Skip to content

Speak up for Grassy Narrows

Last week, I gave $125 to the Liberal Party of Canada. That was the price of joining their exclusive “Laurier Club,” which gave me access to a swanky high-end donor event featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a luxurious Toronto hotel.

Dressed in my Sunday best and accompanied by Lana, a fellow Grassy Narrows supporter, I ate canapés amongst a few hundred Liberal donors, and waited for the Prime Minister. When he appeared, I started broadcasting live video to the Council of Canadians’ Facebook page from my smartphone as Lana slipped under the velvet ropes in front of the stage. She unfurled a banner and reminded him that people were suffering from mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows.

You may have heard about what happened next…

I was surprised by the Prime Minister’s reaction. We expected, and we were prepared, for him to engage us as he has engaged other protesters in so many similar circumstances. His dismissive and sarcastic response “Thank you for your donation” made headlines internationally. The issue has never received more attention thanks to that short video, which has now been watched more than half a million times. Prime Minister Trudeau made a sincere apology the following morning.

The goal of this action was to remind the Prime Minister of his government’s commitment to provide a mercury treatment centre for Grassy Narrows First Nation. That promise was made 500 days ago and progress has been worrisomely slow. All of the tireless work the people of Grassy Narrows put into getting that commitment is in jeopardy. The federal government may change in October and incoming governments never feel beholden to honour the commitments of previous governments.

That is why it is urgent that you act now to ensure the federal government commits the necessary funds. The money must be put into a dedicated trust that can only be used for the mercury treatment centre. Kathleen Wynne’s government did that to protect the commitment they made to Grassy Narrows to clean up the Wabagoon River. Ontario Premier Doug Ford can’t touch that account.

The Prime Minister must correct this outrageous injustice which has been ignored by every government of every party for the last 50 years.

Win or lose in October, at least he would have this particular legacy to be proud of.

Thank you for all you do.