Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The impact of indigenous high school protest against uranium mining

antnuke-relevantflag-canadaHow a high school student helped block Quebec’s uranium industry Financial Post, Damon van der Linde, Dec. 15, 2016, MISTISSINI, Que. — Hunting grouse on a snowy road that cuts through the forest north of his home in the Cree community of Mistissini, Justice Debassige reflects on why, as a 17-year-old high school student in 2012, he started a petition against a uranium exploration project 215 kilometres away.

“I read research on how it damages the land and the water, so that was what drew me in,” he said, while searching for birds down the road towards the now-shuttered site owned by Boucherville, Que.-based Strateco Resources Inc. “It’s something to really think about when we’re out here.”

Debassige said he couldn’t have imagined at the time that his petition would be the catalyst for a complete moratorium against exploration of the radioactive mineral across Quebec, result in a $200-million lawsuit by Strateco Resources against the government and pit the federal nuclear safety agency against a provincial environmental commission.

But it did, and The Matoush Project — named after the Cree family that traditionally use the land for hunting, fishing and trapping — in northern Quebec’s Otish Mountains has lost its glow…….

Debassige and two other classmates collected about 200 signatures from students and staff in opposition to the project, which caught the attention of Shawn Iserhoff, Mistissini’s youth chief at the time. He raised the concerns with the Mistissini Band Council and in the spring of 2012, Strateco arranged two days of hearings in the community………

“The traditional Cree way of life is based on the land,” said Thomas Coon, former president of the Cree Trapper’s Association, in an office that has a map showing how the entire vast territory is covered by family trap lines that are passed down through generations.

“As much as possible we try to avoid any dangerous, damaging project. With uranium, it’s damage that can never be repaired.”…….

As Strateco’s stock plummeted, anti-uranium activism grew in both the Cree and environment organizations. A group of Cree youth garnered media attention in late 2014 by walking 850 kilometres from Mistissini to Montreal and the movement also drew support from the global anti-nuclear activists. ……. the MiningWatch Canada advocacy group argues uranium’s current lack of social acceptability is based on the long-term risks of storing millions of tonnes of the radioactive mining waste.

“If the industry can show that they can handle the waste with a risk factor that is acceptable, maybe the social acceptability will change in the future, but at the moment it’s not there,” said Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for MiningWatch in Quebec………

Debassige, now 22, won a Nuclear-Free Future Award in 2015 on behalf of the Mistissini youth for his efforts against uranium development on Cree land. Today, bringing home two birds he shot for his family’s dinner, he still doesn’t think the potential economic benefits of uranium mining are worth risking what he and his community already have.

“There’s vast open space where I can possibly one day teach my children what my father taught me: how to survive out on the land,” he said. “We’re connected to the land spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.”

December 16, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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