Environmental Justice Struggles in Canada: Asubpeeschoseewagong (“Grassy Narrows”) First Nation

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The Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) First Nation is an Ojibwa First Nation located north of Kenora, ON. The community has been fighting against environmental injustices imposed on them from various actors over the last 40 years (Rodgers, 2009, para. 10), involving issues with mercury poisoned fish (para. 1) clear cutting of their lands (para. 27) and subsequent degradation of their land, water and food sources. This essay will detail the environmental justice struggles of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, point out the unfair treatment and environmental racism they have been subject to and will also question the role that authority, power and litigation have played within the community.

The Grassy Narrows people have a long, deeply rooted history in the environmental justices movement. Rodgers (2009) points to a number of environmental justice struggles such as the fight against the harmful effects of mercury poisoning and the Minamata disease associated with it (para. 1-3), the Ontario Hydro dams that destroyed part of the wild rice harvest and degraded the habitat of fish and fur animals, as well as the displacement of the community (due to relocation into prefabricated houses where electricity and running water were promised) and the culture shock it created (para. 4). He also discusses the successful blockade in 2002, which is the longest-lasting blockade in Canadian history (para. 28)—an example that shows how employing legal methods were critical in the struggle against environmental injustices for this community. There are a number of other issues that will be discussed in the following paragraphs; the above are just a few of the injustices the Grassy Narrows community face.

It is important to discuss environmental...

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