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The Wabigoon River has been sacred to the people of Grassy Narrows for generations. Along with the chain of lakes through which it runs, the river provided fish, drinking water and nearly full employment in guiding and commercial fishing. But shortly after the mill started dumping, mercury began appearing at alarming concentrations far downstream and throughout the entire food chain.
I've spoken to thousands of environmental and community activists during many years of meeting with Canadians across this country. I've heard too many stories of people being harassed, ostracized, sued for standing up to large corporations and even fired from jobs because of their environmental advocacy. Canadians must continue to speak out for our water, land, air and wildlife, for justice for Indigenous Peoples, and for a clean energy future -- without fear of harassment, intimidation and hatred.
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Birds have long been the "canaries in the coal mine" for our destructive ways. Extinction of the passenger pigeon sparked the first large environmental movement in the U.S., and led to restrictions on hunting, as well as federal and international regulations to protect migratory birds. Now, birds face a range of new problems, most caused by humans and many serving as further warnings about our bad habits.
The America that set me on my path would never deny the reality of a scientifically proven problem, or claim nothing can be done about it or that meeting the challenge will destroy the economy. By committing to seek solutions, we will reap benefits -- expected and unexpected. It's time to revive the American know-how and gung-ho enthusiasm that has long characterized this great nation.
Pete Seeger, who died January 27 at the age of 94, inspired generations of political and environmental activists with songs. Like me, he was inspired by Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring to become a strong defender of the environment as well as human rights.
Modern methods of controlling pests have consisted mainly of poisoning them with chemicals. But that's led to problems. Pesticides kill far more than the bugs they target, and pollute air, water and soil. Some fascinating research has found a way of dealing with bed bugs that may go back centuries.
This emphasis of economy over environment, and indeed, the separation of the two, comes as humanity is undergoing dramatic changes.So we create departments of forests, fisheries and oceans, and environment whose ministers are less concerned with the health, and well-being of forests, fish, oceans than with resources, and the economies that depend on them.