CBC video journalist Peter Wall returns to Grassy Narrows, 40 years after the community was poisoned with Mercury.
Forty years after Dryden Chemical Company dumped 20,000 pounds of mercury into the Wabigoon River, with the Ontario government’s expressed consent, the people of Grassy Narrows continue to suffer the effects of mercury poisoning.
Dryden Chemical Company, a chloralkali process plant, supplied both sodium hydroxide and chlorine for the Dryden Pulp and Paper Company. Dryden Chemical company discharged their effluent into the Wabigoon-English River system. 20,000 pounds of mercury was dumped into the river between 1962 and 1970.
In 1970, the government of Canada stepped in, informing commercial fishermen and tourist-lodge owners along the English-Wabigoon River that fish were testing for extremely high levels of mercury.
After the warning was made public, the Ontario government told the people of Grassy Narrows, Wabaseemoong, and Wabauskang First Nations to stop eating the fish– their main food staple–and further advised Grassy Narrows to shut down its commercial fishery. In the blink of an eye, Grassy Narrows’ economy was devastated.
The government, however, claimed that it would only take a few months for the mercury to wash out of the river system. Yet, forty years later, the effects are still being revealed.
For more information on Grassy Narrows and their struggle, please visit: www.freegrassy.org
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.