Steve Fobister died last week of mercury poisoning at the age of 66 following a life dedicated to seeking justice for his people. He served as Chief of Grassy Narrows and later as Grand Chief of Treaty #3 leading his people through negotiations for mercury justice and against clear-cut logging.
Long after the mercury robbed him of his mobility and his physical strength, he remained an outspoken advocate for his people and for the environment that is the foundation of their way of life. In 2014 he held a hunger strike in front of the Provincial Legislature, relenting only when the minister committed publicly to act on Steve’s two primary demands. 1. Disability payments to those suffering from the mercury in payments reflecting rising cost of living. 2. Mercury Care Home in Grassy Narrows for treatment. Only weeks ago was a design completed for such a home in Grassy Narrows with completion set in the fall of 2019. These are measures Steve set into motion.
A memorial service was held in front of the Provincial Legislature last Thursday evening. A sacred fire was lit and there was drumming both on a large drum and with hand drums. Chief Rudy Turtle, friends and family members spoke of their experiences of Steve’s courage, commitment, humour and his inspiration.
-Rosemary Williamson, OLM