The Toxic Legacies Project

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The Toxic Legacies Project. Giant Mine

Based at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Abandoned Mines Project was created to study the historical impacts of abandoned mines on First Nations communities in northern Canada. The goal is to highlight the social and environmental changes that large mining projects brought to northern communities and the ongoing impact of these mines after they were abandoned. Abandoned mines are living historical landscapes, places where human activities from decades ago continue to have environmental impacts in the present day. The project is coordinated by historian John Sandlos and geographer Arn Keeling at Memorial University and has included many students, community members, and partners since 2007.

The current work is focused on the history and legacy of arsenic contamination at the abandoned Giant Mine, near Yellowknife. The Toxic Legacies Project is a partnership among researchers at Memorial and Lakehead Universities, the Goyatiko Language Society (a Yellowknives Dene First Nation non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Weledeh language), and Alternatives North (a Yellowknife environmental and social justice coalition that conducts public interest research).

The project is a response to the Canadian government’s Giant Mine Remediation Project to freeze arsenic underground in perpetuity which has recently undergone an extensive environmental assessment. As a “Partnership Development” project (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), the research results are going to be presented in a way that will engage the community of Yellowknife and the broader concerned public. Therefore the work is devided into five interconnected sub-projects:

Conceptual work and grant writing for this project was supported through a writing fellowship for John Sandlos at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.