The Yellowknives Dene and Arsenic

The Yellowknives Dene maintain strong historical memories of the arsenic pollution that accompanied the opening of Giant Mine. Many elders recall people becoming sick or dying from drinking contaminated water in the early days of the mine. The mine also severely damaged the ecology of the Baker Creek Valley, cutting the Yellowknives off from an important berrying, hunting and fishing area. This project will present the Yellowknives’ perspective on arsenic pollution. This site will expand to include short videos, audio clips, photographs, timelines, maps and recollections from community elders. The website will also host educational material on the history of Giant Mine we are planning to develop for schools in the NWT (this was a recommendation from the recent environmental assessment). The website will help to preserve Yellowknives memories of arsenic pollution in their community. It will also tell the story of a now largely forgotten chapter in the history of Yellowknife’s gold boom and the development of northern Canada.

For more, see out community reports:

Giant Mine History Backgrounder

Giant Mine: Historical Summary

Other publications on this topic include:

Sandlos, J., and Keeling, A. 2017. The Giant Mine’s Long Shadow: Arsenic Pollution and Native People in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. In Mining North America: An Environmental History since 1522, edited by John R. McNeill and George Vrtis (University of California Press): 280-312.

Keeling, A., and Sandlos, J. 2017. “Ghost Towns and Zombie Mines: The Historical Dimensions of Mine Abandonment, Reclamation, and Redevelopment in the Canadian North,” in S. Bocking and B. Martin, eds., Ice Blink: Navigating Northern Environmental History (University of Calgary Press). (online)

Sandlos, J., and Keeling, A. 2016. Aboriginal Communities, Traditional Knowledge, and the Environmental Legacies of Extractive Development in Canada. The Extractive Industries and Society 3,2:278-287. (online)

Sandlos, J., and Keeling, A. 2016. Toxic Legacies, Slow Violence, and Environmental Injustice at Giant Mine, Northwest Territories. Northern Review 42: 7-21 (online).

Sandlos, J., and Keeling, A. 2016. “Pollution, Local Activism, and the Politics of Development in the Canadian North,” RCC Perspectives 2016/4, pp. 25-32. (online)