First Nations youth walk from Kenora to Toronto
Youth aim to raise awareness about mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows First Nation
Six young people are making a 2,000 kilometre trek, on foot, from north of Kenora to Toronto to raise awareness about the legacy of mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows First Nation.
"As a young person I want to focus (on) the younger crowd ... and hope that one day they'll do something too, to keep the message going," said one of the walkers, seventeen-year-old Edmond Jack during a stop-over in Thunder Bay on Tuesday.
The pulp mill in Dryden dumped the toxins into the Wabigoon River decades ago.
Jack said elders at Grassy Narrows still show symptoms of mercury poisoning.
"They're shaky ... you talk to them, they'll look around and they have to look right at you to see you," he said. "It's like ... they're almost blind."
'Gave me hope'
Jack wants to be part of Grassy Narrows' campaign for environmental monitoring in the community.
"[Be]cause it seems like ... there [are] young people these days who don't really care about it."
Jack's grandmother, Maryanne Swain, is driving the support van carrying the walkers' gear.
She said she's proud of what they're doing.
"It kind of gave me hope ... that the youth are getting serious about the issues that are happening today," she said.
The walkers plan to reach Toronto by June 4th. At that time they'll join other advocates at a rally to call on the provincial government to protect their water.