The implicit lesson seems to be that the students’ future is linked to insistence on a new approach to the forest, one not centered around trucks hauling the opportunities of their homeland away while they sit in classrooms preparing for jobs that may not exist. On August 17, 2011, First Nation supporters won a victory in court, when "Ontario's Superior Court ruled that the province cannot authorize timber and logging if the operations infringe on federal treaty promises protecting aboriginal rights to traditional hunting and trapping." So have many in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, also known as Whitedog First Nation, about 130 kilometres away. [13][14], The mercury poisoning among the two First Nations communities were possible due to the lax laws regarding environmental pollution. In the fall, wild rice was harvested from the margins of the rivers and finished for storage. The reserve is also part of the provincial riding of Kenora-Rainy River and federal riding of Kenora. Grassy Narrows timeline. 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. That's up from about $166,000 in 2008-2009, according to documents obtained by CBC News. This is part of Fobister’s vision of what Aboriginal access to resources through treaty rights might look like. [25][7], On September 8, 2007, Ontario announced that it "had agreed to begin discussions with Grassy Narrows First Nation on forestry-related issues. By Citizens for Public Justice. mill worker recalls dumping barrels of mercury in plastic-lined pit", "Neurological and birth defects haunt Wabaseemoong First Nation, decades after mercury dumping", "Return to grassy narrows: a poisoned community tells its 40-year-old story", "90% of Grassy Narrows residents show mercury poisoning signs: researchers", "Free Grassy » Canada's Grassy Narrows First Nation demands government action after 50 years of mercury poisoning", "Report on mercury poisoning never shared, Grassy Narrows leaders say", "Ontario announces $85M to clean up mercury near Grassy Narrows, Wabaseemoong First Nations", "Mercury poisoning effects continue at Grassy Narrows: Mercury dumping halted in 1970 but symptoms persist", "Fact Sheet: Mercury Poisoning of the Grassy Narrows and White Dog Communities", "Celebrating Canada's Indigenous Peoples Through Song and Dance: Music Alive Program Teacher's Guide", "ONTARIO ENTERS INTO FORESTRY DISCUSSIONS WITH GRASSY NARROWS", "First Nation wins legal battle over clear-cutting", "Ontario gives green light to clear-cutting at Grassy Narrows", "Ontario's biologists called clear-cut logging plan 'big step backwards, "Grassy Narrows First Nation, Grassy Narrows Medical Centre, Medical Centre", "Passing Ojibway Lifeways in a Contemporary Environment", Anishinabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council, Animakee Wa Zhing 37 (Northwest Angle 37), Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Asubpeeschoseewagong_First_Nation&oldid=991818936, CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown, All Wikipedia articles written in Canadian English, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 2 December 2020, at 00:03. [21] Walleye remains dangerous for those with long-term exposure to the consumption of the fish as walleye contains approximately 13-15 times the recommended levels of mercury. [21] Government agencies responsible for the cleanup and study of the mercury pollution in the Wabigoon River system fear that dredging the sediments in the Wabigoon River may increase the levels of mercury downstream. On the road into Grassy Narrows, a sign that once warned about forest fires reads “Our future depends on forests. Fish, their main source of food, contained extremely high levels of mercury from toxic dumping by the Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill upstream (Kraus 2013). The First Nation is headed by a Chief and four councillors: The First Nation is a member of the Bimose Tribal Council, a regional non-political Chief's Council, who is a member of the Grand Council of Treaty 3, a political organization. The Grassy Narrows band began seeking compensation in 1970. ← The 1990s: CPJ in the eye of several storms. She returned to the community in August with her two younger children, Gabrielle, 3, … [25] Additionally, Indigenous people believe that people may learn from fish and learn cultural practices by fishing. In a 1998 letter, Abitibi wrote to Grassy Narrows: “We realize the way we manage the forest may be considered catastrophic, but we also believe that in the long run it is best for the forest.”. The ultimate goal of the blockaders is Asubpeeschoseewagong jurisdiction over their customary lands, giving them the ability to protect their boreal homeland and access its wealth and opportunity. Pristine wilderness, canoeing, and fishing are readily accessible. Mercury poisoning among the people of Grassy Narrows was first discovered in the early 1970s by Japanese researchers. 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. It was a “roving blockade,” part of a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between the Anishinaabe people of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows First Nation) and Montreal-based logging giant Abitibi Consolidated. Rudy Turtle, chief of Grassy Narrows, hopes he keeps that promise. And no timeline has been given for the next phase of design or construction. Trailers at the main blockade serve as makeshift high school classrooms. That’s little comfort to Fobister, who says decision making power lies elsewhere. As this game of jurisdictional hot potato goes on, the trees keep falling. “Our people want to have a say in the state of our forests, participate in the opportunities and maintain our way of life into future generations,” says Leo Jourdain, Grand Chief for Treaty Three, the political organization for 28 First Nations in the region. “Minister