Indigenous Eastern Desk

AFN National Chief Bellegarde Demands Immediate Action For A Mercury Care Home In Grassy Narrows First Nation

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Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald stood today with Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Rudy Turtle, representatives from the First Nation and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in support of immediate action for a mercury treatment center for Grassy Narrows First Nation.

“I support the call for mercury justice and immediate action to establish a Mercury Care Home for the citizens of Grassy Narrows First Nation,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Honouring promises means keeping promises, and the federal government promised the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation a treatment centre two years ago. Grassy Narrows has led the way by putting forward a strong plan for the Mercury Care Home. High-quality services will allow people to be treated at the mercury care home, with the care and respect they deserve. The people of Grassy Narrows need this, and the provincial and federal governments need to act now to work with Grassy Narrows for full construction and operation. The problem has been ignored for forty years. It is time to act.”

Over the last 40 years, community members have been dealing with poor health-related to contamination from a chemical plant dumping mercury into the English-Wabigoon River near Grassy Narrows. Current health services in Grassy Narrows First Nation are limited to a small nursing station with basic primary care.  The Mercury Care Home is a unique facility that would provide culturally appropriate live-in care for community members of all ages and provide out-patient care to all Grassy Narrows citizens for the physical and mental health impacts of mercury.

“I have and will continue to support Grassy Narrows First Nation. Strong leaders like Steve Fobister Sr., Simon Fobister and so many others have fought to establish a mercury care facility and, tragically, did not see it come to fruition. The Chiefs in Ontario have long supported Grassy Narrows in their request for the government to make this a priority. Immediate engagement and implementation is greatly needed to ensure the health and wellness that Grassy Narrows deserves is achieved,” stated Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “We strongly support Grassy Narrows’ call for mercury justice and for the expedient completion of the Mercury Care Home following the First Nation’s plan. I urge the province and the federal government to work in cooperation with Grassy Narrows to meaningfully deliver the services Grassy Narrows and all those affected by mercury poisoning have long awaited.”

Hundreds of First Nations leaders, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, women, youth and other delegates are gathered for the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) taking place December 3-5, 2019 at the Westin Hotel on unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation in Ottawa, Ontario.

The gathering will once again outline the needs of the Indigenous people and the role all levels of government will play in the upcoming new year.