Former Chief of the Anishinaabe of Grassy Narrows, Steve Fobister Sr., is enduring a hunger strike to “call for justice for mercury survivors” suffering from the negative health effects of a mercury crisis that dates back to the early ‘60s.
The Grassy Narrows First Nation said it has just obtained a copy of an unreleased government report that confirms there is “no doubt” community members near Kenora, Ontario have suffered from mercury-related neurological disorders. The band says this is something the government has never before acknowledged.
The Grassy Narrows mercury crisis, which first began 1962, occurred after a nearby paper mill poisoned the Wabigoon-English river system, contaminating local fish and communities. The Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill leaked an estimated 9000 kilograms of mercury in the river system between 1962 and 1970. By 1970 the community was forced to stop commercial and sport fishing due to high levels of mercury contamination although, at the time, the government of Ontario maintained the fish were safe for consumption.
Fobister, with a body crippled from mercury poisoning, met with Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer on Tuesday in Toronto, telling a news conference “the struggle goes on.”