mercury poisoning in grassy narrows

An edited book of Indigenous authors, Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada, offers detailed accounts of environmental justice in Canada from Indigenous perspectives (Haluza-DeLay et al. Judy da Silva has published a variety of works (2010a, 2010b, 2011). Miscreognition as a cause of environmental injustice is exemplified in Indigenous and settler colonial relations in Canada (da Silva 2008). This networked approach, while targeting instances of pollution and environmental degradation, also continue to expand their network and increase momentum towards the larger goal of decolonization. Commercial hazard site location and functioning burden certain populations while others benefit (ibid). Recognition must “expand an inclusive conception of the environment to include the natural world and the animals that inhabit it, and the concern for human health and industrial impacts on individuals and communities” (ibid). Image by Shelby Gilson. 2010. Cultural groups cannot be understood as fixed and static entities (Woolford 2009). One of the main things that our people did, had to do with the river and that was taken away from our people,” Isaacs said. Community member’s efforts to address the burdens of environmental hazards simultaneously work towards reclaiming traditions and asserting treaty-promised autonomy. "[We want] our issues to be dealt with seriously by the medical establishment in Canada and in Ontario," says Grassy Narrows First Nations Chief Simon Fobister in 1985 (CBC 2010). “Grassy Narrows Youth Gathering.” Support Grassy Narrows First Nations (Website run by solidarity activists and Grassy Narrows organizers). The delegitimizing of Indigenous worldviews has deep political and economic consequences (Schlosberg 2007). The community maintained economic autonomy until 1947-1948, when the Ontario government implemented resource management and licensing (ibid) via the Ontario Department of Lands and Fisheries (which became the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in 1972) (Kerr 2010). Destroying the forest is an act of violence towards the community because it sustains their life (p.o. The State nearly controls all of the land and resources in Canada and continues creating future plans to exploit Indigenous territories (da Silva 2008). 2012a. It can cause neurological damage and reproductive issues long-term, and is especially harmful to children. da Silva, Judy. Decades of government inaction. Honouring Indigenous title became a hindrance to further western expansion, economic development, and state formation. “Grassy Narrows marchers offer government mercury-tainted fish.” Windspeaker 30(4). They are a strong group in Canada for activism, resistance, and environmental justice struggles (Wolfson 2011). Two, many Indigenous perspectives, the treaties secured their traditional territories, to ensure self-governance, and self-determination (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007). Awareness of the concentration of environmental hazards is not enough; further research illuminates underlying reasons behind this maldistribution (Schlosberg 2007). Caine, Natalie. My perspective as an ally to the Grassy Narrows’ community and Indigenous struggles for decolonization also offers a contemporary perspective in the environmental justice literature. It shows where his priorities are,” said Chief Turtle. [The company] paid $50 million in dividends and in 1985 offered its stockholders a 4-to-1 stock split. Unpacking the Grassy Narrows case study using four factors of environmental injustice– the distributional patterns of environmental hazards, the historical processes which determine hazard distributions, patterns of non-recognition, and unequal access to decision making – illuminates how Indigenous oppression secures their land for settlement and capitalist expansion. Any legislation protecting Indigenous land rights was rendered useless once Crown title over land became achievable through “discovery” in the late 1800s (Kulchyski 2007). Vast lands were appropriated from Indigenous cultures and only the smallest sections of land were “gifted back” to them (Smith 2012). 28 Sept 2012). London-Verso. 1988. 2009: 10). Western reality became reified as representing something better, reflecting higher orders of thinking (Smith 2012: 48). Gloria Fobister raises a feather over her head following her reading of a prayer that ended the march. This allows environmentally destructive industrial technologies to develop in Indigenous territories, while settler communities experience less industrial harms (ibid). New York: Oxford University Press. They suggest distribution patterns are a good “entry point” for a deeper analysis of the socio-historical processes and institutions that create maldistributed hazards, illuminating how they are reproduced and why people within governments and corporations are adamant on doing so (ibid). Having society allocate “rights, goods, and liberties” to some populations, while not to others, is a method of regulating and maintaining social inequality (ibid: 12). More than 10,000 years ago, the first conflict with the government of Canada began shortly after colonization. New York: Motor City Books. “The Violence of the Letter: Land Claims and Continuing Colonial Conquest in Canada.” Canadian Dimension 41(1). Saxe, Dianne. 