Indigenous Communities from Northern Ontario Bring Their Voices to Toronto

By Tim Groves writing for the The Media Co-Op, a project of The Dominion News Cooperative.

River Run Rally Brings Legacy of Poisoned Water to Queen’s Park

“This is what killed us”; said Betty Riffel, as she held up a bottle of water in her shaking hand.

Her community of Wabauskang is one of several that were poisoned by the mercury that was put in to the Wabigoon River by a paper mill that was built in 1911. Nearly 100 years later a report was recently released that says the communities of Wabauskang, Asubpeeschoseewagong (commonly known as Grassy Narrows) and Wabeseemoong (commonly known as White Dog) are still suffering from mercury poisoning.

Route from Grassy Narrows to Toronto

On Wednesday April 7th, the issue around water these communities have been facing were voiced in the streets of Toronto by the River Run Rally. A march of over 250 people from Grange Park to the steps of the Ontario Legislature, in a cascade of giant 30 foot banners in different shades of blue. Throughout this “river” many of those in the march wore blue clothes, and some held up cardboard fish. The march was led by four women from Grassy Narrows and Wabauskang, who were being pushed in wheelchairs, including Betty Riddel. The vibrant rally ended with speeches at Queens Park.

“Since we lost so many of our people, we want the government to recognize us, that we are people too” Riffel told the Toronto Media Co-op, “In Walkerton people got help, but what about us? Its like they are saying: ‘It’s just one more dead Indian, it doesn’t matter’.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s office has not yet responded to a request to comment on this story.


Posted on April 9, 2010, in Ecological Struggles, Indigenous Struggles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Indigenous Communities from Northern Ontario Bring Their Voices to Toronto.

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