Through this process of internal colonialism, “[which involves] the colonizing power quite literally swallow[ing] up contiguous areas and peoples, incorporating them directly into itself” (Churchill 1999: 25), Indigenous peoples were dispossessed from their lands and rights to self-determination. Dryden is located about 130 km upstream from Grassy Narrows. Just as environmental injustice cannot be understood without the broader socio-historical processes that cause it, the same goes for the struggle towards justice. “And, no matter what they hit us with in the future, we will come back up again. The staple protein for many within the community is fish (da Silva 2008). Fish, their main source of food, contained extremely high levels of mercury from toxic dumping by the Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill upstream (Kraus 2013). Capitalism and industrialization “systematically subordinate nature in pursuit of endless accumulation and production on ever larger scales” (Clausen & Clark 2005: 423). 2011. Retrieved from Asubpeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek. 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. In the 1940’s, the Ontario government significantly intensified its efforts to control Grassy Narrow’s land and resources (Vecsey 1987). There were cases where Federal officials who “under-counted the number of people in a band in order to reduce the size of the reserve allotment; in other cases they did not bother to include individuals who were away from the community at the time of the count” (ibid). Retrieved from Persky, Stan. Penticton, BC: Theytus Books Ltd. Adamson, Joni. It must “be a complex functioning unit, be investigated in its natural context with a multitude of methods, and be contemporary” (ibid). “Grassy Narrows Youth Gathering.” Support Grassy Narrows First Nations (Website run by solidarity activists and Grassy Narrows organizers). Understanding the socio-historical processes of environmental hazard distribution provides “explanation” rather than “description” of the problem (ibid). Misrecognition directly links to the decline in participation with decision making processes. The Ontario government insisted that the poisonous fish were safe to eat, while the community increasingly showed signs of mercury poisoning (Vecsey 1987). Finally, many Indigenous groups see treaties as “fluid and living documents that need to be changed and reinterpreted with changing times and social standards” (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007: 37). Environmental Sociology (2nd Edition). The decision was made to provide ongoing smaller payments like in the numbered treaties (ibid). Initially, it protected Indigenous lands because success of the fur trade relied on having large amounts of undisturbed lands for hunting space (Satzewich & Liodakis 2007). 2010a. In 2002, the community set up a blockade on the main logging road to physically prevent logging trucks to enter their territory. Bacteria are eaten by crustaceans that are eaten by fish, concentrating the mercury further up the food chain because it is not broken down in digestion (ibid). New York: Motor City Books. Ali, Harris. They are diverse and maintain varying perspectives, ideologies, and practices. 28 Sept 2012). Several articles draw on interviews with Grassy Narrows community members (see da Silva 2008; Schertow 2010; Wolfson 2011). Retrieved from 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. Stake, Robert E. 2008. 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. 2012, January 30. San Francisco: City Lights Books. “Today, in 2019, the life expectancy of our people is low,” said Chrissy Isaacs, a Grassy Narrows community member and proud activist, in an interview following her community’s march through Toronto. Between 1962 and 1970 a Dryden, Ont., pulp and paper plant dumped 10 tonnes of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, in the English-Wabigoon River. 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. Environmental injustice here is defined by four factors: the distributional patterns of environmental hazards, the historical processes which determine hazard distributions (Schlosberg 2007; Ali 2009), patterns of non-recognition (Fraser & Honneth 1998), and unequal access to decision making. 2008. Cultures exist as continuous networks of interactions and negotiations, and are constantly shifting and adapting (Woolford 2009). For this reason, “land and environment are not simply means of sustaining group life, but as key components of group life” (ibid: 89). New York: Tenth Impression. 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. My ears keep ringing all the time; it really makes me sad,” said Grassy Narrows elder Raphael Fobister at a march in Toronto. Struggle for Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide, and Colonization. Thus, in many reserve communities in western Canada, a ‘treaty day’ is still held at which a five-dollar payment is made to each band member”. Grassy Narrows secured a $19.5-million agreement to build an on-reserve mercury poisoning care home, but they still seek over $60 million to operate it. Blaikie, Tessa. I organize my arguments within each of the four factors of environmental injustice: historical processes, distribution of environmental hazards, misrecognition, and procedural injustice. 