Grassy Narrows hopes to break ground on mercury treatment centre in spring, 2019

Grassy Narrows hopes to break ground on mercury treatment centre in spring, 2019

Officials in Grassy Narrows First Nation say they hope to break ground on a specialized treatment centre for people suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning next spring.

Japanese researchers have found that 90 per cent of the populations of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations shows signs of poisoning. Additionally, a peer-reviewed study released earlier this year found Grassy Narrows residents to be in considerably poorer health than other First Nations in Ontario and that those findings “cannot be understood without taking into account their history of mercury poisoning.”

The federal government has committed to funding a treatment centre and recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the House Of Commons that the government is “actively engaged with the community to move them forward.”

Jane Philpott, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services also told reporters on Parliament Hill that they’re “very shortly expecting the finalized plans on that treatment centre.”

Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle confirmed that, saying that conceptual plans for the facility are completed and will be sent to federal officials “soon.”

Rudy Turtle is the chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation. (Supplied)

The plans are “for the building itself … the facility and the rooms that patients will be staying at,” he said. “Almost like a medical centre, with people living there.”

“They’ll have access to medical help when they need it and there’s going to be workers going in there, checking [on them],” Turtle continued. “For example, there’s going to be PSWs helping people with their medications.”

The community hopes to do a ground-breaking in the spring of 2019, Turtle said.

“I feel like we’re making progress, we’re just hoping that the feds will keep their promise and that everything will be ready to go, possibly, by next fall,” he said.

“It’s a much-needed facility.”

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