2001. Kraus, Krystalline. (more…) Grassy Narrows, Wapekeka, and Kl First Nations enter into Mutual Cooperation Protocol, pledge to stand together to protect the Lands and Waters of their Homelands A case study is “expected to capture the complexity of a single case” (Johannson 2003). Clement, Dave. A second indicator of environmental injustice is the maldistribution of environmental hazards from industrial growth onto particular populations, namely poor, Indigenous, or coloured communities (Schlosberg 2007). Haluza-DeLay, Randolph, Pat O’Riley, Peter Cole, and Julian Agyeman. In the late 1960s, people in the Grassy Narrows and Whitedog First Nations populations started to suffer symptoms of mercury poisoning. 1999. Meant as a means of assimilation, residential schools separated Indigenous children from their communities and culture. In the 1960s, the Dryden Chemical Company used mercury in a process to create the materials needed to bleach paper at a paper mill along the English-Wabigoon River, just 320 kilometers upstream from Grassy Narrows. Ali, Harris. Indigenous groups’ identities, including those who are animist (Hallowell 1975), require a relationship with territory different from land ownership and control; instead, a reciprocal relationship of mutual respect (Woolford 2009). Rather, these fields demonstrate patterns of relations where certain practices and ideologies are valued over others. “Our livelihood was taken away. Grassy Narrows lies about 120 miles east of Winnipeg, with an approximate population of 1490 people (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in Canada 2012). The consistent refusal of governments to uphold treaty agreements may indicate the level to which Indigenous communities across Canada are actively denied access to decision making processes that implicate their lives and land. Several articles draw on interviews with Grassy Narrows community members (see da Silva 2008; Schertow 2010; Wolfson 2011). 1987. Methodology: Critical Literature Review, Case Study, and Autoethnography. In Grassy Narrows, these projects include pulp and paper mills, logging, and clear-cutting. 2003. “No matter what they hit us with, we always come back up again,” Chief Turtle ensures the crowd in Toronto. Diagnosis: Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison. I’d like all the people that live in the urban centres, the big cities, to get in touch with the earth and the earth will give them guidance and the earth is our mother (da Silva 2008). Environmental injustice often stems from patterns of non- or mis-recognition of different cultures and worldviews (Fraser 2000). In 2010, Doctor Harada stated that, based on his research within the community, “the amount of mercury poison-related symptoms in the community is much higher than government data identifies” (ibid). The discovery doctrine gave Europeans power to put up a flag on any given territory, instantly giving them exclusive jurisdiction. The name "McGill" is used with the permission from McGill University (University Secretariat). It’s become a source of great frustration for Chief Rudy Turtle and his community. Grassy Narrows’ activism often mobilizes alongside other activist networks such as the Boreal Forest Network, the Rainforest Action Network (Willow 2012a, 2012b), Christian Peacemaker Teams, Amnesty International, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace Canada (Caine 2012), and the Idle No More movement to work towards environmental justice and decolonization. A group of Grassy Narrows First Nation residents and their supporters stand below a "Justice for Grassy Narrows" banner. Canada, 2019. 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. Woolford, Andrew. Understanding the maldistribution of environmental hazards as resulting from historical processes of misrecognition and procedural injustice is a useful framework for understanding Indigenous experiences of environmental injustice because it involves surveying the various practices and mechanisms throughout colonial history that determine the maldistribution of hazards. I organize my arguments within each of the four factors of environmental injustice: historical processes, distribution of environmental hazards, misrecognition, and procedural injustice. In 1970, the Ontariogovernment ordered th… This latter point is especially important for Indigenous communities like Grassy Narrows, for whom the environment and human societies are not separate entities. Education is key to addressing patterns of misrecognition; disseminating information amongst non-Indigenous communities continues to unsettle the founding white myth of a peaceful Canadian settlement (Regan 2010). Dryden Chemical Company dumped about 10 tonnes of mercury into the river between 1962 and 1970. Parts of land were surrendered in exchange for one-time cash payments (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007). Anna Willow has done extensive work on the Grassy Narrows blockade and Anishinaabe clear-cutting activism in Northwestern Ontario, with a focus on environmental education, culture, and language (2011, 2012a, 2012b). “Ontological Destruction: Genocide and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.” Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 4(1): 81-97. Discussion about Indigenous communities and environmental injustice exists mainly amongst researchers focusing on environmental racism (Cole & Foster 2001; Pellow 2000). Relying on non-Indigenous perspectives to discuss Indigenous experiences is historically a colonial approach to conducting research (Smith 2012). Together, community members from Grassy Narrows and their supporters marched from Queen’s Park, the home of the Ontario Legislative Building, to the Indigenous Services Office to bring awareness to their cause. The tendency for environmental justice groups to focus on these matters on a local level, “dealing with specific community-contamination events, the harmful health effects of local pollution on members of the community, and the local politics involved therein,” is understandable because each situation is very much place-based and “context-dependent” (Ali 2009: 97). First, I am an “outsider” (Smith 2012) to Grassy Narrows. A Theory of Justice. 28 Sept 2012). Powell, Christopher. The new space was not consistent with their cultural lifestyles (Rodgers 2009). Understanding the role of the environment in Anishinaabe culture illuminates how industrial destruction of the environment undermines Grassy Narrows’ ways of life. 2010a. … Corporate Power and Canadian Capitalism. “It poisoned our people, and still, today, years later it’s still leaking into the river system that the river people have lived along—you know, hunt and fish everyday. This section analyzes various interconnecting historical processes of capitalism and colonialism and how Grassy Narrows’ experiences with industrial hazards developed from these processes. In resistance movements, raising public awareness is always paramount (Starhawk 2011). “How Grassy Narrows’ lawsuit could change aboriginal-government relations across Canada.” This Magazine. And I do my prayers for my people. The creation of the numbered treaties began in 1871 and was not finished until 1930. European settlement was still encouraged, however, and the shift to agricultural and resource development made regulation and Indigenous claims to their territories problematic (Woolford 2005: 43). Mercury poisoning as part of unequal distributional patterns of environmental hazards amongst colonized communities in Canada. 28 Sept 2012). I was unable to incorporate many of my conversations with various community members, besides what was discussed as public knowledge. My ears keep ringing all the time; it really makes me sad,” said Grassy Narrows elder Raphael Fobister at a march in Toronto. In Canada, European settlers are created in relation to Indigenous peoples – the good and pure in relation to the barbaric – and this relationship is one of "power, domination, of varying degrees of complex hegemony" (Said 1978: 5). British Columbia: UBC Press. Fraser, Nancy. Not every program, policy, and individual working within these fields contributes to the colonization of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Between when the mercury was discovered in 1970 and 1984, Reed’s operations (who changed their name to avoid liabilities, but remained under the same management) received net profits of $235 million,averaging almost forty million annually. My research methodology combines critical literature review and case study with autoethnography. Sources are selected to show existing literature on environmental injustice, colonialism, capitalism, and Grassy Narrows First Nation. Yet Turtle says only five per cent meet guidelines to be disability compensation. Scientists tend to downplay scientific evidence of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows in the mainstream media, either suggesting the results are inconclusive or completely ignoring the issue (Rodgers 2009). While visiting the blockade on September 28, 2012, I learned about its role of resistance in Grassy Narrows Anishinaabe culture. Instead, an emergence of a covert system of racism is created to escape the “opprobrium of open racism by diminishing issues of biology and focusing instead on questions of culture and ethnicity” (ibid: 95). Natalia is involved in community-based activist groups working towards equality, inclusivity, and decolonization in Canada. To determine if a population is experiencing negative impacts of environmental hazards, one examines the commercial hazard site and determines who benefits from, and who is burdened, by its location (Cole & Foster 2001). 1971. Free Grassy Narrows. 2008. People are divided over the appropriateness of the blockade as a resistance tactic (p.o. 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. Institute of International Studies: University of California, Berkeley. 2008. Overt racism, which argues biological distinctions create differences between Indigenous people and white Europeans, has diminished in the last 30 years (Ratannsi 2007). The promise that Trudeau’s government gave to Grassy Narrows, the money required for the building and upkeep of a mercury care home in the community, could mean nothing to a new government and the money could be reallocated. Vancouver: UBC Press. 2012, January 30. Race and the Enlightenment. 