ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Thoughts on the children of Grassy Narrows First Nation to commemorate Universal Children’s Day


5 December 2014

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Thoughts on the children of Grassy Narrows First Nation to
commemorate Universal Children’s Day

 by Judy Da Silva

Judy Da Silva, Slant Lake Blockade, 
Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) 
October 2011

Grassy Narrows Clan Mother, and long-time partner of CPT’s
Aboriginal Justice Team (AJT), Judy Da Silva wrote the following for United
Nations Universal Children’s Day ( 20 November 2014.) 

In Grassy Narrows, we have children and youth that outnumber
the adults in our total on-reserve population of 800 people. 

These children and youth are true survivors as they inherit
the legacy of a land devoured by consumerism, namely from the logging
industry.  This industry is also what dumped 9,000 kgs of mercury into the
English/Wabigoon river system, effectively poisoning water that is supposed to
be life-giving and is now life-taking.  

I will say to the readers that not all of the children in
Grassy Narrows are disabled, but with each year, there are more children and
youth born with health problems. 

The very sad part about all this is with our continuous,
untiring effort to get justice, there is nothing that will solve this loss of
health and good life for these children and youth.  We are at the front of the big mouth of consumerism and
there is no humanity or compassion for these children and youth. 

After many protests, Weyerhaeuser [Timber Company] boycotts,
rallies, awareness pickets, and information tours since 1975, we are still
in the legacy of our children and youth being poisoned.  The river is
still flowing with its mercury-laden sediment.  We watch as our
children inherit illnesses labeled as diseases that they cannot effectively
treat in hospitals.  We know this is because of mercury poisoning. 

An example I will give is of a five year old child that
cannot talk.  The many medical doctors that have seen and assessed her
cannot figure out how she can be so smart and yet not form words.  She is
not the only one with this mysterious ailment.  Speech therapy does not
help these children. 

In closing, with this National Day of the Child, we seek
justice for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and we call
on Article 24 on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

The river needs to be cleaned up to stop this unlawful,
relentless poisoning of innocent Anishinabe children at Grassy Narrows. 

CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team has been in partnership with
the people of Grassy Narrows since 1999, as they have stood up against clear
cuts of the forest on Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory and repeatedly
called on the government to take accountability for the mercury poisoning of their

AJT leads regular 10-day-long delegations to Grassy Narrows
and Kenora, Ontario, and encourages anyone interested in learning about these
issues first hand to join us.  Our
delegation dates for 2015 are: 14 – 22 February (special students-only
delegation), 1 – 11 May, 14 – 24 August, and 25 September – 5 October. 

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