This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Grassy Narrows wanted the government to set up a $88.7-million trust to pay for construction and maintenance of a survivor’s home as well as a care centre for people with mercury poisoning. So have many in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, also known as Whitedog First Nation, about 130 kilometres away. Meanwhile, Fobister said he fears his community will bear the consequences of the mercury contamination until the river is cleaned up, noting such a process could prolong the ordeal for several more generations of Grassy Narrows residents. Shane Pennells originates from Grassy Narrows First Nation in Ontario. 50 years on, the community’s youth are determined to get justice. The mercury care home is one of two distinct projects that the federal government has been working on with Grassy Narrows First Nations leadership. For almost 50 years, the river system—a foundational element of the Grassy Narrows culture—-that the community relies on for food and water has been contaminated with mercury as a result of industrial pollution. ", Last week, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller described the lack of action on the local mercury contamination as "an aberration in our history.". Grassy Narrows signs deal with Ottawa on mercury poisoning treatment centre. “Our community members have suffered for so long,” Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Randy Fobister said in a recent interview. Grassy Narrows elder Bill Fobister Sr. and youth representative Rodney Bruce look on as Chief Rudy Turtle speaks during a news conference at … Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press Grassy Narrows declared a state of emergency over its unsafe drinking water in 2015, after a boil-water advisory had already been in place for nearly two years, as it tried to get more information from the federal government about the safety of its water. File photo by The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2020. The study is the first to directly support Grassy Narrows’ long held belief that their people are dying young because of the ongoing impact of mercury poisoning … His mother had mercury poisoning in her system when she gave birth to her son, Shane. The other project will see the community’s current health facility expanded and renovated. OTTAWA — The federal government has signed an agreement with Grassy Narrows First Nation that will see a long-promised treatment centre for residents with mercury poisoning finally built in the community. “It affects the youth (with) common signs of symptoms like what you get from mercury poisoning like rashes.”, Last week, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller described the lack of action on the local mercury contamination as “an aberration in our history.”. "It's great news for a whole community … We're finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.". A nearby paper mill dumped the neurotoxin into the nearby Wabigoon River in the 1960s, contaminating the fish there and poisoning the people from Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) … The $17 million project was announced in 2017, but only two per cent of the work has been completed. So have many in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, also known as Whitedog First Nation, about 130 kilometres away. He said his community will allow construction workers to enter the community despite the fear of COVID-19. The work to build a mercury treatment facility in Grassy Narrows First Nation will continue in 2020, with a renewed commitment from the federal government. "The promises are great, but we need to see solutions, we need to see actions, we need to see these problems actually solved," Conservative MP Gary Vidal, his party's critic for Indigenous Services, said in an interview. “It’s great news for a whole community … We’re finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”. But he said community members are still leery of using tap water, relying instead on shipments of bottled water delivered to the community each week. So have many in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, also known as Whitedog First Nation, about 130 kilometres away. Water bottles are seen at the local water supply site on the Grassy Narrows First Nation, in northwestern Ontario, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. "From birth, even today, you get stuff that affects the nerves," Fobister said. Grassy Narrows reminds Canada of unkept promises as AFN sets its priority agenda. The federal government had pushed for a design that was more like an assisted-living home, while Grassy Narrows had drawn up its own blueprint for a facility that gave specialized care to mercury poisoning patients. The federal government committed up to $19.5 million to each community for the construction of facilities to meet the needs of residents living with methylmercury poisoning. "We've seen the announcements, but we haven't seen the outcomes," he said. The government promised to fund the building of a new water treatment plant in the community next to the mercury treatment centre. Our newsroom abides by the RTDNA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and follows the Canadian Press Stylebook, Red Deer's newest radio station is on the air - 106.7 REWIND Radio, "Tubs and Toys" supporting Red Deer Christmas Bureau, AHS launches free online mental health network, RSM Canada raises over $23,000 for Boys and Girls Club, Whitefish Mountain Resort keeping things fresh for snow lovers, City modifies Toys for Tickets program amid COVID-19, 'Reimagined' Run for the Cure raises over $8.5M for breast cancer research. So have many in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, also known as Whitedog First Nation, about 130 kilometres away. Young people from the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario are fighting for a healthy future for themselves and their community. The other project will see the community’s current health facility expanded and renovated. "Our community members have suffered for so long," Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Randy Fobister said in a recent interview. The water was deemed fit for human consumption again just this October, which Fobister said came after years of work on water treatment facilities and local pipes. Fobister said a water test showed chemical compounds known trihalomethanes (THMs) that form when the chlorine used to disinfect water reacts with natural organic matter such as vegetation and dead leaves. Grassy Narrows unveils mercury treatment centre design but wonders whether government is committed to building it. Meanwhile, Fobister said he fears his community will bear the consequences of the mercury contamination until the river is cleaned up, noting such a process could prolong the ordeal for several more generations of Grassy Narrows residents. New money for a treatment centre for those living with the effects of chronic mercury poisoning comes as a ray of hope for a northern Ontario First Nation that … My kids have mercury poisoning. Fobister said ground testing is already taking place in the area where the two facilities should be built. Phone: (403) 343-7105Newsroom: (403) 342-6397Advertising: (403) 342-8616, We strive to achieve the highest ethical standards in all that we do. Hundreds of residents have suffered chronic health problems related to mercury exposure since the 1960s, when a chemical plant at the Reed Paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 9,000 kilograms of mercury into the river community members rely on for fishing. “From birth, even today, you get stuff that affects the nerves,” Fobister said. They also found two other disinfectant byproducts considered possible carcinogens. The Indigenous community of Grassy Narrows, Canada, has been devastated by mercury poisoning. "Our community members have suffered for so long," Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Randy Fobister said in a recent interview. “Part of that trust is putting the money away in a trust (fund) to be used for the community to treat their people, so that they can live in dignity.”