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Statement by Minister Zimmer on Grassy Narrows First Nation


Statement by Minister Zimmer on Grassy Narrows First Nation

Today, David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, issued the following statement about Grassy Narrows First Nation:

"I am here out of respect for Steve Fobister, a distinguished Elder of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, and out of concern for his health.

I was very happy for the opportunity to have dinner with Steve on Sunday. I heard his concerns about mercury contamination and public health at Grassy Narrows First Nation. His story is a very moving one.

We had a good and frank discussion and Steve asked me to tell him again today what I told him in person over dinner when I heard his story.

I want to begin by acknowledging the profound suffering of the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation, including Steve Fobister, as a result of the mercury contamination.

I showed him the letter that my fellow Ministers Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle and I sent last week to Chief Roger Fobister expressing our strong desire to work together with the Chief-and-Council and community. I told him about my visit to Grassy Narrows planned for August 6.

One way that my fellow Ministers and I will to work with Grassy Narrows First Nation is to champion a review of the Mercury Disability Board, to determine how best to help those with mercury-related health issues.

I will personally work to get the approval of the Wabaseemoong First Nation and the federal government to conduct such a review. They are the other parties to the Mercury Disability Board and they will need to agree to any reforms.

I made a specific commitment to Steve Fobister that this review will look at the level of the current benefits provided by the board.

I also heard how important he believes a treatment centre devoted to mercury-related illness would be in the Grassy Narrows community.

I agreed the government would explore the options for more on-site treatment for Grassy Narrows First Nation residents.

I am deeply concerned about Steve Fobister's health and hope that he finds reassurance in the Government of Ontario's commitment to working with his community."

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