Grassy Narrows leaders marched alongside hundreds of supporters through downtown Toronto to demand action amid the ongoing mercury poisoning crisis in the northern Ontario First Nation.

The demonstration began at Queen’s Park around 12:15 p.m. and then travelled towards the Department of Indigenous Services Canada on Bay Street.

The water in the First Nation reserve was contaminated by tonnes of mercury that was believed to have been dumped into the waterway by an upstream paper mill. A study estimated that about 90 per cent of the population suffers from some degree of mercury poisoning.

“We're here to ask both governments to keep supporting our endeavor to deal with this mercury problem," said Chief Rudy Turtle at Queen’s Park.

Last month, Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O'Regan visited Grassy Narrows and announced that he would sign an agreement to provide mercury-related health care services. According to a news release issued by the organizers of the demonstration, O’Regan left without a deal after more than four hours of intense negotiations.

Eighteen months earlier, his predecessor, Minister Jane Philpott, had committed to building a Mercury Care Home in the area. According to the release, which was issued Thursday ahead of the march, only one percent of the construction cost for the facility has been delivered.

The construction has been at a standstill for 200 days, the event organizers said.

The leaders of Grassy Narrows are demanding that the federal government place $88.7 million into a trust to cover the 30-year lifecycle cost of the Mercury Care Home, as the Ontario government has done in the past for the rehabilitation of the English and Wabigoon Rivers.

Behar Shapour from Toronto came to Queens Park in support of the First Nation community.

"I'm here to support the Grassy Narrows fight for justice to clean up the mercury that is impacting their communities,” he said. “It's been two years that the cleanup hasn't happened and it's unacceptable."

"I feel solidarity and I feel responsibility,” said Anke Heiser, who is new to Canada. “I don't see me and us. I see us, all of us on this earth, one people that need to live together. We need to share, we need to manage to survive together in a good way."

With files from the Canadian Press