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Family calls for inquest into death of former Grassy Narrows First Nation chief Steve Fobister

Steve Fobister remembered as leader, activist
WATCH ABOVE: Dozens of people gathered at Queen's Park to remember former Grassy Narrows Chief Steve Fobister and pushed to carry on his fight for those who suffered from mercury poisoning in his area. Kamil Karamali reports.

TORONTO – The family of a former chief of an Ontario First Nation plagued by a mercury-contaminated river is calling for an inquest into his death.

Relatives of Steve Fobister Sr., the former chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation who died this month, say the probe would prove his death was a result of long-term mercury poisoning.

READ MORE: ‘He fought hard until his dying day’: Community remembers First Nations activist, Steve Fobister

They are also calling on both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario’s health minister to acknowledge that Fobister was poisoned by mercury.

Mercury contamination has plagued the English-Wabigoon River system near Grassy Narrows ever since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 9,000 kilograms of the substance into the river systems in the 1960s.

READ MORE: Report finds Grassy Narrows residents’ health ‘significantly worse’ than other First Nations

Ontario’s former Liberal government committed $85 million to remediate the river system, while the federal government has committed to funding a treatment centre for those affected by mercury contamination.

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When asked about Fobister’s death on Thursday, Ontario Government House Leader Todd Smith called the mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows a “historic tragedy.”

READ MORE: Ontario government to increase mercury disability payments to affected First Nations