On June 20th 2019, Indigenous Anishinabek from Asubpeeschoseewagong, or Grassy Narrows First Nations took to the streets of Toronto to bring pressure on the federal and provincial governments to fulfill their promises of working towards justice and to build a treatment centre and home for those suffering from mercury poisoning caused through industrial pollution and government indifference.
Surrounded by hundreds of supporters from across Ontario, the demonstration started at Queen’s Park with opening comments of welcome and support from allies including the host Nisha Toomey from No One is Illegal, Sol Mamakwa of the NDP and RoseAnne Archibald, of the Chiefs of Ontario, and speeches from members of Grassy Narrows Including chief Rudy Turtle. Then, led by youth and those suffering from mercury poisoning, a march walked away from the Ontario legislature and through the streets, stopping at the offices “Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada” (INAC). Once at the INAC building, folks from Grassy Narrows crawled on their hands and knees across Bay St to the doors of the building before collapsing to the ground in a “die-in” which then spread to the entire crowd, shutting down the area for nearly an hour.
After several more emotional and inspiring speeches, including those from from Grassy Narrows grandmother and world renowned activist Judy da Silva, Chrissy Issac (Swain) from Grassy Narrows and 3 youth that are following in her footsteps of resistance, Syed Hussan and Nisha from No One is Illegal, and Chris Benjamin from Amnesty International, the march resumed and wound through to Grange park, ending with a short closing speech and prayer from a resident of Grassy Narrows.
This is the 5th time in the past decade the River Run has been organized and people from Grassy Narrows have traveledd the 1800km from their community to demand an end to ongoing colonial violence and environmental degradation and to seek justice for the ravages of mercury poisoning.
One of the recurring chants of the march was: “Hey Trudeau we know what’s just, put the money in a trust! No more lies, we know what’s just, put the money in a trust!
This call to to put the promised money into a trust is part of an ongoing campaign to pressure the Trudeau government to put the funds for a mercury treatment centre and home in a trust so the money is guaranteed, despite what the federal elections bring in the fall of 2019.
Supporters of Grassy Narrows have been asked to contact the Minister of Indigenous Services (currently Seamus O’Regan) and Prime Minister Trudeau to mirror the demand that the promised money for the mercury home and treatment centre be put in a trust.
For more information on Grassy Narrows and the ongoing work being done to pressure federal and provincial governments to fulfill their promises, detoxify the river system, and build a mercury treatment centre and home see:
- FreeGrassy: Grassy Narrows Solidarity on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FreeGrassy/
- @FreeGrassy on twitter – https://www.twitter.com/freegrassy
- Grassy.Narrows.Life on instagram – https://www.instagram.com/grassy.narrows.life/
- Leadnow petition: https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/deliver-immediate-and-comprehensive-mercury-justice-for-the-people-of-grassy-narrowsFor more AW@L Radio, including our past coverage of the River Run events and the continuing calls for justice for Grassy Narrows, visit grandrivermc.ca
Please enjoy the episode responsibly.