2008. Importantly, their actions demonstrate that decolonization and environmental justice cannot be understood separately of one another. DVD. Retrieved from Ball, David P. 2012. The government’s version of Treaty 3 suggests that the land was given to the Canadian government as a gift from the Anishinaabe community, who apparently signed their rights away gladly (Blaikie 2012). One-time cash payments became too expensive. “Speaking for Ourselves, Speaking Together: Environmental Justice in Canada.” Speaking for Ourselves. Ideally, this paper would be more community-led to avoid further misrepresentation of the community. Persky, Stan. Racialized spaces are targeted with industrial hazards because the people who live there have been historically deemed unworthy of respect. Initial Indigenous and settler contact in what is now known as Canada occurred in the eleventh century, however, it was not until the fifteenth century that Europeans began settling the East coast and entrepreneurs began claiming territory on the West coast for resource exploitation (Woolford 2009). Eze, Emmanuel Chukwudi. I use the term “injustice,” rather than “justice,” for the same concept because I focus heavily on the unjust aspects of capitalist destruction of the environment. So Due to spatial and temporal inconsistencies of colonial processes, it is “difficult to offer a brief and unified overview of colonial … history in Canada” (Woolford 2013: 66). Schlosberg (2007) argues that environmental risks need to be addressed by looking at “distribution, recognition, capabilities, procedural justice, and participation” in both human and nonhuman realms (p. 7). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. Vecsey (1987) provides an in-depth analysis on the government and corporate destruction of Grassy Narrows’ traditional land. The Papom documents reflect the oral history much more closely than the government’s version (ibid). 2007. Mercury levels remain elevated in the animals and fish and are concentrated in top sediment layers, proving contamination is recent (ibid). “Mercury Poisoning in grassy Narrows?” The CBC Digital Archives Website. After years of fighting to be heard, in December 2017, then-Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott promised the community that the federal government would pay for the construction and operation of a treatment center in Grassy Narrows. I then suggest a different approach to understanding environmental injustices experiences by Indigenous communities that acknowledges the colonial reality in Canada. These theorists agree that all four aspects of environmental injustice need to be addressed for justice to ensue. Important to note, Grassy Narrows is not a homogenous group of one mind. London: Earthscan. Residents of Grassy Narrows and their supporters lie on the ground in front of the Indigenous Services Canada Office in Toronto. Canadian land surrender treaties were settled upon in two ways. San Francisco: City Lights Books. 28 Sept 2012). Environmental justice recognizes that distributional patterns of hazards created by industrialization disproportionately affect marginalized communities (Schlosberg 2007). The case of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows cannot simply be understood as an incident of pollution without looking at the historically created colonial patterns that justify it. CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Environmental injustice cannot be understood by looking at isolated instances where marginalized populations are negatively affected by environmental inequalities- it must be understood as a socio-historical process that evolves over time (Pellow 2000). “Environmental wars” are waged against government and corporate encroachment to protect Anishinaabe cultural and spiritual life (da Silva 2011: 89). 2010, April 6. Retrieved from Isuma TV: Respect of each group’s way of life was to be maintained. I did not make observations within the community using an objective positivistic approach. I only draw upon observations and experiences that were shared by community members and allies as public knowledge through public meetings, including the Grassy Narrows Blockade Panel Discussion and Book Launch at the University of Winnipeg on November 13, 2012 and the allied learning delegation I attended from September 27-29, 2012, in Grassy Narrows. As Satzewich and Liodakis (2007: 39) point out: “The federal government tends to favour narrow, literal interpretations of the obligations outlined in the treaties. His paper describes the consequences of systematic land theft, misrecognition of Indigenous worldviews, and procedural injustices. Science is manipulated to suit different (even opposing) positions when determining causes and effects of environmental issues, serving political and economic interests (ibid). Don Mills: Oxford University Press. In addition to the effects on the health of the people, the mercury in their water system has all but eliminated Grassy Narrows ability to financially sustain itself. Today, misrecognitions of cultures, ethnicities, and “ways of life,” are embedded in public and private spheres, which hold racist connotations that are taken for granted (ibid: 99). 2012. As pressure for the settlement of Western Canada grew, the government’s treaty-making strategy changed (ibid). She explores how Grassy Narrows’ activists and environmentalists can work together towards undermining particular industrial projects, which is integral to saving land from destruction (ibid). “Rethinking Recognition.” New Left Review 3(May/June): 107-20. 2011. Willow, Anna J. 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