I think in the future, it might be a good idea for the publisher, Bruce Valpy, to actually read columns before commenting on them (“Collateral damage – where do Indigenous economies fit in climate change crusade,” News/North, Feb. 3). It was with great surprise when I read that Nancy Vail was dead set against mining. I am? When did that happen?

If he would have actually read what was written (“Our own banana republic,” Yellowknifer, Jan. 22), he would have understood that I said mining needs to be looked at through a cost-analysis lens with the determining factor being greenhouse gas emissions, carbon neutrality and the minerals’ contribution toward our moving toward a green economy. I have written the same statement many times.

Further, with Australia burning down, one billion animal lives lost and 200 species disappearing every day, I think the question of whether certain industries that contribute to GHGs are irresponsible goes without saying. And the ability of Indigenous groups to be cognizant of industries’ impacts on the land, water and animals is generally beyond dispute. Considering that our caribou are almost gone thanks to the affects of industry-caused climate change, there is little doubt that the colonial ways and the artificial economy they created to sustain a materialistic and often greed-driven world in the past is not working. I definitely said that though we continue to move forward in a manner that has moved us dangerously close to the tipping point —climate change catastrophe. I know I said that too.

In case readers missed it, the doomsday clock inched its way toward high noon last week when we were all attending the Giant Mine hearings figuring out how to go forward from that colossal mess.

As Indigenous groups sign agreements to mine for rare earth minerals, I’m sure they will take better care of their land and water than we did and further, that they will be looking out for future generations— something we often do not do. From them, we learned the practice of thinking about the generation ahead … not just ourselves.

Finally, I’m sorry if Valpy does not have the construction skills necessary to build his own house — though it’s not clear whether he’s tried his hand at mining. I have great faith that many Indigenous people can if given the materials and opportunity to do that. It is no wonder that the initiative is a little weak since the goal of the federal government was for so long to beat the Indian out of the Indian. A little hard on the self esteem.

And as for the thousands of unemployed Indigenous people from the communities who will remain jobless without the mines, the majority of those working in the mines come from outside the territories anyway. Their taxes go home with them.

I don’t know how many meetings I’ve been to where Indigenous workers detailed how their family’s lives were torn apart by rotating shifts and the fluctuating nature of the industry.

Further, while companies knock earnestly at the door wanting to build mines, they don’t do that to pay taxes on royalty revenues. That’s just bad business.

The status quo is not so much keeping First Nations tied to social assistance by not allowing them to create mining companies of their own, it’s caused by not allowing them to think for themselves outside the box we made for them.

Our hope is that First Nations groups who look to resource extraction of rare minerals are more sensitive to the environment and what we are leaving for the future generations than we were. After attending week-long meetings figuring out water and land use plans for a site containing 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide, I have little doubt some First Nations groups will be much more thoughtful with their projects.

You were right about one thing —I don’t like mining. Not now. Our earth is hurting. We need to be focused on an environmentally-sensitive industry that lends itself to sustainable businesses and the planet’s recovery. That’s being responsible..

So please Mr. Valpy, in the future read the columns before commenting. We’ve seen the damage fake news can do.

Postscript: Occasionally in life one develops a conviction so precious and meaningful that he will stand on it till the end.

Martin Luther King Jr.

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  1. Valpy encouraged Vail to consider another perspective. But she chose only to use the publisher’s rebuttal for yet another running commentary of her viewpoint about mining. ‘Australia is burning…the government isn’t getting their ‘take’…mining is greedy, profit driven and morally irresponsible…need cost/benefit analysis…support only mining for green technology…the Earth is hurting’. She admits she has “written the same statement many times” and judging from her post script, Vail plans to stand on these sentiments to the end. The right to a personal opinion and conviction for a cause should have value. But if there is really nothing new to say to readers, then perhaps Vail’s column has lived out any useful purpose.

  2. Opinion and commentary columns are not “fake news” or any kind of news for that matter. They are opinions. Heaven forbid someone holds one you don’t agree with.