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Wearing protective clothing and gear, investigators prepare to examine the contents of a barrel that was tipped over during a protest outside the Ontario Legislature was closed off after the contents of a barrel were tipped out on June 23, 2016. A group of people were protesting the dumping of mercury on the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Police and firefighters are investigating a mysterious substance dumped outside of the Ontario legislature by protesters supporting the Grassy Narrows First Nation.

The protesters, wearing protective white coveralls and surgical masks, brought four barrels sporting a skull and crossbones warning to the legislature, and spilled one, dumping a thick grey liquid over the broad front driveway.

Syed Hussan of FreeGrassy.net refused to identify the substance, saying only that "it looks a lot like mercury," which has contaminated the remote northwestern Ontario community for decades.

Hussan says if this was mercury dumped near Grassy Narrows, the Ontario government would say it would need to do years of testing to identify exactly what it is.

Legislative security staff closed off the area to the public and called in Toronto police and firefighters to help deal with the protest and try to determine exactly what was dumped on the Queen's Park doorstep.

Hussan insists the protest was not a stunt, and says Premier Kathleen Wynne must commit to cleaning up the mercury in the English and Wabigoon River systems.