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. DVD. Canada, 2019. This case is contemporary because the issues are ongoing concerns for 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). 1975. These are not just issues of the past. To gain perspective from community members themselves, I also survey personal accounts of community members made publicly through articles and videos. 2012. Autoethnographic research involves describing and analyzing “personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al. John Rawls first defined justice as “the distribution of goods in a society” (Rawls 1971). While some value direct action on the ground, others feel the court-system is a better avenue for protecting their land (ibid). 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). These observations are my interpretations of teachings and stories I hear, as well as actions and interactions I either observed or participated in. Benefits include access to resources, opportunities (such as employment), and freedoms to make desirable choices. “Aboriginal fisheries policy in Atlantic Canada.” Marine Policy 27: 417-24. Weyerhauser and Abitibi gave departmental run-arounds and any solutions discussed were in line with Ministry of Natural Resources’ rather than Anishinaabe ideologies (Blaikie 2012). "My parents had mercury poisoning — they died. Vancouver: Greystone Books. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System 1879 to 1986. 2013. 2013. Satzewich and Liodakis (2007) point out that, “even though reserve lands were supposed to be provided to Indigenous peoples in perpetuity, on many occasions Indian people were coerced or tricked into giving up portions of their reserve land” (p. 39). Similarly, if the companies respected Anishinaabe worldviews, it seems unlikely they would continue dumping poison into their environment. Archived at CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Vast lands were appropriated from Indigenous cultures and only the smallest sections of land were “gifted back” to them (Smith 2012). Archived at CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). My interest in Grassy Narrows stems from my personal involvement with the community starting in September 2012 when I attended an ally learning delegation organized by Tessa Blaikie. 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. Literature Review: Environmental Injustice, Colonialism, and Grassy Narrows. I attended a feast to celebrate the ending of a new moon fast for the welcoming of spring 2013 and continue to attend ceremonies and celebrations, spend time at their blockade site, and will soon be attending a Youth Gathering in the community. “Speaking for Ourselves, Speaking Together: Environmental Justice in Canada.” In Julian Agyeman, Peter Cole, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, and Pat O’Riley (Eds.) Relying on non-Indigenous perspectives to discuss Indigenous experiences is historically a colonial approach to conducting research (Smith 2012). Retrieved from Isuma TV: “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. 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). There is ongoing mercury poisoning in the water from Weyerhauser logging company’s clear-cutting and dumping of cancer-causing toxic waste (ibid). As pressure for the settlement of Western Canada grew, the government’s treaty-making strategy changed (ibid). Environmental injustice is a more encompassing approach that considers race, as well as many other factors. Important to note, Grassy Narrows is not a homogenous group of one mind. While visiting the blockade on September 28, 2012, I learned about its role of resistance in Grassy Narrows Anishinaabe culture. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing. Judy da Silva demonstrates her support for action over stagnation at a Defenders of the Land meeting: Hopefully from this meeting today they will come up with a powerful action plan and not just paper and not just another conference and not just another meeting. Other key examples are the Tar Sands in Alberta (Caine 2012), Uranium mining in Saskatchewan and Ontario (Lovelace 2009), and potentially Hydro’s BiPole 3. The government controlled Indigenous access to capital, technology, and other resources necessary for self-determination (Bolaria & Li 1988). ), Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada (pp. Understanding Grassy Narrows mercury poisoning within broader historical processes of capitalism and colonialism. Today the community struggles to be dry and participate in traditional activities like trapping, rice harvesting, and hunting as much as possible (p.o. 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). Mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows is interconnected with government and corporate colonial practices and policies. 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. Speaking for Ourselves. Racial Oppression in Canada (2nd ed.). In resistance movements, raising public awareness is always paramount (Starhawk 2011). The new space was not consistent with their cultural lifestyles (Rodgers 2009). 2007. As a result, community members’ health continues to suffer. 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