Toxic Legacies: Community Perspectives on Arsenic Pollution at Yellowknife's Giant Mine

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: contaminants, social sciences, arsenic, environmental damage, remediation

Principal Investigator: Sandlos, John K (10)
Licence Number: 15834
Organization: Memorial University of Newfoundland
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
Issued: Feb 01, 2016
Project Team: Arn Keeling (Co-Investigator, Memorial University), Amanda DeGray (MA Student, Memorial University), Caitlynn Beckett (MA Student, Memorial University)

Objective(s): To examine how the historical memories of Giant Mines’ impacts can broaden the notion of ecological restoration to address past, and future environmental injustices.

Project Description: This project will take on the challenge of using academic and non-academic media to examine and communicate community perspectives on the history, and current problem, of arsenic deposition in Yellowknife. The research team will not only ask how these historical memories have influenced the current controversy over the Giant Mine Remediation Project, but will also examine the challenges of communicating the extreme hazard the arsenic stored in the mine presents to future generations.

Working with partners that include the Goyatiko Language Society and Alternatives North, the research team will answer the following questions:

1)How can alternative media and public history approaches to research and dissemination (film, oral history, museum displays, and community workshops) on Giant Mine give voice to First Nations perspectives that have been marginalized in archival records and remediation planning?

2) How can historical sources (from archives and existing oral history repositories) be mobilized through the dissemination of historical and contemporary research products that are meaningful, understandable, and useful both to local residents of Yellowknife, and to the Canadian public?

3) How have non-Native residents of Yellowknife responded to the issue of arsenic in the local environment?

4) How can the production of public history material on the arsenic issue promote dialogue and engagement on this topic between non-native Yellowknifers and First Nations?

5) How should today's society communicate with people in the deep future about the toxic legacy of Giant Mine's massive underground arsenic deposits?

6) How can universities and community-based organizations work together on Giant Mine site remediation issues, and how might this approach be used by other communities facing similar challenges around perpetual care situations (e.g. nuclear waste and toxic site planning)?

The overall goal is to collaborate with partners to develop and disseminate publicly accessible information and scholarly research material on the historical and contemporary issues surrounding arsenic deposition and storage in Yellowknife.

A major outcome of the research will be the cross-sector and interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge surrounding Giant Mine. The project's academics, First Nations, and environmental advocates will form a research alliance that benefits from the expertise and research experience of each participant. The documentary film that is produced on the current controversy and long-term communication issues surrounding the Giant Mine Remediation will be presented in Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilo.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from January 29, 2016 to December 31, 2016.