Grassy Narrows / 2010 (“Scars of Mercury” film)

Grassy Narrows; such a pretty-sounding name, isn’t it?

So unfortunate that it became synonymous, 40 years ago, with pollution, corporate lies & greed, & government complicity & inaction.

First Nations communities in northern Ontario were (still are) being poisoned by mercury emissions from a pulp & paper plant near Dryden, Ontario.

It’s a story that makes you feel sick – grabs you around the throat & makes you wonder why you’re part of a country/culture where this kind of thing can take place. And just be ignored by politicians (our so-called leaders) & the corporate raider types who made it happen.

Me, I’m struggling these days with all kinds of things. Personal challenges (life is challenging, isn’t it?), insights about my childhood – environmental issues that make me feel a little sick – & more tears than I’m used to.

But hey!

Yesterday I joined a happy throng of protesters in Toronto – & that made me feel good.

A large & noisy “River-Run” crowd marched to Queen’s Park (home of Ontario’s provincial government) to tell Canada’s governments (both provincial & federal) that the crimes perpetrated on the people of Grassy Narrows (& other 1st Nations communities) are a national disgrace & that the people of Grassy Narrows have much support from a wide spectrum of organizations, environmental groups & individuals.

Go here to learn more about Grassy Narrows.

Go here to watch CBC photo journalist Peter Wall’s documentary about Grassy Narrows. (shown on ‘The National’ on April 5th).

Pick up your phone & call (416) 325-1941 & tell Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty that the treatment of the Grassy Narrows people is a national disgrace. When I made my call, the young woman I spoke to (an actual human being, btw!) was not merely very polite, she sounded positively interested in what I had to say!! We can ask the Premier (& our local MP/MPPs) whether they would allow this kind of situation to take place in their own ridings.

If you prefer, e-mail the Premier & tell him you support justice for Grassy Narrows and protection for water everywhere. Go here for more info.

I love this thought/quotation: “The great end of life is not knowledge, but action.” (Thomas Henry Huxley)

We need to get off our butts, folks! (Only if we want to “change the world” & make ourselves feel much more useful & joyful, though!)

Action is the best possible antidote to despair. You can quote me on that!


P.S. My part in the march? I got to carry the tail end of a fish. Loved it! I couldn’t help but think we protesters were having way more fun than the quiet & sedate folks watching from the sidelines. Protesting is good for you!! A marvellous spirits-enhancer…

P.P.S. Placard wordings I saw at the protest:

  • Colonialism is criminal
  • Mercury affects us all
  • We are ALL downstream
  • Native rights NOW!
  • Fishermen: Eating certain species of fish taken from this water may be harmful to health because of mercury content. (Ontario Dept. of Lands & Forests)

P.P.P.S. on May 4th:   "Scars of Mercury" film

Canada, 90 min

Traditional hunters and trappers, the Anishnabe people of Grassy Narrows agree to move near Dryden, Ontario to have a local school. In 1970, mercury contamination was identified from a paper mill upstream. Suddenly, commercial fishing and guiding were wiped out and the people lost not only their primary source of food, but their employment and way of life. Dr. Masazumi Harada is an expert in mercury poisoning from Japan. He traveled to Grassy Narrows in 1975 to see if the mercury had traveled through the food chain. He found mild cases at the time but has returned to see if there is a cumulative effect and if the safety guidelines are reliable. For background information about the screening, please click here

To stay informed and take action in support of Grassy Narrows click here [that's where/how I got this message about the film]

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Only when the last tree has died...and the last river has been poisoned...and the last fish has been caught...will we realize that we cannot eat money.” ~ 19th century Cree saying