Seamus … Although the Asubpeeschoseewagong people themselves say that they have always lived along the Wabigoon-English River northeast of Lake of the Woods, most historians believe that the ancestors of the Northern Ojibway were first encountered by Europeans near what is now Sault Ste. [14] Though there have been obvious health issues associated with the consumption of fish from the Wabigoon River system, Ed Wilson Landing, and Clay Lake, the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation community continue to eat the fish from these bodies of water as the community cannot afford to obtain boats in order to fish farther away from the infected waterways or afford pricey groceries. Current minister of Indigenous Affairs visited Grassy Narrows in March to sign an agreement with the community to build the Care Centre but no agreement was signed. The closest airport is Kenora Airport and provides connections to other large communities including Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. The view of the treaty among blockaders seems to be that it is intended to ensure equitable sharing of resources. FISHER RIVER CREE NATION HISTORICAL TIMELINE (Selected) 1837 Norway House established as Hudson Bay Company Administrative Centre. Grassy Narrows First Nation leaders want a commitment in writing from the province to cleanup a nearby river that is contaminated with mercury. The coloured blotches, Billard explains, are areas already cut or slated for cutting. Grassy Narrows’ Chief Simon Fobister responded saying “I invite the Premier to put this historic commitment in writing and sign it alongside me in proper ceremony so that we can know it is real. 14 May 1875 Minister of Interior approves relocation to Grassy Narrows. Miller pegged the timeline to finish the buildings at between 18 and 36 months. He would not say whether logging infringes on treaty rights. “$19.5 million is just for the building itself, but we are in the process of securing another, I think, $68 million and that still has to go to cabinet for approval,” said Turtle, who talked to APTN News from his Grassy Narrows home. The community of about 1,200 members had been without clean drinking water for about seven years, before boil water advisories were lifted recently. The reserve, legally known as English River Indian Reserve 21, is just over 41 km 2 of land located about 55 km northeast of Kenora.There are 1,594 registered members of Grassy Narrows First Nation (also known as Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek), 971 of whom live on-reserve (2019). [11] However, time has not lowered the levels of mercury in the Wabigoon River system as the paper and pulp industry in Dryden and the Canadian government had originally told the residents. They migrated northward and westward during the late 17th and early 18th centuries in search of animals to supply the fur trade. “New Democrats have repeatedly raised in this chamber […] Grassy Narrows First Nation, or the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, is a small First Nations community in northwestern Ontario. Grassy Narrows timeline. “I can’t even imagine what it used to be like,” surveying the naked hillside. Grassy Narrows First Nations youth are renowned for their activism, art, and leadership in spite of mercury burden Today Grassy Narrows released a ground-breaking new report by renowned mercury expert Dr. Donna Mergler. We have borne 54 years of poison and inaction – we need a firm timeline and a realistic budget to get this cleanup done as soon as humanly possible. According to Manager Jimmy Koo, they still have no timeline for completion. In some regions of Africa, like Malawi, climate change can also lead to landslides, hailstorms, and mudslides. [3], In 1871, Grassy Narrows First Nation, together with other Ojibway tribes, made a treaty with the Canadian government, The Crown, in the person of Queen Victoria, giving up aboriginal title to a large tract of land in northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba, Treaty 3 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibbeway Indians at the Northwest Angle on the Lake of the Woods with Adhesions. site has delayed the work timeline, the spokesperson said, adding the government will share its “approach” with Grassy Narrows and … Alcoholic beverages were strictly forbidden. [7][23] Consumption of fish continues in the area, particularly pickerel (walleye), the local favourite, but it is high on the food chain and therefore contains high levels of mercury. Randy Fobister has been elected as the new chief at Grassy Narrows. The fur trade shifted this practice toward trapping smaller animals and trading their furs. As we awaited the loggers – who haul at night on roads leading to the pulp and paper mill 80 km south in Kenora – there was a heightened energy in the air. 3 (1873) (“Treaty 3”), thus limiting First Nation harvesting rights. The province’s review of the Gordon Rd. Email me when someone replies to my comment, 334 MacLaren Street - Suite 200Ottawa ONK2P 0M6Unceded Algonquin Territory, 501-309 Cooper St, Ottawa ON K2P 0G5Unceded Algonquin Territory, Charitable registration number: 89438 3512 RR0001 (CJL Foundation). Ancestors of the northern Ojibwe are thought to have originally inhabited the north shore of the upper Great Lakes. Participation in the North American fur trade was initially through trading of furs trapped by other tribes, but soon the Saulteaux acquired trapping skills and emigrated to their present location as they sought productive trapping grounds. It was a “roving blockade,” part of a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between the Anishinaabe people of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows First Nation) and Montreal … [26] Iacobucci's discussions with Grassy Narrows would focus on, "sustainable forest management partnership models and