“The one thing we’ve been asking the Prime Minister to [do, is] come to our community and I keep mentioning that over and over again and I was very disappointed. Pressure for settlement was growing and guarantees contained in the 1763 Royal Proclamation protecting Native land for the purposes of hunting and trapping became problematic for settlement (ibid). Retrieved from http://this.org/magazine/tag/andrew-keewatin/. Churchill, Ward. The Ontario government insisted that the poisonous fish were safe to eat, while the community increasingly showed signs of mercury poisoning (Vecsey 1987). “How to do (or not to do) a critical literature review.” Pharmacy Education 6(2): 139-148. This event demonstrates environmental justice issues being addressed using a networked approach embedded in cultural practices and decolonizing strategies. I do not pretend to decide which realities are real and which are not; there is no authentic perspective of phenomenon besides that of one’s own lived experience. Continued exposure to mercury can lead to permanent brain and kidney damage and, often, early death. The Strength of Women. My methodology starts with a critical literature review, used to “tell a story and help to advance our understandings of what is already known” (Jesson & Lacey 2006: 139). Vancouver: UBC Press. Retrieved from http://pse5-esd5.ainc-inac.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/FNRegPopulation.aspx?BA.... Asubpeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek. The fifth volume of MSR is now available here. Symptoms include: speech, taste, and smell impairment, difficulty swallowing, choking, blurry vision, loss of strength (CBC 2012, January 30), “tunnel vision, loss of co-ordination, numbness, tremors, loss of balance” (CBC 2009, July 29), and accelerated body deterioration, leading to impaired motor functioning (da Silva in Ball 2012). The relationship between Canada and the people of the First Nations has always been touched by conflict. These claims are suspect considering that doctors and professionals have consistently found dangerously high levels of mercury in both the water system and the local food supply, as well as in the local residents (Schertow 2010). Students from the community come to the blockade as part of and outside of school to learn about their traditional ways of life, including nonviolent direct action against the government (p.o. 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). Treaty-making began in Canada with the decline of the fur trade (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007: 36). 2003. Here's a sneak peak. From this perspective, everyone should be able live according to their own worldviews, and nations should maintain interdependent relationships without undermining each other’s ability to flourish (Blaikie 2012). Mercury poisoning in Asupeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows), an Anishinaabe community in Northwestern Ontario, is an important example of environmental injustice. http://intercontinentalcry.org/mercury-poisoning-in-grassy-narrows-worse... http://www.academia.edu/395112/Environmental_Justice_and_Environmental_R... http://this.org/magazine/tag/andrew-keewatin/. MSR is now available in libraries around the world on Proquest's online social science article databases. Although the specifics of the treaties varied, “they generally included the setting aside of reserve lands, cash annuities, and the provision of agricultural implements” (ibid: 37). “Metabolic Rift and Marine Ecology: An Analysis of the Ocean Crisis Within Capitalism Production.” Organization & Environment 18(4): 422-44. 2010. Bill Fobister, a … 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. 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. Otherwise, the river system would have buried the mercury naturally over time source. From my personal interactions with several activists from Grassy Narrows, I observe that a many of the community’s activists value direct action. I am involved with Grassy Narrows’ solidarity groups, including Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement. Fraser, Nancy. New South Whale: Allen & Unwin. Clear-cutting replaces forest with barren waste-land where animals are unable to survive. Le capitalisme et l’industrialisation sont des processus fondamentalement anti-écologiques qui requièrent un apport incessant de ressources naturelles afin de satisfaire le besoin de croissance illimité du capitalisme. Residents of Grassy Narrows and their supporters lie on the ground in front of the Indigenous Services Canada Office in Toronto. The Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) people have lived with the consequences of one of the worst cases of environmental poisoning in Canadian history. The agreement proposed by O’Regan was not legally binding and Grassy Narrows community members were dissatisfied with the proposed agreement, finding it to be an unreliable promise. 1989. Orui, Tadashi. I draw heavily upon the writings and teachings of Judy da Silva- Grassy Narrows Elder, earth protector, community advocate, and community leader. 