Star Investigation: A Poisoned People – by David Bruser and Jayme Poisson (Toronto Star – July 24, 2016)

https://www.thestar.com/

The steady drip of the neurotoxin mercury has percolated through river sediment, the food chain and generations of Grassy Narrows First Nations residents for more than four decades, killing a community’s livelihood and then contaminating its people.

GRASSY NARROWS FIRST NATION—For more than 40 years the mercury has percolated through river sediment, the food chain and generations of residents. From 100 kilometres upstream, the slow, steady drip of the neurotoxin first killed a community’s livelihood and then contaminated its people.

A disability board — set up by government officials in the mid-1980s to compensate those who can show doctors they suffer symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning — has approved claims from more than 300 applicants who suffer from tremors, loss of muscle co-ordination, slurred speech and tunnel vision. One of them was Marlin Kokopenace’s 17-year-old son, Calvin.

“(Calvin) was pretty frail. When he passed on he practically had no muscle,” Marlin Kokopenace said, adding: “Me, I lose my balance at times. When I’m walking, sometimes I feel like I sidestep . . . (And) I get tremors, sometimes, in my hands.”

His father said Calvin never crawled as a baby, did not walk until age three, had poor balance and symptoms of autism, and that the compensation board found he had mercury poisoning symptoms. Calvin also suffered from muscular dystrophy, and complications of the degenerative condition caused his death in November 2014. Marlin believes mercury contributed to the disease.

“But never did I ever think that I was going to lose a second child to this.” In April of this year, Calvin’s 14-year-old sister, Azraya, died in the woods near Kenora. “She took her own life, apparently,” Marlin said. “After my son died . . . she went through severe depression.”

For the rest of this article, click here: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/07/24/disability-board-approves-mercury-poisoning-claims-from-grassy-narrows-first-nation.html

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