Authors describe resistance to uranium mining in Baker Lake

Joan Scottie said book shares the history of her community’s opposition to uranium mining since the ’70s

Joan Scottie has written a new book on colonialism, uranium mining and Inuit resistance in her community of Baker Lake. (Photo courtesy of Joan Scottie)

By Meral Jamal

Baker Lake elder and community organizer Joan Scottie has co-authored a book on colonialism, uranium mining and Inuit resistance. 

Combining Scottie’s life experience with research by Warren Bernauer and Jack Hicks, I Will Live for Both of Us shares her perspective as a hunter, elder, grandmother, and community organizer on a decades-long resistance to uranium mining in the area around Baker Lake.

It was published in November by the University of Manitoba Press. 

Baker Lake’s portion of the Kivalliq is home to rich uranium resources that have attracted exploration and mining companies to the area since the 1970s. And Scottie has been there the whole time, fighting development on the front lines.

“When I first decided that I was going to oppose the proposed uranium mine near my community, I had many local Inuit supporters who wanted to protect their land and environment, our important fishing and hunting areas,” she told Nunatsiaq News in an email. 

“I felt it was my responsibility that their traditional knowledge and wishes be kept, respected and remain intact.”

Scottie said hunters in her area have been negatively impacted by exploration for the past four decades. For example, she said, diamond exploration, drilling, low-flying helicopters and other aircraft disturb caribou migrations.

In order to be successful in fending off exploration and mining in the area, Scottie said she needed to recruit experts who could describe the risks of uranium mining in an unbiased way.

I Will Live for Both of Us co-authors Bernauer and Hicks were just those people.

“My friends and long-time colleagues Jack and Warren were there at the right time,” she said of Bernauer, a geographer, and Hicks, a social scientist.

Scottie said the purpose of the book is to call on the territorial government, Inuit organizations and regulatory boards to “start working for the people they represent.”

“The Nunavut Land Use Plan is not ready. It’s incomplete,” she said. “Sensitive areas, environment, and wildlife habitats all have to be adequately protected for future generations.” 

“The ores will not go anywhere. What’s the rush?”

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Person on

    Because of this statement;

    “When I first decided that I was going to oppose the proposed uranium mine near my community, I had many local Inuit supporters who wanted to protect their land and environment, our important fishing and hunting areas,”

    You, reporter, need to change this biased view;…

    “…fighting development on the front lines.”

    It is not development, it is destruction they see.

  2. Posted by Jamie Boone on

    Stay away from Inuit land. It’s for Inuit.

    • Posted by Simpleton on

      Because Inuit all think one way, the giant Inuit hive mind never diverges, there no diversity of thought or opinion at all.

  3. Posted by Been there before! on

    who wouldn’t oppose uranium mining in their land? Especially when the remediation efforts are nothing short of an insult… Fill the toxic hole with water and let it freeze, build a fence around it so animals don’t get exposed to radioactive dust (as if wind doesn’t happen). Uranium mining and their mitigations are a dangerous joke! Opposition is natural and necessary

    • Posted by Jody on

      Uranium mining has been going on for 70 years in northern Saskatchewan on First Nations land. The vast majority of them seem to be pro-mining. The remediation efforts are more complex than you describe. Maybe the First Nations in northern Saskatchewan are just dummies?

      • Posted by been there before on

        The remediation efforts I speak of were the ones described to us at the mine proposal meeting in Iqaluit.

        • Posted by Jody on

          When was this? The last proposed uranium mine in Nunavut was 10 years ago. Remediation efforts have advanced even since then. Anyway the first nations in northern Saskatchewan in your assessment must not value their health and environment since you seem to equate it with danger.

  4. Posted by Glowing on

    6 Billion dollar project, 0ver 1 billion dollars for NTI, 1 billion for gov of Nunavut, 500 jobs, this project fits in with liberals green plan, it will happen 20 years from now. It will never go away, and people will

  5. Posted by Silas on

    The people of Baker Lake have had a taste of a mine that will expire in a few years. The loss of jobs will cause an outcry by many who now work and will not be able to find work for lack of education.
    It will be difficult to restrain the younger generation from speaking out regardless of the hazards of mining uranium to the environment and wildlife.
    They won’t think that once it is mined out, that’s it! Just like the gold, once it’s gone that’s it, no more; the jobs won’t come back.
    The jobs at any mine are all temporary no matter how long they are open for.

  6. Posted by Same Old Schtick on

    Joan and her Tankie buddies need a new hobby.


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