Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden among authors calling for cleanup of mercury in northern Ontario

Sixty Canadian authors are pledging their support for a northern Ontario First Nation with a long-standing environmental concern.

The river that flows through Grassy Narrows First Nation was contaminated by mercury from a paper mill upstream in Dryden, Ont., in the 1960s and ’70s. The mercury has never been cleaned up.

This week, Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Lawrence Hill, Jane Urquhart and many others signed on to a David Suzuki Foundation campaign pressing the Ontario government to respond to the First Nations’ calls to remediate the river.

“I am deeply moved that these Canadian writers stand with Grassy Narrows, to see that the right thing is done,” said Vincent Lam. “It is time for this mess to be cleaned up.”

A government-funded report released in May and written by three experts in mercury contamination said it is feasible to clean up the river.

In June, Ontario committed to spending $300,000 to test mercury levels in fish and in the sediment in the river system.

Meanwhile, new research by Japanese scientists shows that up to 90 per cent of the population at Grassy Narrows demonstrates signs of mercury poisoning.

Yann Martel, Alice Kuipers feet

‘Alice Kuipers and I #standwithgrassy. Here are our feet,’ author Yann Martel posted on Facebook. (Yann Martel/Facebook)

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