Latest News

Toxic dirt dumped in Ontario’s prime farmland

The Star 


With lax rules and no tracking system, Ontario sits idly while Toronto’s contaminated dirt is dumped in the countryside.

Toronto’s construction boom is unearthing massive volumes of soil contaminated with dangerous heavy metals and petroleum, but it’s nearly impossible to know where the dirt is going because Ontario doesn’t track it.

Instead, thousands of tonnes of toxic earth taken to prime farmland from downtown condominium projects are usually discovered accidentally — by neighbours who report bad odours from soil that is supposed to be “clean.”

Long-term, experts warn of contamination of agricultural land and groundwater, often in the Greenbelt or Oak Ridges Moraine.


Now, groups like Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water, Earthroots and Save the Oak Ridges Moraine are demanding the tough regulations of a “clean soil act.” They’re seeking rigorous laws that include soil tracking, a definition for “clean” dirt and rules to govern where contaminants are taken.

“The GTA is surrounded by the best farming land and drinking water sources and we will be polluting it for generations if the government continues to turn a blind eye to this problem,” said Earthroots’ Josh Garfinkel.

Click here to read the full article.

Watch a piece on Global News here.


The Dirt on Dirt

Contact Josh Garfinkel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 416-599-0152 x15 for more info.

Celebrate the Marvellous Moraine!



Order your tickets here!

Report on mercury poisoning never shared, Grassy Narrows leaders say

Province says it did share the 2010 report. Others say it wasn’t shared because it supports Grassy Narrows’ claim that Ontario is negligent in caring for mercury poisoning survivors.

By: Tanya Talaga Staff Reporter, The Star. Published on Mon Jul 28 2014


The people living in a northern Ontario community near where a toxic dump of 10 tonnes of mercury occurred five decades ago are still suffering the neurological effects of mercury poisoning, and a report about the effects of the poisoning was never made public, First Nations leaders say.

For years, the residents of Grassy Narrows First Nation, a community of 1,500 outside Kenora, have complained about symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning after a paper mill dumped the mercury into the Wabigoon-English River system between 1962 and 1970.

A 2010 report, entitled “Literature Review: The Impact of Mercury Poisoning on Human Health,” was commissioned by the Mercury Disability Board, yet kept hidden from those involved, claims Roger Fobister Sr., chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation.

To read the full article, click here.

Stephen Lewis Speaks With Grassy Narrows

Water, Indigenous rights, justice for mercury survivors.

July 29th, 6:30 - 8:30 PM, Ryerson University


• Grassy Narrows Chief Roger Fobister

• Judy Da Silva - Grassy Narrows Clan Mother

• Leanne Betasamosake Simpson - Writer, educator and activist 

• Stephen Lewis  


Parties missing link between environment and economy, survey shows



Toronto, ON – The health of our environment underlies many of the concerns being debated in the Ontario provincial election, from future job growth to health care throughout our province. 

But no major party has fully embraced the connection between a healthy environment, a healthy economy and healthy people, according to a survey of party positions undertaken by 20 of Ontario’s leading environmental non-profit organizations.

“From the alarming decline in pollinators to the uncoordinated rush to develop numerous mines and other resource projects in one of our last great wilderness areas, there are big issues at stake in this election,” says Tim Gray of  Environmental Defence.


Green Prosperity Coalition: Ontario Election 2014

Green Prosperity is a joint effort by 20 of Ontario’s leading environmental organizations to put forward an action agenda for the province that we believe will help make Ontario a world leader in the new green economy.


Looking for info about your local candidates? Check out the Elections Ontario website here.


In Memory of Farley Mowat, 1921 - 2014

Farley Mowat dead at 92

Award-winning author was also a noted environmentalist

CBC News

Farley Mowat, one of Canada's best-known authors and a noted environmentalist, has died at age 92. 

Mary Shaw-Rimmington, the author's assistant, confirmed his passing to CBC News on Wednesday afternoon. Mowat died at his home in Port Hope, Ont.

  • Author and environmentalist Farley Mowat has died at age 92. He poses here during the filming of the 1989 CBC documentary Sea of Slaughter, based on Mowat’s book of the same name, which describes the wasteful destruction of wildlife on Canada’s east coast. 

Mowat, author of dozens of works including Lost in the Barrens and Never Cry Wolf, introduced Canada to readers around the world and shared everything from his time abroad during the Second World War, to his travels in the North and his concern for the deteriorating environment.

See the full article (which includes video and audio clips) on CBC.

MNR Will Not Force Logging in Grassy Narrows Territory This Year



Toronto - Under intense pressure Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti has reversed his position on logging in Grassy Narrows Territory this year. A logging plan made final by the MNR on December 23rd showed large clearcuts throughout Grassy Narrows Territory scheduled to take effect on April 1st. The Minister now says that no clearcutting will happen this year on a huge area 18 times the size of the City of Toronto (11,304 sq km). The decision comes on the heals of boycotts, a request for environmental assessment from Grassy Narrows, and calls for renewed blockades by Regional Chief Beardy and the Grassy Narrows Youth Group.

