The road from Kenora to Grassy Narrows twists and turns. Like the story of this First Nations reserve, it has precarious highs and rock bottom lows. Peter points out the spot where one CPT (Christian Peacemaker Team) delegation car left the road to go for a plunge in the lake.
The path across the rise and fall of pre-Cambrian shield through the boreal Whiskey Jack forest was walked long before the European settlers built roads. It was road building that prompted the relocation of the Grassy Narrows band. Their village, on Grassy Lake, was located where commercial interests indicated a roadway trumped indigenous claims.
The lure that attracted them to the pre-fabricated, side-by-side, 612 square foot houses was the offer of electricity, plumbing, and most of all, a school. An alternative to the Residential school was what sealed the deal.
They hadnât been there long before people started getting sick. It took years of protest before the Ontario and Federal governments acknowledged the problem. A trip to Minamata Japan in 1974 where industrial mercury poisoning had crippled villagers was what convinced the Grassy Narrows people they were suffering the same effects.