Grassy Narrows: Justice long overdue for First Nation confronting devastating impacts of mercury poisoning

“You look at the lake, it looks good, it looks clean, the fish look all right. How to believe that something like that could turn against you?” – the late Steve Fobister Sr., former Chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, quoted in the Toronto Star

“Steve always wanted the government to admit that he had been poisoned by mercury. Now we take up his fight to honour him.” – the family of Steve Fobister, Sr. 

In October, Steve Fobister Sr., a leader and spokesperson for the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario, died after a long struggle with mercury poisoning. He was only 66. His family and friends are clear that the struggle he helped lead is far from over.

For more than five decades, the people of Grassy Narrows have been forced to live with the devastating consequences of a government policy that allowed massive amounts of mercury to be dumped into their river system. It’s no coincidence that Grassy Narrows, whose traditions and economy revolve around fishing, faces the worst community health crisis in Canada.

A generation of leaders like Steve Fobister, who spoke out for the community when the mercury poisoning was first discovered, have had to deal with a lifetime of worsening health. At the same time, studies have shown that the symptoms of mercury poisoning are also widespread among young people in the community, even though they were born long after the federal and provincial governments reassured the community that the mercury threat would have vanished.

Amnesty is continuing is work in solidarity with the people of Grassy Narrows with a new action appeal urging the federal government to acknowledge the devastating impacts on mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows and provide immediate and effective measures to address the harm, including compensation and specialized medical care.


Take action online


Adapt the message for personal letters to federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott

The Honourable Jane Philpott
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

(No postage required.)