New documentary about mercury poisoning in First Nations questions Health Canada safety guidelines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.  October 23, 2009.

New documentary about mercury poisoning in First Nations questions Health Canada safety guidelines

Toronto – ‘The Scars of Mercury’ premieres today at the 10th Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival.  The film documents the ongoing impacts of mercury poisoning on two Ontario First Nations whose river system was contaminated by a Dryden pulp and paper mill throughout the 1960s.   Using new research data, and powerful interviews, it challenges the reliability of Health Canada safety guidelines for this highly dangerous neurotoxin.

 Date: Friday, October 23, 2009

 Time: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

 Location: Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave., Toronto.

Info:  See the film’s website:

The documentary explores the processes that threaten the destruction of a traditional and contemporary Indigenous hunting, fishing and gathering way of life, through residential schools, relocation, treaty violations, and clear-cutting, with a special focus on mercury poisoning.

In late1969 fish, the staple and sacred diet of the Anishnaabek people on the English-Wabigoon river system, had levels of methylmercury 40 times higher than the safety guideline. Methylmercury causes serious damage to the central nervous system.

Three decades later, Dr. Harada, the Japanese doctor whose research helped expose the mercury poisoning in the 70’s, examined the residents of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong again. The symptoms of the residents had progressed from mild to worse, even though their mercury levels had remained under the safety guideline.

Is the safety guideline reliable? This documentary explores an issue of importance worldwide.  What are the cumulative health impacts when people are exposed to low-levels of mercury over an extended period of time?

The film is directed by Tadashi Orui and produced by Tadashi Orui, Sheri Blake and Thor Aitkenhead.


416-924-9221 rm. 322 ask for Sheri Blake (until 25th)

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