In a written statement sent to media on March 26th, Minister Orazietti stated that “no harvesting activity is planned within 60km of Narrows First Nation until at least April 1, 2015.”

This is a complete reversal of his ministry's recent position on this contentious issue.

On February 3rd the CBC reported that "the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed to CBC by e-mail on January 31st that clear-cut logging would start on April 1st" in Grassy Narrows Territory south of the English River – the half of the Territory closest to the community site which is not subject to Grassy Narrows' Supreme Court case scheduled for May 15th.


Major lumber company vows to avoid Grassy Narrows conflict wood



Toronto - EACOM Timber Corporation has committed not to use conflict wood from Grassy Narrows First Nation Territory, home of Canada's longest running Indigenous logging blockade. The promise comes just one week before Ontario's contentious new ten-year clearcut logging plan for Grassy Narrows Territory in the Whiskey Jack Forest is scheduled to take effect. Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy has called for immediate blockades if logging resumes under the plan.

"To hear a huge logging company commit not to use trees from our territory is such good news in our struggle to protect the forest and to keep our culture alive." said Judy Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows mother of five, clan mother, and blockader. "I am hoping that Weyerhaeuser Corp. will do the same and listen when we say 'no' to logging.  This is for the good of all future generations who need clean water and air."

Grassy Narrows First Nation has rejected Ontario's new Whiskey Jack Forest Management Plan, which plans for a decade of clearcut logging throughout their Territory, on the basis that it does not respect their rights and is damaging to their environment. The final plan was posted online by the Ministry of Natural Resources on December 23, 2013, and is scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2014.

EACOM owns 10 mills in Canada, with six sawmills in Ontario, including the large Ear Falls sawmill which is located in close proximity to Grassy Narrows Territory in Northwestern Ontario. This commitment leaves Weyerhaeuser and Kenora Forest Products isolated as the only large regional forest products companies who have not committed publicly to avoid Grassy Narrows conflict wood.

The commitment was made in a letter to environmental group Earthroots sent Monday afternoon. In the letter Keith Ley, EACOM Manager of Forest Planning and Environment, states that "EACOM will not knowingly source wood fiber from the self-declared traditional territory of the Grassy Narrows First Nation on the basis of the ongoing dispute and efforts at resolution."


Grassy Narrows First Nation greets Ontario lumber firm’s decision

, The Star

EACOM Timber Corp., one of Ontario's biggest lumber companies, won’t use wood from Grassy Narrows First Nation Territory, a week before logging plan takes effect


One of the biggest lumber companies in Ontario says it will not use wood from Grassy Narrows First Nation territory, just a week before a controversial new 10-year logging plan comes into effect.

EACOM Timber Corporation said Monday that it will avoid wood fibre from the reserve.

It owns six sawmills in the province.

David Sone, an environmentalist with Earthroots, called it a victory for the people of the reserve.

“If even logging companies are willing to respect Grassy Narrows’ right to say no to logging, then why won’t Ontario stop trying to force clearcuts on the community,” said Sone, adding that if companies don’t buy the wood, the plan is bound to fail.

To read the full article click here.

Grassy Narrows requests environmental assessment of logging plan


Clearcutting will elevate mercury poison in fish


Grassy Narrows – Grassy Narrows First Nation is calling for a thorough environmental assessment of the newly approved plan for clearcut logging on their Territory – an important test of Ontario’s environmental laws.  Grassy Narrows is concerned that the planned logging could harm the health of their families by raising mercury poison levels in local fish.  The logging plan makes no mention of mercury, even though Grassy Narrows Territory is the site of Canada’s most infamous case of mercury poisoning arising from 9,000 kg of mercury that was dumped into a local river by a paper mill upstream in the 1960’s.  Scientific studies indicate that clearcut logging in the boreal forest can raise mercury in fish to unsafe levels. 

“Ontario has ignored our voices, and is planning to force more devastating clearcuts on our people,” said Joseph Fobister, a Grassy Narrows hunter and businessman.  “Our people will become even more sick if the government knowingly allows the logging industry to poison the fish that we eat.”

Grassy Narrows’ request is an important test of Ontario’s environmental laws.  Logging plans in Ontario are generally exempt from Environmental Assessment, but concerned people and groups can request an Individual Environmental Assessment (IEA) of a plan if they believe that environmental and human health are not being protected.  Such requests have almost ever been granted. 


Guest Speaker Panel on Human-Canid Interactions

Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, Saint Catharines, Ontario

Click here to see the event page on Facebook.