OTTAWA – First Nations who taught North American settlers how to survive from the bounty of the land, as immortalized in the story of the first Thanksgiving, would be horrified to see the struggle of communities like Grassy Narrows where the fish have been poisoned by mercury, according to Carol Hughes.

Hughes, the NDP Aboriginal Health Critic, asked the government how they intend to make certain that no additional mercury enters the English River system now that the province has indicated they intend to allow Weyerhaeuser to begin logging on Grassy Narrows territory. This comes on the heels of recent reports that indicate clear-cut logging contributes to mercury contamination.

“The problem is made even worse by clear-cutting in the region, which can raise mercury levels in rivers and fish, said Hughes. “(N)ow, Weyerhaeuser is not respecting Grassy Narrows’ moratorium on logging. “

Grassy Narrows is home to the longest running logging blockade in Canadian history. Three major logging corporations have listened to the will of Grassy Narrows and committed not to log against the wishes of the community. Weyerhaeuser has no intention of listening to the wishes of the community and are set to proceed with 17 clear-cuts that will be more than 260 hectares in size.

“Health Canada has ignored repeated calls to test the fish in the English River system for these dangerous pollutants,” said Hughes. “Can the Minister reassure people that there’s no chance that their Thanksgiving dinners are coming with a side-order of mercury?”

Grassy Narrows Chief, Simon Fobister, is calling for a boycott of Weyerhaeuser, stating the pulp and paper giant has no consent to operate on their territory, an activity that has a severe impact on the community’s ability to sustain its health, culture, and livelihood.