. Fobister said a water test showed chemical compounds known trihalomethanes (THMs) that form when the chlorine used to disinfect water reacts with natural organic matter such as vegetation and dead leaves. Kenora-Rainy River MP Greg Rickford offers insight and comments on this important move to help the people in Grassy Narrows. Construction was scheduled to start in the fall, but by December that hadn’t happened and Turtle, along with other community members, were in Ottawa criticizing the government for taking so long. He said his community will allow construction workers to enter the community despite the fear of COVID-19. The Trudeau administration committed to building the centre when Chief Simon Fobister and Jane Philpott, minister of Indigenous Services, met in 2017. “Our community members have suffered for so long,” Grassy Narrows … The other project will see the community's current health facility expanded and renovated. After years of advocacy by the communities, Ottawa reached agreements with both Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong earlier this year. "When the fish are healthy, the land is healthy, and maybe, maybe then the youth, 50 years from now, they'll have good health.". Miller pegged the timeline to finish the buildings at between 18 and 36 months. your subscription today. Two weeks ago, a test found lead in the tap water at the community's school, Fobister said. Mercury levels higher in Grassy Narrows residents who died young, new study finds Apr. Miller said previous plans for treatment facilities were delayed as Indigenous communities pushed for more comprehensive federal funding. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2020. The fall economic statement released last week saw the Liberal government earmark $200 million up to fiscal 2024-25, plus $300,000 ongoing, to support the building and operation of mercury treatment centres in both communities. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2020. After years of advocacy by the communities, Ottawa reached agreements with both Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong earlier this year. Opposition critics said they will wait to see it take concrete shape before offering praise. The fiscal update said the funding, set to start flowing in fiscal 2021-22, would allow community members from both Wabaseemong and Grassy Narrows, also known as Asubpeeschoseewagong, to stay close to home while receiving treatment. Early death linked to mercury in Grassy Narrows. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2020. Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press He said he hopes to see both projects begin in the spring. One element sure to be included is building on progress made to address a legacy of serious health problems in the community from mercury poisoning tied to a … Residents of Grassy Narrows First Nation, about 100 kilometres northeast of Kenora, Ont., have grappled with long-standing mental and physical health issues due to toxic mercury levels in the nearby English-Wabigoon River. The federal government has agreed to fund a $19.5-million mercury care home for Grassy Narrows First Nation, more than two years after Ottawa first promised the facility. Chief Rudy Turtle signed the framework agreement with Indigenous Services Canada Thursday, which commits $19.5 million towards the construction of the mercury care home. Fobister said ground testing is already taking place in the area where the two facilities should be built. In the 1960s, a pulp mill upstream dumped an estimated nine tonnes of mercury into the river system, contaminating the fish and making them dangerous to eat. On Sept. 20, Japanese researchers released findings showing that more than 90 per cent of residents in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nation displayed signs of mercury poisoning, with the majority experiencing sensory deprivation through the loss of feeling in their fingers and toes. They also found two other disinfectant byproducts considered possible carcinogens. “When the fish are healthy, the land is healthy, and maybe, maybe then the youth, 50 years from now, they’ll have good health.”. The lack of clean drinking water in First Nations communities across Canada exacerbates an already dismal situation … Fobister said his community of about 1,200 residents continues to struggle with tainted water long after the initial mercury contamination took place. Miller pegged the timeline to finish the buildings at between 18 and 36 months. Grassy Narrows First Nation, or the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, is a small First Nations community in northwestern Ontario. Jul. The fall economic statement released last week saw the Liberal government earmark $200 million up to fiscal 2024-25, plus $300,000 ongoing, to support the building and operation of mercury treatment centres in both communities. Miller said the mercury treatment facilities have potential to fill a unique place in the Canadian health-care system. “What we found out quite quickly was that there was no trust between Grassy Narrows and the government of Canada, and in some senses, rightly so,” he said. Share on Facebook; Share on Twitter; ... Chief Turtle said the agreement is for a 24-bed facility that will allow the people of Grassy Narrows suffering from mercury poisoning to … "I hope it'll become a state-of-the-art place where we can study the effects of mercury poisoning," he told a news conference last week. By Maan Alhmidi | News, Politics | December 7th 2020. Apr 3, 2020 10:24 AM. April 3, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada Yesterday, in the spirit of collaboration, trust and mutual respect, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services and Chief Rudy Turtle of the Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) signed a framework agreement to provide federal support … Mercury in Grassy Narrows people have a special relationship to the mercury care home is of! And Wabaseemoong earlier this year Pennells originates from Grassy Narrows First Nation is... 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