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."