(Image Credit: ‘Minamata River’ by hyolee2, via Wikimedia Commons; the image is at this link. Used without modification under Creative Commons Licence)

Our federal government announced a Mercury Care Home for Grassy Narrows with much fanfare, but construction has not even begun years later. If your MP is Liberal, please use this template to write to them about this.


Between 1962 and 1970, a northern Ontario factory located upstream of Grassy Narrows on the English river released over 9,000 kilos of mercury into the river. This mercury made its way up the food chain and has poisoned the residents of Grassy Narrows for 3 generations. It is estimated that over 90% of these residents are impacted by mercury poisoning. Remedial action on this has been delayed for decades. This is at two levels, viz., federal and provincial.

The federal part of the required action is building a hospital to treat the people who have been poisoned by the mercury. The Trudeau government announced a plan in 2021 to build a Mercury Care Home with total funding of $87 million. As reported two days ago by CBC, the construction of this facility has not yet begun. In the meanwhile, the costs associated with the project have ballooned by (it appears) $60 million.

The provincial portion consists of removing the mercury from the English river and its tributary Wabigoon River. A funded plan for this was created in late 2017 – early 2018 by the government of Premier Kathleen Wynne, setting aside $85 million in a trust account with BMO. From the latest information available (till March 31, 2022), the work of removing the mercury from these rivers had not begun after more than 4 years, but approximately $30 million from the trust account had been spent.

As many of you know, I have been following up with both the federal and provincial governments about the status of these projects. Last year, I learned that the construction of the Mercury Care Home, which was supposed to have begun in the Spring of 2022, had been delayed and the new timeframe for commencement of construction was Spring 2023. Now, the report by CBC has revealed that the project implementation has not even begun. Upon hearing about this, I wrote an email today to my Liberal MP. I consider it the shared duty of all Canadians to get justice for the people of Grassy Narrows. I would be grateful if you could use the template of my email to my MP (given below) to write to your MP, so that we can exert pressure on the government to uphold its promise to the long-suffering people of Grassy Narrows.


[Template begins]

I was disappointed to see a report by CBC on June 20, to the effect that the construction of this facility (Mercury Care Home at Grassy Narrows) has yet to begin, three years after it was initially announced (Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/grassy-narrows-delays-mercury-care-home-1.6882699?fbclid=IwAR1y355zBUY7DGZ7PA2Ii1LY1ZiWq4CEbM9fDaknreKUSz887qrILZqHEZE ).

From the information that you had conveyed to me last year, my inference was that the Grassy Narrows community was in charge of implementing this project. However, in the CBC report, Chief Turtle lays the blame squarely on your government, and none of the quotes attributed to Minister Hajdu refute this. Regardless of any argument on this aspect, the fact remains that your party is in government, and has been since the inception of this plan. Your government must , therefore, wear  this failure.

The issue of Reconciliation with the Indigenous people is highly important to a lot of Canadians, myself included. Unfortunately, all that we have seen from your government regarding Reconciliation is lofty talk; concrete action is conspicuous by its absence. In the meantime, Prime Minister Trudeau, various Ministers in the cabinet and your government in general are constantly guilt-tripping Canadians about the many plights of Indigenous people. Most Canadians cannot do much – if they can do anything at all – to resolve these problems. Indeed, many of these problems were caused by the governments of the day, and it is certainly the obligation of the current government to resolve all of them. But as the CBC report reminds us, your government is incapable of even getting started on a project of such vital nature; it would be too much to expect it to see the project to completion.

As a Canadian, I am in a quandary. The injustices that were dealt to Indigenous people are a stain on Canada’s character – and by extension, a blot on my soul as a Canadian. I want this stain to be cleansed. But your government, with all the required authority and resources at its disposal, is not interested in the exercise beyond paying lip service to it. It seems to me that Indigenous people and their issues are important to you only insofar as they help you get elected. This is certainly a let-down from the heady atmosphere of ‘Sunny days’ in 2015.

I am not a single-issue voter by any stretch, but having said that, there ARE issues that serve as a litmus test for a government’s *real* commitment to the welfare of all Canadians. For me, the Grassy Narrows issue is one such litmus test, and therefore, it will guide my decision on how I vote in the next election. It is entirely up to you and your government to earn my vote – or decide that my vote is not important to you.

[Template ends]


It is worth pointing out that the link to the CBC report was forwarded to me by a friend who is firmly in the Liberal camp, and who is a first-generation immigrant. This friend knows about my interest in the issue of mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows, so when he saw the CBC report, he wanted to ensure that I see it, instead of leaving it to chance.

I mention this specifically because quite often, tribal loyalties get in the way of sharing negative facts about one’s ‘side’. As my friend demonstrated, we can rise above party affiliation if we want. There are matters where the political divisions are irrelevant. People’s lives being endangered is certainly one such matter. If we present a united front, we can get the government to deliver on its promises. Thank you for adding your voice in this critical issue.


Independent voices are more important than ever in today’s Canada. I am happy to add my voice to the public discussions on current issues & policy, and grateful for all the encouraging response from my listeners & readers. I do not believe in a Paywall model, so will not make access to my content subject to a payment.

To help me bring more content to you, please consider donating a small amount via this PayPal link on my website: https://darshanmaharaja.ca/donate/