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Da Silva is an award-winning advocate for Indigenous rights and ecological justice. She is also an elder and community leader in Grassy Narrows First Nations, located northeast of Kenora, Ontario. Much of her activism has focused on fighting for justice for her community after a chemical plant upstream dumped 9,000 kilograms of mercury into the river in the 1960s and ’70s.
The pollution contaminated the fish and poisoned the Grassy Narrows people, who drank the water and relied on the fish as a staple of their diet. Da Silva has also spoken out about clear-cut logging, oil spills and pollution. She has been a voice at the grassroots level, at gatherings, speeches and demonstrations, and at national and international levels, negotiating with provincial and federal governments and presenting at the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Rio Earth Summit. For her advocacy wok, she was awarded the Extraordinary International Activist award from Human Rights Watch in 2017 and the Michael Sattler Award for Peace from the German Mennonite Peace Committee in 2013.
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