“We need an immediate investigation into mercury at the whole Dryden mill site by our trusted … Decades of promises, but little action as mercury still takes lives in Grassy Narrows Apr 03, 2019 It’s been half a century since a pulp and paper mill in Dryden, Ont. In 2016, Sneaky and her compatriots at the youth complex made a music video, Home to Me, to show pride in Grassy Narrows and tell others that their home is more than the site of a mercury … More than 400,000 letters of support from around the world called for justice for Grassy Narrows and contributed to the successful signing of an agreement to build a mercury care home. Tuncak, an American chemist and lawyer, also said he is left with a question about discrimination. The need to address mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows dates back some 50 years, he said. Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan said Thursday he will work with Grassy Narrows to sign an agreement on the fate of the facility even though the two sides could not reach a deal when he visited the First Nation last week. We knew we needed to meet him in person to help us better assess his credibility. We tried the local bar. READ MORE: Star Newspapers Limited and/or its licensors. “We are being poisoned by mercury and our people are suffering and I think that things should be called as they are.”, Get a roundup of the most important and intriguing stories, delivered to your inbox, Mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows example of government ‘inaction’: UN human rights expert. He said we could come over. The pharmacist called and left a message, but refused to give us the number. Through our recently launched trust initiative, we’ve received many emails from readers asking how we choose and pursue investigations and how we come to trust the information our sources give. The address we found turned out to be Glowacki’s old house. Both Grassy Narrows and Whitedog, a different community which is part of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, are downstream from the pollution, which is not yet resolved. The Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) people have lived with the consequences of one of the worst cases of environmental poisoning in Canadian history. We thought Glowacki lived in or near Carstairs because researchers at the Star had found a post office box registered to a man with the same name there. Instead, Conn told MPs the government wants to pursue a contractual agreement. Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) and the federal government recently signed a framework agreement for $19.5 million in funding for construction of a mercury care home, supporting a community-envisioned design. The pharmacy had an old account for Glowacki’s wife. Due to the sensitive and/or legal subject matter of some of the content on globalnews.ca, we reserve the ability to disable comments from time to time. To order A First Nation of about 650 people near Ontario’s border with Manitoba, Grassy Narrows’ water was contaminated by tonnes of mercury dumped into its water system by an upstream paper mill. For political parties, it’s a federal election issue. A chloralkali plant, built in Dryden, ON, Canada in 1962, discharged 10 000 kg of mercury (Hg) into the extensive English-Wabigoon water system, 1 Please see our Commenting Policy for more. Last week, environmental organization Earthroots came out with evidence of mercury contamination upstream from the Grassy Narrows First Nation. 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I asked Glowacki this week why he decided to meet with us that day. The community has been dealing with mercury poisoning for over 50 years after Dryden Chemicals Ltd., a pulp and paper mill, polluted the English-Wabigoon river system with untreated neurotoxic mercury between 1962 and 1970. The email had been flipped to us via a source who was working closely with the community. READ MORE: For example, he said he was certain of the year because he had just had a baby). Copyright owned or licensed by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. presentation-ready copies of Toronto Star content for distribution We were parked on the side of the road just outside Carstairs, Alta., feeling pretty dejected when the call came through. The potent neurotoxin contaminated … Glowacki told us his story with confidence, great detail and consistency (David questioned his memory several times, and he’d always come back with a good reason he remembered something. By the afternoon, we’d exhausted all our options. Earlier this year, we discovered with the help of an environmental group called Earthroots that there are higher than normal levels of mercury behind the old Dryden mill in the same spot Glowacki circled on a map. Grassy Narrows should have the facility it’s been seeking for some time, Philpott said in an interview Thursday, adding the federal government made a commitment to move ahead with it when she was minister. We learned and have revealed, among other things, that in 1984 the provincial government was told by its own environment minister that the lakes near Grassy Narrows can and should be cleaned; that Health Canada is keeping secret records that would say which babies tested high for mercury poisoning; and that the fish eaten today by the people of Grassy Narrows are the most mercury-contaminated in the province. If it did, we didn’t know whether he would go on the record with his claims. And likely, he needed to meet us to assess our credibility before talking. The people of Grassy Narrows have been told by doctors that they are sick. Yet another recent scientific report on the issue has cautioned that mercury levels in fish — a main food staple for the two communities — and sediment in the area are still dangerously high. Paper Mill in Dryden Ontario. Correction – June 5, 2017: This article was edited from a previous version that misspelled Kas Glowacki’s surname in one instance. Canada has kept the issue on the back-burner for half a century, Turtle said, adding he believes the situation would have been addressed long ago if Grassy Narrows were a non-Indigenous community. However, the mercury was never removed from the water and continues to affect the health of Grassy Narrows residents. Today, almost 90 percent of Grassy Narrows community members suffer from symptoms of mercury poisoning. In the 1960s, the Dryden Chemical Company used mercury in a process to create the materials needed to bleach paper at a paper mill along the English-Wabigoon River, just 320 kilometers upstream from Grassy Narrows. Grassy Narrows and Whitedog, communities of roughly 1,500, are 100 km downstream from the site of the old mill. Republication or distribution of this content is Grassy Narrows youth were one of ten global cases focused on young human rights defenders leading the charge for change in their communities. Kenora-Rainy River MP Greg Rickford offers insight and comments on this important move to help the people in Grassy Narrows. to colleagues, clients or customers, or inquire about permissions/licensing, please go to: www.TorontoStarReprints.com. Meet Judy DaSilva – mother, indigenous woman, water defender. Tuncak said the case should have been the “highest of priorities” and the government has failed to explain its “inaction.”. We didn’t know if his story would ring true. As a result, the people of Grassy Narrows and Whitedog were negatively affected and suffered from mercury poisoning, one variant of which is called Minamata disease (it originally occurred in Japan in the Minamata Bay area during 1952–60). “It (the trust fund) is an extraordinary measure but I believe that under the circumstances, extraordinary measures are called for,” she said. Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous … Half a century later residents of Grassy Narrows are still grappling with the long term health, social, and economic impacts. That next day in Medicine Hat, at Glowacki’s bungalow, we weren’t sure what to expect. Keith Conn, an assistant deputy minister for the First Nations and Inuit health branch of Indigenous Services, told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that creating a trust fund would take an “inordinate amount of time” and cause more delays. That was the beginning of what has become a year’s worth of reporting on mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows. Had he gotten cold feet? Tuncak released preliminary findings on Thursday about his tour, which involved visiting communities affected by toxins. GRASSY NARROWS — Recent reports have raised alarm over the impact of mercury poisoning on those who eat fish from the lakes and rivers surrounding Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation), located 80 kilometres north of Kenora — but despite the risks, many residents continue to eat the fish: there are simply too few other options for food. In 1962, Dryden Chemicals Ltd. began operating a chlor-alkali plant in Dryden, Ontario. Residents of Grassy Narrows First Nation, about 100 kilometres northeast of Kenora, Ont., have grappled with long-standing mental and physical health issues due to toxic mercury levels in the nearby English-Wabigoon River. He was at an impasse trying to reach Glowacki, who described himself as a former mill employee. 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