"After the Mine: Healing Our Lands and Nations" was a workshop jointly sponsored by the Assembly of First Nations and MiningWatch Canada in Sudbury, Ontario, May 11-13. Participants came from First Nations in all parts of Canada.
Abandoned mines are a serious and immediate danger to human health and the environment. They are already costing Canadians millions of dollars in clean-up, cancers, and lost fishery and farm income, and they stand to cost billions more. At least nine of these sites have been identified by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) on First Nations land. An unknown number of others are on lands of aboriginal use or interest (such as the Adams Mine). Frequently, communities find themselves downstream from toxic sites and are unable to assess the risk or potential damage they may cause.
Abandoned mines present a number of challenges for First Nations communities. The workshop addressed the growing need to build the capacity of aboriginal communities to deal with problems created by abandoned mines.
It provided opportunities for participants to share their own knowledge and questions, and included a tour of the Falconbridge tailings area, a sharing of resources available to deal with the problem from the Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment, the Indian Law Resource Center in Montana, the Contaminants Program of the Assembly of First Nations, Northwatch, and MiningWatch Canada, as well as a presentation on law and jurisdictional issues lead by Innu lawyer Armand Mackenzie. There was also an excellent exchange of ideas for future activities and strategic direction on the issues.
The proceedings from the workshop are available from MiningWatch Canada or for download in PDF format here.