#51 – Canadian Storytime, Part Two: Mercury on the Brain

English Canada had a problem with mercury that it doesn’t really seem to remember.

Minamata Disease is a form of mercury poisoning so-named because of its first wide-scale discovery in the Japanese city of Minamata. Mercury is of course not something that belongs in the human body in any real quantity. So, when the people on the Canadian side of the St. Clair Shores started to come down with such lovely symptoms as failure of eyes and ears, an inability to speak, and tremors the Japanese physicians who handled the Minamata outbreak came to Canada. Then came another, separate outbreak hundreds of kilometers northeast around Dryden, Ontario. That both outbreaks caused profound damage to Chippewa and Ojibwe communities and didn’t really affect white Canada is a bad omen for how Canada dealt with this problem.

Ontario was the first to fuck up when in 1970 it forgot to tell Dryden Chemical Company to stop pumping mercury into the air when it came by to stop the company from dumping mercury-laden waste into a river. Natural oversight, right? Whoops. Chemical Valley continues to run to this day, presumably without slagging off the mercury that the Chippewa of the St. Clair Shores used to collect from the river and sell on the black market but without any real critical evaluation by English Canada. After all was said and done, Dryden got nailed with 9,000kg of mercury. The Aamjiwnaang of St. Clair are the first population on Earth to give birth to 2 girls for every 1 boy – the result of pollution and latent toxicity.

English Canada obviously never bothers to talk about this event. Their attempt at compensation for the Dryden incident is a trust fund that is managed by the Government of Ontario which brought a flurry of complaints that the money can’t be used because of the massive bureaucratic fuckery surrounding it. That’s more than they gave for the people by Chemical Valley in Sarnia, though. The national inquiry as to how it is that Canada scored the dubious honor of being the first to pollute their way to a looming crisis of unknown scope and scale never happened because dem Injins shouldn’t live there, you guys. English Canada continues to ignore the results of its own carelessness and have clearly learned from it so well that the lessons it learned from the suffering of hundreds have been applied to the rails here too.

And that is the story of how Canada ignores mutated Indians because why not.

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