Federal Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan
Council of Canadians
Amnesty International Canada
30 May 2019
Grassy Narrows deserves better than delays and half-measures
Our organizations are deeply disappointed that the federal government has failed to take decisive action to guarantee that survivors of mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows will get the medical care they need and deserve.
Although the federal Indigenous Services department had announced that Minister Seamus O’Regan would sign a memorandum of understanding with Grassy Narrows when he visited the northwestern Ontario First Nation yesterday, no such agreement was reached.
According to a statement released by the Grassy Narrows Chief and Council, negotiations are continuing around key needs of the community. This includes a call for the federal government to put the necessary funds for the construction and operation of a treatment centre into trust so that health of mercury survivors will be protected from shifting political winds.
In an open letter released on the eve of the Minister’s visit, Amnesty International Canada, the Council of Canadians and CUPE Ontario all supported the creation of such a trust fund as necessary step toward justice for Grassy Narrows.
Mercury contamination of the river system at Grassy Narrows has created one of the worst health crises facing any community in Canada. This health crisis has been prolonged and exacerbated by a half century of denial and delay by governments of all political stripes.
As negotiations proceed, our organizations want to remind the federal government that the urgency of providing quality, specialized health care for mercury survivors grows with each passing day.
It is essential that the Trudeau government make good on its promise to deal with the mercury crisis “once and for all.”
Our organizations will continue to stand with the people of Grassy Narrows until their rights to health and a healthy environment are finally respected and fulfilled.