other forestry-related matters, including harvesting methods, interim protection for traditional activities and economic development. Miller pegged the timeline to finish the buildings at between 18 and 36 months. Hornepayne First Nation recently joined the Grassy Narrows blockade and in February, Aroland First Nation began blocking Highway 43. Finally, helped by Olthuis, a lawyer and researcher, the community received roughly $7 million in 1985 for compensation, job creation and economic development. We have borne 54 years of poison and inaction – we need a firm timeline and a realistic budget to get this cleanup done as soon as humanly possible. [4], On the lands they selected under Treaty 3, the old reserve, the cycle of seasonal activities and traditional cultural practices of the Ojibway were followed. Ten years ago, on 2 December 2002, young people from the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario went out onto a road leading past their reserve and stopped the logging tracks carrying away trees cut on their traditional territory. Work was available as hunting and fishing guides and cleaning tourist lodges. “We’re not shying away from our responsibility,” Osborne says, noting ongoing communication with Grassy Narrows. The English River is 615 kilometers long with a drainage basin of 52,300 square kilometers. The people continued to live in their customary way, each clan living in log cabins in small clearings; often it was 1⁄2 mi (0.80 km) to the nearest neighbour. [25] Given these points, the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation community have not stopped consuming fish as fish are considered as sacred more-than-human beings who have the ability to teach valuable lessons to the future generations. 1962 to 1970: A pulp and paper mill owned by Reed Inc., and later Great Lakes Forest Products Ltd., dumps mercury-contaminated effluent into the Wabigoon River. Potatoes were grown on a community plot. The sentiment is echoed by non-Aboriginal trapper Don Billard. [8][9] Workers from the industry have admitted that there are a multitude of hidden mercury containers near the Wabigoon River that has caused health problems among the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation community to be a continuous issue. “We will not rest until our fish are safe to eat again.” 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 … [7] Some of the health issues associated with the consumption of the mercury infested fish in the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation community includes numbness, hearing loss, headaches, dizziness and limb cramps. Maan Alhmidi / The Canadian Press. Grassy Narrows First Nations chief hails more funding for mercury treatment centre. [8][9][10] Both the paper and chemical companies ceased operations in 1976, after 14 years of operations. March 2, 2016 NDP critic for Aboriginal Affairs, France Gélinas, says it is time for the provincial government to act on promises to clean up mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River in Grassy Narrows and provide the community 100 kilometres north of Kenora with safe drinking water. [7][24], Ultimately, while the socioeconomic status of the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation people partially explains why the First Nation group still consumes the mercury-infested fish, the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation culture also contributes to the ingestion of fish by the Indigenous group. 1840-1877 Sandy Bar Cree/Saulteaux community established at Sandy Bar/Grassy Narrows. But fish ingest neuro-toxins dumped into the river by a pulp mill upstream in the 1960s and 1970s. It has a registered population of 1,595 as of October 2019, of which the on-reserve population was 971[2] They are a signatory to Treaty 3. Pollution meant the English-Wabigoon River had to be closed to commercial fishing. [3] In 90%+ unemployment rate in 1970, closing of the commercial fishery meant economic disaster for the Indian reserve. [8], Conversely, the mercury contamination by the pulp and paper industry may be defined as environmental racism. [22], The amount of mercury present in fish as of 2012 was low according to Health Canada, that being said, a health advisory still remains in effect. Story continues below advertisement. But instead of the Oka-esque militancy that stereotypes might conjure, it was the quiet Davidian confidence of a people prepared for the corporate Goliath. "[26], The reserve's other environmental concern is the mass extraction of trees for paper. Matthew Coon Come, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, showed his support at the blockade Feb.27. 1869 Hudson Bay Company transfer of Rupert’s Land to the Crown. It was past midnight as we stood around the bonfire beside a logging road in northwestern Ontario. In 1871, Grassy Narrows First Nation, together with other Ojibway tribes, made a treaty with the Canadian government, The Crown, in the person of Queen Victoria, giving up aboriginal title to a large tract of land in northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba, Treaty 3 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibbeway Indians at the Northwest Angle on the Lake of the Woods with Adhesions. Grassy Narrows is located on Garden Lake, a small lake connected by a meandering creek that leads to the magnificent English River. Grassy Narrows First Nations youth are renowned for their activism, art, and leadership in spite of mercury burden Today Grassy Narrows released a ground-breaking new report by renowned mercury expert Dr. Donna Mergler. © 2020 Citizens for Public Justice. Fobister says it doesn’t smell like sewage the way it used to. [18][19] Moreover, in June 2017, the Ontario government pledged $85 million to clean up the industrial mercury contamination. ““I didn’t do that last night. Jobs vanished and welfare