OTTAWA _ The chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support his community’s call for a treatment centre for residents affected by mercury poisoning, including those nearing death.
Simon Fobister says he has personally reached out to Trudeau three times and wonders why the prime minister has failed to respond to his concerns, despite a promise for a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
Fobister is also seeking answers and action from the Ontario government after a report commissioned by the Domtar company detailed provincial knowledge of contamination in the soil under an upstream paper mill dating back to 1990.
Provincial Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer says his ministry is reviewing the 2016 report to see what the consequences are and “what should be done.”
The situation in Grassy Narrows has also touched off concern from international observers, with groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch saying Canada must address the mercury crisis in its own backyard.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to Fobister’s concerns today, but the office of Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says Ottawa is helping the First Nation access expertise and information from federal departments to on the issue of mercury contamination.