NDP calls on Premier to support Grassy Narrows youth by committing to mercury cleanup

Sarah Campbell, NDP MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, supported Grassy Narrows youth who were in the public gallery of the Ontario legislature today to ask Premier Wynne to clean up the mercury poisoned Wabigoon River. 

“Many community members are here with us today. Many of the youth, who travelled 1,700 kilometres, are watching today,” Campbell said. 

“Premier, will you look at these youth from Grassy Narrows and tell them that a river that poisons them today, won’t be clean tomorrow, and will never be clean in their lifetime?”

The people of Grassy Narrows have been told since 1970 not to eat the fish they’ve relied on as a central part of their life since time immemorial, because of mercury that was dumped into the river that makes them sick.  “They’ve been asking the Ontario government to fix it ever since,” Campbell said.

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A report released earlier this week says the Wabigoon River can be fixed. It can be cleaned, and the fish made safe. When asked Monday, the Premier said she hadn’t read the report.  On Tuesday, she said she had read the report, but that what the report calls for wasn’t clear, even though the government has had time to study the final report more than a month.

“On Wednesday, we learned that the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs said he had only received the report the day previous, even though this government has had the report since April,” Campbell said. “The Minister called the science of the report “new”.  It’s not new science.  In fact, it has been done in a number of communities across the province for decades.  So let’s be clear: enhanced natural remediation is possible.” 

“Again, I ask the Premier: will you tell the young people of Grassy Narrows when this government will start the remediation?” Campbell said. 

The Wynne government responded by allowing Grassy Narrows youth to be kicked out of the legislature because they had put on "Water is Sacred" t-shirts.  Grassy Narrows youth, traditional drummers, mercury survivors, and supporters from social justice, environmental, faith, and labour movements, held a River Run rally at Queen’s Park today.