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Join the Grassy Narrows River Run in Toronto this Thursday

The Grassy Narrows River Run 2016 will take place on Thursday June 2 starting at 12 pm in front of Queen’s Park in Toronto.

The Council of Canadians has been participating the annual River Run event since 2010.

As noted on Facebook, “In Spring of 2016 Grassy Narrows people will travel 1,700 km to Toronto to call on Premier Wynne to finally clean up the 9,000 kg of mercury that were dumped in our river in the 1960’s. Join us as we demand justice for our people and protection for the waters and forests that give life. The urban Indigenous community of Toronto has been gifted tobacco from the Grassy Narrows Women’s Drum Group to attend the River Run rally on June 2nd. There will be a meeting place at Queen’s Park at noon to pick up tobacco to walk with.”

Today the CBC reports, “Reed Paper in Dryden, Ont., dumped chemicals in the river in the 1960s and early 1970s, resulting in mercury poisoning among First Nations people who ate fish caught in the area. …The contamination closed the commercial fishery that was the foundation of the economy at Grassy Narrows First Nation. With little money and no local grocery store, residents have continued to eat the fish throughout the years.”

That article highlights, “It is feasible to clean up some of the decades-old mercury contamination in Ontario’s English-Wabigoon River system near Grassy Narrows First Nation, according to new research by three experts in the field. …The possibility of remediation was first studied in the 1980s by a government research team that included John Rudd. He’s the lead author of the new research commissioned by Grassy Narrows First Nation… Mercury cleanup methods recommended for the English-Wabigoon, and rejected by the government in the 1980s, have since been seen to work, successfully, at an estuary in Maine, Rudd said. New technology has made remediation even more viable, he said.”

The Wynne government does not agree.

Beyond the River Run on June 2, there will also be a pre-rally Grassy Narrows Speaks public forum at Ryerson University on May 31 at 6 pm. That public forum will feature Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister Sr., Grassy Narrows Clan Mother Judy Da Silva, Grassy Narrows Youth Singers, and Avi Lewis.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “After 57 years of devastating contamination of their waters, the people of Grassy Narrows are owed a debt of justice. It is the premier’s responsibility to ensure that their rights are finally respected and upheld.”

For numerous blogs by Mark Calzavara, Michael Butler, Meera Karunananthan and myself on the Grassy Narrows First Nation struggle for water justice, please click here.

For more information, please see and #RiverRun2016