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Peterborough chapter in solidarity with Grassy Narrows First Nation at River Run 2016

Toronto-based Council of Canadians organizer Rachel Small and Peterborough chapter activist Roy Brady. Photo by Mark Calzavara.

Council of Canadians Peterborough chapter activist Roy Brady, Rosemary Keenan and a Peel chapter member joined with more than 600 other people for today’s Grassy Narrows River Run 2016.

The Council of Canadians has been participating the annual River Run 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.”

On May 30, the CBC reported, “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. …[John Rudd] is 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.”

To date the Wynne government has refused to take action and clean up the English-Wabigoon River system.

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 on today’s River Run, please see FreeGrassy.net and #RiverRun2016