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). Today, almost 90 percent of Grassy Narrows community members suffer from symptoms of mercury poisoning. Ratannsi, Ali. First, I am an “outsider” (Smith 2012) to Grassy Narrows. Saskatchewan Indian Federated College 11(1-2). “Speaking for Ourselves, Speaking Together: Environmental Justice in Canada.” In Julian Agyeman, Peter Cole, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, and Pat O’Riley (Eds.) donate now to support more stories like this! Grassy Narrows elder Bill Fobister Sr. and youth representative Rodney Bruce look on as Chief Rudy Turtle speaks during a news conference at the … … Historically, science was a colonial tool for oppression used to “prove” race (Ratannsi 2007). 2000. The land is central to spirituality, culture, and survival (ibid). Cultures exist as continuous networks of interactions and negotiations, and are constantly shifting and adapting (Woolford 2009). Since 2012, I have attended meetings and workshops hosted by activists from the community. The government controlled Indigenous access to capital, technology, and other resources necessary for self-determination (Bolaria & Li 1988). In fields of government and corporations, processes of nation-building and colonial ideologies are valued over Indigenous sovereignty and land rights, creating inequality (Milloy 1999). As Cole and Foster (2001: 79) point out, “focusing on the distributional results alone obscures the social structure and institutional context in which environmental decisions are made”. Penticton, BC: Theytus Books Ltd. Adamson, Joni. According to a summary of the report, the lack of elders in Grassy Narrows is representative of lower life expectancy and has potential to lead to a loss of traditional values. The Royal Proclamation was implemented in 1763 by the British Crown to protect “Indian Territory” from aggressive prospectors and to preserve military alliances (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007: 35). 2011). His paper describes the consequences of systematic land theft, misrecognition of Indigenous worldviews, and procedural injustices. Fish and Fisheries Management in Ontario: A Chronology of Events: Biodiversity Branch. In autoethnography, both critical observations made by the researcher, and perspectives shared by community members, are subjective (Stake 2008). 1873-2016: The tragic story of the mercury poisoning of the water, fish, and people of the Grassy Narrows First Nation Last week, environmental organization Earthroots came out with evidence of mercury contamination upstream from the Grassy Narrows First Nation. It was while the Liberal Party of Canada was in power that these promises were made to the Grassy Narrows community. Even those sections do not remain under Indigenous control. Similarly, the Ontario and federal governments, as well as capitalist industry in Canada, cannot be understood as monolithic entities. 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). The involved corporations, and the Ontario and federal governments, continue to impede on the Anishinaabe peoples’ traditional ways of life through various tactics, including the refusal to address the issue of contamination and the continual exploitation of Grassy Narrows land for commercial gains (da Silva 2008). 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). Benefits include access to resources, opportunities (such as employment), and freedoms to make desirable choices. Retrieved from http://www.grassynarrows.ca/news-and-issues/working-groups/. 2009: 10). It must “be a complex functioning unit, be investigated in its natural context with a multitude of methods, and be contemporary” (ibid). Canada: The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada. 28 Sept 2012). “The Political Economy of Environmental Inequality: The Social Distribution of Risk as an Environmental Injustice.” In Julian Agyeman, Peter Cole, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, and Pat O’Riley (Eds. Two, many Indigenous perspectives, the treaties secured their traditional territories, to ensure self-governance, and self-determination (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007). Grassy Narrows lost the basis for its economy when the local fishery was shut down in the 1970s because of the mercury poisoning. Wolfson, Carmelle. Within environmental injustice and environmental racism literature, a gap presents itself; there is limited work focusing on Indigenous communities in Canada. Annett, Kevin. Hidden From History: The Canadian Holocaust. 2010a. “Our livelihood was taken away. Her MA research explores how colonial genocide in Canada can be understood by settler researchers working from within the academy in a way congruous to decolonizing principals. “Ontario Appeal court rules against Grassy Narrows: Ontario has jurisdiction over territory.” Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. 1997. Grassy Narrows experiences disproportionate hazardous impacts as a result of the mercury dumping (Orui 2010). “How Grassy Narrows’ lawsuit could change aboriginal-government relations across Canada.” This Magazine. In 1970, the high levels of contamination forced the community to stop commercial and tourist fishing (Kerr 2010) - one of the last avenues for traditional economic living (Kraus 2013). Finally, this case was investigated in its natural context through my personal time spent within Grassy Narrows and in Winnipeg with Grassy Narrows’ activist groups. Otherwise, the majority of case studies look at Native Americans in the United States (see Adamson 2001; Cole & Foster 2001; Pellow 200; Turner & Pei Wu 2002) or focus internationally (see Schlosberg 2007; Westra 2008), without taking an in-depth look at Canada. I did not make observations within the community using an objective positivistic approach. 