dependency increased. In exchange a spacious tract of land, as much as a square mile of land for each family, in a favourable location on the Wabigoon-English River system was reserved for the use of the tribe. The band said the construction timeline of two to three years is “achievable” as long as “Canada cooperates.” Grassy Narrows residents first began to … The reserve is connected to areas beyond by local roads connecting with Highway 671. [7] Additionally, the chemical waste from the industry in Dryden has impacted the health of the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation peoples, as well as the Wabaseemoong First Nation community (Wabaseemoong Independent Nations) further downstream. [7][24][25] According to First Nations people, fish is one of the healthiest substances that can be consumed. Indian Affairs official James Cutfeet would provide no clarification of Indian Affairs policy on the fundamental matter of treaty rights outside reserves. [21][14] In particular, it is because the walleye are roughly 40-90 times the advisable mercury intake limit for pregnant women, children and women who hope to bear offspring that the walleye is predominately hazardous. The Trudeau administration committed to building the centre when Chief Simon Fobister and Jane Philpott, minister of Indigenous Services, met in 2017. Protection of boreal forests, which constitute a majority of the world’s remaining intact forest, are seen as critical in maintaining carbon balance and averting climate crisis. Only time will tell how this David and Goliath tale will unfold and whether treaties can be made to work for both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people. Police say runaway Hong Kong politician probed for security crime . [16], Grassy Narrows First Nation received a settlement in 1985 from the Government of Canada and the Reed Paper Company that bought-out the Dryden Pulp and Paper Company and its sister-company Dryden Chemical Company. Longtime CPJ members will remember the years of work by former staffperson John Olthuis to help the band receive compensation for the ravages of mercury poisoning from a Reed Paper mill upstream in Dryden. Be careful with Abitibi!”, the final word revised by forest advocates. [12][11] The waste from the industry upstream has not merely affected the Wabigoon River system, the mercury contamination has also infected water sources that the Wabigoon River system feeds into such as Clay Lake and Ed Wilson Landing. Previously he worked with Mennonite Central Committee. Ontario Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning.It occurred in the Canadian province of Ontario, in 1970, and severely affected two First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario following consumption of local fish contaminated with mercury, and one First Nation in Southern Ontario due to illegal disposal of industrial chemical waste. He succeeds Rudy Turtle, who had also run in the last federal election. That’s hard to do in a clearcut. Each parcel was selected for access to fishing and hunting grounds and for suitability for gardening. And no timeline has been given for the next phase of design or construction. “They act like they own the forest, as though we are accountable to them.”. [7] The Dryden Chemical company discharged their effluent into the Wabigoon-English River system. This highway provides connection to Kenora, 68.7 km (42.7 mi) to the south. Details Category: Local News Published: Friday, 05 June 2020 11:52 Written by Rikki Watson. She … Joe Fobister is one of those around the fire. 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. The 1000 people of Grassy Narrows cannot survive off a 14 square mile reserve. Nor are Grassy Narrows residents alone in seeking access to the wealth and opportunities that surround them. The issue of Aboriginal rights to customary lands outside reserves is critical for Grassy Narrows’ hopes of attaining self-reliance. After you have parked your vehicle in the secure lighted parking lot in Morson, you board one of our comfortable cruisers for … The ultimate goal of the blockaders is Asubpeeschoseewagong jurisdiction over their customary lands, giving them the ability to protect their … Tired of watching logging trucks haul away the bounty of their 2,500 square mile Traditional Land Use Area, the people of Grassy Narrows are inserting themselves into decision-making in their homeland. Grassy Narrows, ON, is the common name for both a reserve and an Ojibwe First Nation. The Canadian wilderness is an awesome adventure. Pointing to a purple blotch where he shares a cabin with a Grassy Narrows trapper, he says, “If they cut here, we’ll have to pretend we’re living in a forest.” He cares about old growth forests and a way of life. Grassy Narrows has struggled successfully for fair treatment in the past. [8] The former spokesman for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Chris Bentley claimed that the policies pertaining to the environment have since been amended to prevent occurrences like the disposal of mercury by the pulp and paper industry in Dryden. Grassy Narrows’ Chief Simon Fobister responded saying “I invite the Premier to put this historic commitment in writing and sign it alongside me in proper ceremony so that we can know it is real. In Grassy Narrows First Nation v Ontario (Natural Resources), 2014 SCC 48, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) unanimously determined that Ontario has the jurisdiction under the Crown to take up land covered by the Ontario Boundaries Extension Act, SC 1912, c 40, s 2, Treaty No. All Rights Reserved. The Grassy Narrows band began seeking compensation in 1970. The Clarion Lakeside Inn in Kenora is still undergoing repairs and renovations after a fire in January. 1840 Methodist Mission established in Norway House. 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