Labrador / Quebec Iron Ore Belt

In 1954, the Iron Ore Company of Canada opened a large iron mine in the vicinity of Knob Lake. Eventually, the town of Schefferville, in Québec, arose to house miners and their families. The main purpose of the project was to ensure a reliable supply of iron ore to large American steel companies. Under different circumstances, both Innu and Naskapi families moved to Schefferville to find wage employment at the mine. The Innu, who were coming for the most part from Sept-Iles, settled around Knob Lake, before being moved to Lac John in 1956. In the same year, the Naskapi were relocated from Fort Chimo and Fort Mackenzie to the shores of Knob Lake by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The transition from a life spent on the land into a wage employment lifestyle involving mining labour was a significant historical event for these two nations. The eventual closure of the mine in 1982 had a major economic impact on the non-Native population of the town, and also on the adjacent Innu and Naskapi First Nations.

Several other iron ore mines continue to operate in the region, near communities such as Labrador City and Wabush, Labrador. We are interested in how these communities have weathered the boom and bust cycles associated with the mining industry, and how they commemorate and express pride in their mining heritage. We will also investigate how environmental problems such as dust pollution and massive landscape change have impacted workers and citizens in these mining towns.