Civil Disobedience

Six Activists Dump Sludge in Front of Ontario Legislature to Protest Mercury Poisoning

Activists from created a chemical dump on June 23 at the front steps of Queens Park in Toronto to call on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to clean up the mercury poison in Grassy Narrows river. Credit: Allan Listener,

Six protestors were arrested and charged with mischief on June 23 after they dumped four barrels of grey liquid in front of the Ontario Legislature as a protest against the lack of action on mercury poisoning on Grassy Narrows First Nation.

According to the Canadian Press, the barrels had the phrase “mercury kills” and skull-and-crossbones symbols on their sides.

In a perfect act of irony, firefighters secured the scene and attempted to figure out what the substance was (cornstarch, water, and soluble paint, according to the CBC) as the police corralled people for safety. This response played perfectly into the protestors’ aim, which was to point out the exceptionally long time – some 50 years – it’s taken for the provincial government to clean up mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows following a pulp mill’s dumping liquid waste into its watershed.

Four days after the action, the Ontario government committed to spending $300,000 to test mercury levels in the river systems at Grassy Narrows.

Issue 43

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 43, Fall 2016, The Collectivity Issue.

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Issue 43, Fall 2016

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