesting areas and burial grounds. Since that, there has been extensive clear-cutting by logging companies.
Now, with the Ontario government granting nine new mining permits in the traditional territory of Grassy Narrows without consulting the local community, the injury and insult keeps on coming.