From: Shauna Morgan, Yellowknife city councillor
I certainly acknowledge that mining is one of the main reasons that Yellowknife has evolved into its current form (see Yellowknifer editorial here).
Another main reason is colonialism–Ottawa’s continuing need to stake its claim on the northern frontier. I believe our heritage should make us both proud and somewhat uncomfortable. We also owe our existence to the hard-working, gritty entrepreneurial spirit of the Indigenous and settler families, who carved out a living by fishing, harvesting, cutting wood, helping each other—without being dependent on big southern-based industry or government to survive.
I refuse to be pushed into a camp – either ‘for’ or ‘against’ mining. What I am against is dependence on mining—an economically and environmentally risky business defined by boom and bust cycles, controlled by outside interests.
When the industry asks for subsidies or infrastructure paid with taxpayer dollars, I have a responsibility as an elected official to weigh the public benefits of any particular project with its costs – both in terms of up-front subsidies and long-term environmental liabilities.
This concern is real and close to home. Yellowknife is sandwiched between two massively contaminated former gold mines that are costing taxpayers—you and me—well over a billion dollars to partially clean up. Future generations will likely be paying indefinitely to keep Yellowknife safe. Although the idea of ‘responsible’ mining is now popular, we still lack fool-proof regulations and technology to prevent this kind of disaster from happening again.
The point is to learn from our history, and to continue to evolve into our best potential. The City has been working hard to pursue economic diversification, including tourism and a polytechnic university campus. I choose to take my inspiration from those independent-minded, entrepreneurial foremothers and forefathers who dared to imagine something better for their future, and ours.