In this short article, previous contributor to Dianuke, Candyce Paul (Saskatchewan’s Uranium Industry and Dene Ecology), reports on her participation in a recent meeting in Kamloops, Canada where indigenous North American nations gathered to discuss new approaches to resisting harmful resource extraction. Candyce has been active for many years in protecting Denesuline lands in northern Canada and is a member of The Committee for Future Generations, which fights against the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) plans to target indigenous communities as a location for a repository for highly radioactive fuel rods produced by Canada’s nuclear power plants.

Resource extraction impacts and resistance

By Candyce Paul, January 13, 2018

The proposed Ajax Mine would have been located south of Kamloops, in south-central British Columbia.

I recently traveled to Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, in Stkíemlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation for a North America wide meeting about resource extraction impacts and resistance. The stories are similar to ours in northern Saskatchewan, where the uranium mining industry has used its industrial colonial method of keeping indigenous people poor and in crisis to access indigenous lands. The one outstanding difference came from the Stkíemlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation. They re-established the positions of family representatives outside of the elected Band government and created their own Environmental Review Panel to assess the impacts and benefits of a large mine project. They examined the project thoroughly using both science-based and traditional knowledge and did the assessment through their own cultural perspective. This thorough approach resulted in a solid rejection of the project. This rejection was supported by the City of Kamloops and since then by the B.C. [provincial] Government.

As people of the land, it is absolutely imperative that we set the environmental standards and make the decisions on land/water use and development in our remaining territories. Industrial colonialism is setting up to take all resources from our lands in the next few decades. Although they declare that this will have low impact on aboriginal rights to hunt, trap, or fish, this is not the reality. The “rights” are protected. A place, a land-base, a Nation, will very soon be so occupied and contaminated there will be nowhere to practice those “rights”. We cannot look to system leaders to protect the Nations. It is the Duty of each of us to take back our voices and use them to make the decisions as real stewards to protect the lands, air, water, the living Earth, since the system leaders cannot or dare not. For the sake of future generations WE must.