In a letter to Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, representatives of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, the Cree Trappers Association, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the Nunavik Hunting Fishing and Trapping Association (NHFTA), and the Kativik Regional Government, along with other health experts and environmentalists, are asking the Canadian government to take action to eliminate the use of lead ammunition and fishing gear.
The letter notes that recent studies commissioned by the Canadian Government on lead ammunition and lead fishing gear provide compelling evidence that the use of lead ammunition and fishing gear is causing harm to human health and to wildlife and should be stopped.
The signatories of the letter call on the government to:
- Respect the clear scientific evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to lead;
- Change Health Canada’s outdated, dangerously inadequate Guidelines for determining whether Canadians – and, in particular, young children – have harmful levels of lead in their blood;
- Respect the scientific evidence that the use of lead ammunition and fishing gear is causing serious harm to the health of hunting and fishing communities and to wildlife;
- Recognize that indigenous communities, particularly children, are especially at risk because of reliance on hunting and fishing for sustenance;
- Support the call of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, the Cree Trappers Association, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services and the Nunavik Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Association to take action to eliminate the use of lead shot and ammunition;
- Introduce an action plan to phase out the use of lead in ammunition and fishing gear, working in collaboration with Indigenous communities, the provinces, non-governmental organizations and commercial interests; and
- Set up a fund for the specific purpose of assisting Indigenous communities to make the transition to non-lead ammunition and fishing gear.
The Government has taken action on lead in gasoline, paint, and other consumer products, but thousands of tonnes of lead are released into the environment every year through the use of lead ammunition and fishing gear, causing harm to human health, poisoning a large number of loons, eagles and swans, and leaving a toxic heritage for the next generation.
It does not have to be this way. Safe and effective non-lead alternatives exist.
Read more about the Cree Health Board Lead-Free Campaign.
Reports referenced in this article:
Paul Meillon, MSc
Planning, Programming and Research Officer
Environmental Health Program
Regional Department of Public Health
514-861-2352 extension 73255