Grassy Narrows unveils mercury treatment centre design but wonders whether government is committed to building it

Grassy narrows unveiled its plan for the Mercury Survivors Home and Care Centre to care or those suffering from mercury poisoning.

Bret Cardinal of BD Cardinal & Associates designed the facility.

“Our philosophy is you design from the inside out. So you take care of the people first then you design the facility around that,” said Cardinal.

“The core of the principles and the core of the design should always be beautiful and it should be understood from culture.”

They wanted the centre to have a strong connection to the land, water and First Nations traditional symbols and get away from the sterile box concept of most medical centres.

The site is on a hill and all rooms will have view of the lake with plenty of sunlight. There will also be a small dock with direct access to the water.

(The concept for the mercury treatment centre in Grassy Narrows)

In December 2018, former minister of Indigenous services, Jane Philpott committed to advancing the construction of the care centre.

Construction was set to begin in September 2019 but that date has yet to be confirmed by the federal government.

Only one per cent of the funding promised has been released so far.

Grassy Narrows is asking for $88.7 million be put into a trust to cover construction and maintenance costs over the next 30 years.

Current minister of Indigenous Affairs visited Grassy Narrows in March to sign an agreement with the community to build the Care Centre but no agreement was signed. And no timeline has been given for the next phase of design or construction.

“Minister Seamus O’Regan came to Grassy Narrows but he came to Grassy Narrows offering an assisted living home, that’s not what we’re asking for,” said Chief Rudy Turtle. “We’re asking for a Mercury Home. In addition he offered other things that were not satisfactory.

“You got to do better than that. So right now we’re very disappointed with the government of Canada.”

Meanwhile, community members continue to suffer.

Grassy Narrows resident, Chrissy Isaacs was born with mercury in her blood and continues to advocate for a treatment centre in the community.

“It’s really difficult for families to have to travel for appointments, to have to travel to be beside their loved ones that are in need of care,” said Isaacs.

“Also because our people need different kind of health care because Canada right now does not recognize that Grassy people are sick from mercury and we need this facility so we can take care of our people.”

The community is not happy with any of the federal government’s offers and would like the government to deliver the funding as promised before the election this fall.

Turtle said he’s still encouraging the prime minister to visit his community and meet the people who this facility would serve.

“For him (Trudeau) to go and attend the Raptors championship game, I mean championship parade. A couple days ago he was sitting in front of a stage and he took time off for that. And yet he won’t take any time at all to come and stand in Grassy Narrows and that’s wrong,” said Turtle. “Here is a place that’s been suffering 50 years, suffering from mercury contamination and yet he won’t even come visit our reserve.

“I have called upon again and again for him to come and see us.”



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