2013. 28 Sept 2012). A historical survey of the colonizing project in Canada, focusing on government appropriation of Indigenous lands for commercial gains, establishes some understanding of the broader colonial context within which Grassy Narrows fits. 2002). Canada, 2019. Small budgets lead to imbalanced diets contributing to type 2 diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, and plasto-illnesses- never seen in the community previously (p.o. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press. My understanding of peoples’ experiences within Grassy Narrows continues to grow from both observing and listening to stories and teachings, as well as from participating in cultural and activist activities (which I have learned are not mutually exclusive). 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. Through forced licensing and regulating, the government undermined the community’s remaining socio-economic avenues (including trapping, gardening, hunting, medicine gathering, and fishing) (ibid). Grassy Narrows and Treaties: Understanding patterns of unequal access to decision making. In May 2019, O’Regan visited Grassy Narrows to sign an agreement on the construction and operation of a health facility in the community. A chloralkali plant, built in Dryden, ON, Canada in 1962, discharged 10 000 kg of mercury (Hg) into the extensive English-Wabigoon water system, 1 destroying the community's livelihood, major … Members of Grassy Narrows continue to actively struggle against these destructive colonial practices in their fight for environmental justice- a fight I am humbly an ally to. Historically, Indigenous land rights have been upheld by the courts, although this has been an underrepresented outcome (see Alacantara, 2007; Hamley 1993; McGaw 2003; Perskey 1998). Adams, Howard. 28 Sept 2012). Dryden Chemical Company dumped about 10 tonnes of mercury into the river between 1962 and 1970. 13 Nov 2012). da Silva, Judy. Grassy Narrows already filed their appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada in response to Ontario’s court ruling to issue logging permits on Indigenous territories (Forest Talk 2013). It’s become a source of great frustration for Chief Rudy Turtle and his community. 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. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing. While it reduced in intensity in 2009, the blockade remains the longest running in North American history. 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). 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). This happens at a rate of about 1 percent every year (Hightower 2009). 1999. Honneth, Axel. 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). Racialization and inferiorization is used to justify the exploitation of Indigenous land. 2001. APTN National News. In 1980 the company began a $250 million expansion of Reed's Dryden operations, and the Ontario and Federal Governments awarded Great Lakes $48 million in grants for their expansion (Vecsey 1987: 300). Visiting Grassy, I learnt about land-based cultural activities that are part people’s daily realities. To conduct this case study, I utilize literature review into secondary sources (described above), first-hand accounts from interviews and articles written by community members, and autoethnography. 2006. At the same time, major corporations reaped the benefits. 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). The staple protein for many within the community is fish (da Silva 2008). When the company was finished with the mercury cells, it would dump them into the river. Orientalism. “To Treaty or Not to Treaty? “Re(con)figuring Alliances: Place Membership, Environmental Justice, and the Remaking of Indigenous-Environmentalist Relationships in Canada’s Boreal Forest.” Sociological Abstracts 71(4): 371-82. 1998. 2010. Ali, Harris. Current treaty disputes in Canada are considered violent by some because the modern treaty processes can be just as fraudulent and coercive as they historically were (Kulchyski 2007). In addition to genocide and postcolonialism/decolonization, her research interests include race relations, power dynamics, the construction of the Other, and resistance movements. For this reason, “land and environment are not simply means of sustaining group life, but as key components of group life” (ibid: 89). Toxins travel to large organs and in pregnant women the mercury settles in the fetus, leading to birth defects (Vecsey 1987). This paper contributes to filling that gap by discussing these topics in a Canadian context. The mill leaked about 9000 kilograms of mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system between 1962 and 1970 (ibid). In 1999, Joseph Fobister, Andrew Keewatin, and Willie Keewatin - three trappers from Grassy Narrows - sued logging companies to stop clear-cutting on their territory (Wolfson 2011). Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada. Cultural groups cannot be understood as fixed and static entities (Woolford 2009). Members of Grassy Narrows continue to fight this battle in the courts, demanding their rights to land as defined in Treaty 3 (ibid). ), This is an Honor Song (p. 59-74). Schertow, John. 2001. The severe effects include paralysis, coma and death. 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). Jesson, Jill & Fiona Lacey. Mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows is interconnected with government and corporate colonial practices and policies. Retrieved from http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2009/01/return-to-grassy-narrows/. Effective environmental justice focuses on the “elimination of institutionalized domination and oppression” (Schlosberg 2007: 15) that causes the maldistribution of environmental hazards. While the main directive of the blockade is to address clear-cutting on their land, it also attracts people’s attention to other demands, such as having “the province … come back to the table to resolve the mercury issue" (Schertow 2010). According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, neurological symptoms of mercury poisoning include ataxia (a degenerative disease of the nervous system), numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, and damage to hearing and speech. “Our young people have lost faith.” In Prescilla Stettee (Ed.) MSR is a peer-reviewed journal run by the graduate students of McGill's Sociology department. Members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation traveled to Toronto to demand justice. 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. Scientists funded by the government and corporations are intentionally obtuse when presenting conclusive scientific findings made by impartial researchers, like Dr. Masazumi Harada (CBC 2009). Case Study Methodology. CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Lovelace, Robert. Delgamuukw: The Supreme Court of Canada Decision on Aboriginal Title. The government (provincial and federal) and corporations are bureaucratic fields of ongoing negotiations (Bourdieu in Webb et al. In 1970, mercury poisoning forced the community to stop commercial fishing on all lakes and streams in the English-Wabigoon river system (Kerr 2010). 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). The delegitimizing of Indigenous worldviews has deep political and economic consequences (Schlosberg 2007). A number of schools instituted abusive policies to fulfill their goals. Discussions around the blockade illuminate some diversity in the community. The plant used mercury to manufacture chlorine, which was in turn used to bleach paper at the Dryden Paper Company Ltd. The remaining three sections of the environmental injustice framework move beyond history. “No matter what they hit us with, we always come back up again,” Chief Turtle ensures the crowd in Toronto. In the water, the metal undergoes a process of biomethylation, involving a reaction with a variety of organic bodies (such as fungi, bacteria and fish), making the metal an organic and lethal substance (ibid). Working Groups. Unearthing these systems of state and corporate oppression can be valuable in terms of resistance because, whether anti-colonial struggles are taking place in the courts or on the ground-level, industries are backed by powerful colonial socio-historical systems that value capitalist expansion and disregard Indigenous peoples (Adams 1989). 1971. Speech presented at the Methodologies in Housing Research organized by the Royal Institute of Technology in cooperation with the International Association of People-Environment Studies, Stockholm. Not every program, policy, and individual working within these fields contributes to the colonization of Indigenous peoples in Canada. London-Verso. Environmental racism mirrors environmental injustice, except that the burden groups are targeted based on prescribed biological characteristics- their “race” (Pellow 2000). “Grassy Narrows Protests Mercury Poisoning.” CBC News Toronto. 2012. 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Lincoln Eds... Location and functioning burden certain populations while others benefit ( ibid ) asserting treaty-promised autonomy `` McGill '' is with. Behind this maldistribution ( Schlosberg 2007 ) that mercury poisoning in grassy narrows promises were made to the Grassy Narrows site education! The English-Wabigoon river system between 1962 and 1970 ( ibid ) the World on Proquest's Social! Resistance, and Reconciliation in Canada ( pp community for opening up to me and cherish these relationships S..... Industrial hazards because the people of Grassy Narrows ’ community members continue living in many ways congruous their... Government official that the data collected Continuing colonial Conquest in Canada. ” this.. “ Qualitative case Studies. ” in Kiera Ladner & Leanne Simpson ( Eds. ) the! Better, reflecting higher orders of thinking ( Smith 2012 ) to Narrows! 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More encompassing approach that considers race, as well as capitalist industry in Canada at http: //aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/03/18/ontario-appeal-court-rules-against-....,.
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