Environmental Devastation in Secwepemc Territory

This week we’ve had an environmental disaster occur from the breach of a tailings pond damn in Secwepemc Territory near Likely, BC. From a story by CBC on August 6, 2014 reports:

“the breach of the tailings pond dam at the copper and gold mine near Likely, B.C., released 10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden fine sand, contaminating several lakes, creeks and rivers in the Cariboo region on Monday. A local state of emergency was declared in the Cariboo Regional District on Wednesday, roughly 48 hours after the Mount Polley Mine’s tailings pond wall gave way​.The force of the breach scoured away the banks of Hazeltine Creek and sent debris flowing into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake, which rose 1.5 metres.”1

A few of my thoughts on environmental protections needed for a more robust policy on energy/mining: the need for adequate as in 51 percent Aboriginal representation on the National Energy Board, recinding parts of the omnibus bill removing environmental protections for most of our country’s river’s, and a stringent environmental assessment process, strict fines in the multi-million dollar levels for environmental infractions would all be a good start.

I’d love to hear others thoughts on this as environmental policy isn’t my forte these are just a few observations from over the years. The Environmental Code of Practice for Metal Mines seems to have a lot of “shoulds” and not enough legal requirements. It is absolutely shocking that a clean up that could amount to tens of millions of dollars will result in a fine of $1 million dollars.

As it is communities are organizing to gather water and fish for the communities as there is a complete ban on drinking the water.

 

1 Mount Polley mine tailings spill: Imperial Metals could face $1M fine, August 6, 2014, CBC http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mount-polley-mine-tailings-spill-imperial-metals-could-face-1m-fine-1.2728832

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What connects you to your Aboriginal culture in the city?

So after a long hiatus these last 15 months, after many fortunate and unfortunate events, I am finally back at it. I had really hoped to have one unsettled area of my life settled so that I could better focus on my writing, but just as my life always is – alas, it wasn’t meant to be. For the next several weeks I am working on my dissertation. I’ve spent the last several days, and really time on and off the last couple months, re-acquainting myself to NVivo and my transcripts. I’m currently working on finishing writing up the last 30% of my findings, I’ve already done the bulk of the work (70%) but have several areas that need to be completed. I’ve been working on one specific question the last couple days: what connects you to your Aboriginal culture in the city? I’ve been writing about that for the last five years of my work both in the federal government, within my research and really just thinking about it because it’s a part of my life. You would not believe the power of the words of the people that I talked to within my research. They warm my heart, they ground me, they connect me. People think that doing research is so alienating, that it’s so distant from being directly connected to our people. You know what? This is storytelling at its absolute best and finest. My job as a humble researcher, as a storyteller, is to share their words with the world that can do it just a little bit of justice and I feel unworthy of it.

How I’ve missed this. Just to give you a small, little taste of my privilege, I’m going to share one quote that really hit me today, it really struck home to the Indigenous experience today to Indigeneity to Aboriginality (love those words), I hope you enjoy them and understand them:

I grew up in Ottawa, in the sense that I came as I was transitioning from youth to young adult, so as I’ve learnt here that the life stages teachings are much for young adults for taking up the work of the people. The great thing about taking up the work of the people and serving in this age is that you learn more about yourself: how you like to take up the work; what you don’t like taking up the work. [Laughs] So you grow a lot that way by doing service to the community (Female research participant).

We grow and we learn in service to our community, I’ve been in service my whole life and always will be.

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Writing, Thesis Writing Seminar and a Move to Vancouver

I reviewed and finalized all of my research transcripts last summer and coded and themed all of my 30 interviews in NVivo. Highlights of my research also include sitting down and meeting with my co-supervisor in the summer we had a great discussion and he really helped me move forward in my thinking about how I will be approaching my writing, the theory and using self-reflexivity.

Since September 2012 I’ve been in my Thesis Writing Seminar at Carleton which is two semesters and I look forward to finishing that up in April 2013. I should say that in late November I took up a position at a post-secondary educational institute back in Vancouver, British Columbia. This has presented some challenges in moving forward with my dissertation, but having the Thesis Writing Seminar has helped bring me back to writing and thinking about the order of my dissertation, making sense of my findings and writing them in a logical manner. This has been the most difficult task with writing is keeping in mind our research questions, clearly linking them to our findings, using narrative and theory to structure the entire document.

Every time I get back in touch with my dissertation and re-read my interviews and collect quotes from my interviews I’m always taken aback at how emotive, rich, thought provoking my interviews are because of the participants that shared their thoughts, experiences, beliefs and often with questions that aren’t easy to answer.

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