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McGuinty invited to a Grassy Narrows fish fry at Queen’s Park

June 6, 2012

Will Premier McGuinty join Grassy Narrows for lunch at the Chef’s Table?

Toronto - Today Grassy Narrows mothers are challenging Premier McGuinty to join them and their families in a traditional fish fry at Queen’s Park for a meal of their local fish cooked on an open wood fire. The people of Grassy Narrows are still suffering from the debilitating health impacts of mercury poison fifty years after a Dryden mill began dumping 10 tonnes of toxic mercury into Grassy Narrows’ English-Wabigoon River, a practice allowed by the province.

“Every day mothers in Grassy Narrows must choose between hunger and feeding their families our traditional fish diet. We are asking that McGuinty step in our shoes for one meal, so he can understand why we say no to pollution and destructive industrial logging that brings even more mercury into our fish,” says Judy Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows mother.

FISH FRY. Wednesday June 6, Noon (today). Queens Park south lawn.
The fish fry is endorsed by Canadian celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy.

In April 2010, when Dr. Harada’s previous report was released in English, Premier McGuinty told reporters that “What we do have is a heavy responsibility to take a good, long, hard look at this new report and find out exactly what the story is.” Instead of meeting that responsibility, Ontario has released a plan for another decade of industrial clearcut logging on Grassy Narrows territory - a practice that has been found to dramatically increase mercury levels in water and fish.

Indigenous Grassy Narrows mothers traveled 2,000 km to Toronto by foot, train, and bus to release a health study on their community by renowned Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada this week.

The report confirms what many Grassy Narrows mothers have known for years, that mercury poisoning is still dramatically impacting their community. Some Grassy Narrows mothers report delayed language development, cerebral palsy, seizures, and other illnesses in their children –symptoms linked to fetal mercury poisoning.

The newly translated report from 2011 reveals that 59% of the Grassy Narrows and Whitedog community members tested continue to be affected by the mercury pollution. Three out of four people diagnosed by the Japanese experts do not receive any support from the Mercury Disability Board established in 2010.

Grassy Narrows, and their supporters, are demanding that government:

Acknowledge mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows, apologize, and accept responsibility to fix what was broken.

Fund a permanent Grassy Narrows run environmental health monitoring center. Strengthen Health Canada mercury safety guideline to protect all people.

Compensate all people diagnosed by the Japanese doctors, and retroactively index the compensation to inflation.

RESTORATION: Clean and restore the English-Wabigoon river system. Stop the mills from polluting the water and air.

Restore Grassy Narrows control over Grassy Narrows Territory. End destructive industrial logging on Grassy Narrows territory.

While community members invest in renewing their traditional food supply and harvesting practices, the poisoning of the watershed continues to endanger the health and well-being of local families.

In 2006, Grassy Narrows independent fisherman George Assin was fined a total of $500 for attempting to sell mercury contaminated fish to a Kenora fish processing plant, fish that was caught in Grassy Narrows Lake. The charges included one count of unlawfully selling fish tainted by mercury contamination, contrary to the Ontario Fish Inspection Act. Forensic tests on the fish, done at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Winnipeg, revealed mercury levels of 1.0 parts per million, twice the acceptable level of 0.5 parts per million.

Members of the public are invited to join in the traditional feast today at noon at Queen’s Park front lawn.

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