The youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation are demanding the Canadian government keep its promises to finally address the mercury crisis in their community. Because of government inaction for 50 years, generations of young Indigenous people have grown up with devastating health problems and the loss of their cultural traditions like fishing and time on the land.
To help amplify their urgent call, the youth-led campaign for mercury justice was one of the focal cases of last month’s global Write for Rights campaign, marking the beginning of a year-long campaign to mobilize Amnesty members and supporters in Canada and around the world. Grassy Narrows youth were one of ten global cases focused on young human rights defenders leading the charge for change in their communities.
Highlights from the Write for Rights 2019 campaign:
We launched the campaign with a press conference in Winnipeg on November 4, 2019, featuring Grassy youth Paris Meekis, Darwin Fobister, and RJ Bruce. You can check out the incredible coverage of the event via APTN, CTV, CBC, the Winnipeg Sun, and the Winnipeg Free Press.
Today youth from Grassy Narrows First Nation officially launched Write for Rights with a press conference at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The northerwestern Anishinaabe Ontario community the youth come from has been exposed to mercury poisoning for 50 years. The community’s vital waterways are still contaminated, and people are still living with the aftermath, including health problems, loss of jobs and the erosion of their cultural traditions. You can show your solidarity with these young people by joining Write for Rights on December 10th. Click on the link in the bio to find out more and register. . . . #FreeGrassy #W4R19 #write4rights #IndigenousRights #GrassyNarrows
After the press conference we heard many messages of hope and excitement from young people and community members from Grassy Narrows. “We are joining hands around the world to combat all the injustice,” said Crystal Swain, writing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she and her daughter Hazel Sneaky, participated in Amnesty Brazil’s Write for Rights launch, meeting activists and land and water defenders from Brazil and Paraguay.
The fight for justice for Grassy Narrows has gone global! Crystal Swain and Hazel Sneaky from Grassy Narrows First Nation are in Brazil with @anistiabrasil for Write for Rights to share the story of their community’s 50+ year fight for justice after mercury poisoning. Support their call for Mercury Justice by signing up to Write for Rights [link in bio]. . . . #w4r2019 #mercuryjustice #freegrassy #grassynarrows
Throughout the campaign, Amnesty supporters across Canada and around the world have been sharing their support for Grassy Narrows youth, with many of the 360 events happening in Canada alone dedicated to raising awareness about the Anishinaabe community’s fight for mercury justice.
So proud of my class and their letters for #HumanRights. Our class letter in support of the youth in #GrassyNarrowsFN fighting for from mercury poisoning is on it’s way to @JustinTrudeau. These are our #SolidarityWalleye for #FreeGrassy. #W4R19 #kpdsbpride pic.twitter.com/nTtoOotPjQ
— Shannon Elliott (@mselliottKPDSB) December 13, 2019
Mailed off dozens of #SolidarityWalleye yesterday in support of the youth of Grassy Narrows. Coloured by gr. 6 students visiting Algoma U, and AIAI Health & Wellness conference participants… and me.
— Joanne Robertson (@miskoanungokwe) December 18, 2019
We’ve been seeing so many beautiful #SolidarityWalleye submitted by school groups, community groups, and individuals, including Ottawa-based Inuk artist, Sabrina Taqtu Montague, who unveiled a stunning #SolidarityWalleye banner on World Children’s Day, November 20th.
To mark #WorldChildrensDay Ottawa-based Inuk artist @taqtu_ painted a beautiful banner of walleye fish, a staple food in Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, in solidarity with the youth who are demanding government action. #FreeGrassyNarrows #SolidarityWalleye #WriteforRights
Watch for updates on Write for Rights and the next steps for supporting the people of Grassy Narrows in early 2020. Meanwhile, thank you so much to everyone who has organized events, written letters, shared solidarity messages, tweeted and more in support of the courageous youth of Grassy Narrows!