2017: Report completed: Asbestos Hill: Inuit Experiences with Nunavik’s First Mine
Thesis completed – October, 2016
Over the past century, the Canadian north has experienced an economic, social, and environmental transformation due to mineral development projects. These new developments have contributed to the rapid modernization of Aboriginal and Inuit peoples. Research has shown that past mines in the North continue to play a role in northern communities, shaping community identity and leaving behind negative environmental and socio-cultural legacies. As of yet, little social science research has been undertaken on the impacts of mining in Nunavik (northern Québec) and this study is the first to be conducted on the Asbestos Hill mine (1972-1984), Nunavik’s first mine. Using oral history and archival research methods, this thesis examines past Inuit mine workers’ experiences at the mine, the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq’s encounters with this industrial operation, and the legacies it left behind.
CBC Yukon Radio Interview in February 2016. Yukoner studies mines and impacts in northern Quebec Jeanette Carney shared details of the research that she has been doing looking at the history and impacts of mining in the North. You can listen to the interview at https://soundcloud.com/cbcyukon/yukoner-studies-mines-and-impacts-in-northern-quebec
January 15, 2016. report by Sarah Roger. Nunatsiaq News. Picking apart the sordid back-story of Nunavik’s first mine.
Jeanette is a Francophone who was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon. She currently lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she is completing her Master’s degree at Memorial University. There, she enjoys the wealth of music, frequent fog and rain, and friendly people. When she’s not travelling from one end of the country to the other or working on her Master’s, Jeanette can be found hiking, canoeing, fishing, or hunting. A personal goal of Jeanette’s is to have lived in every province and territory in Canada. Professionally, Jeanette aspires to be employed in a position that allows her to work closely with Aboriginal communities in relation to natural resource development.
Jeanette completed her Bachelors of Arts degree majoring in Geography and minoring in Sociology at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Jeanette began working on Masters at Memorial University in September 2014.
Supervisor: Dr. Arn Keeling, Memorial University
The Asbestos Hill Mine: History and Legacy.
Over the past century the Canadian north has experienced an economic, social, and environmental transformation due to mineral development projects. These new developments have contributed to the rapid modernization of Aboriginal and Inuit peoples. In Nunavik (Northern Quebec), the Asbestos Hill mine was the first mineral development project in the area to operate. It began production in 1972 after much encouragement from the Federal Government, as the mine was seen as a means of bringing jobs and financial self-sufficiency to surrounding remote Inuit villages. During its operation, the mine hired many local Inuit from the villages of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq. The Asbestos Hill mine introduced money, southern products and languages to Nunavik on a scale that Inuit had never experienced before.
The mine’s closure in 1984 left the community in good spirits as Inuit expected the opening of the Raglan nickel mine, which would bring with it more jobs and economic benefits to the communities. Although there were many positive outcomes from the Asbestos Hill mine for Inuit, the mine also left some negative environmental and social legacies behind. At the time of its closure, remediation of mine sites were not made mandatory by any government body. Consequently, all mine structures were left on site, along with uncovered tailing ponds. To this day, Inuit in Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq remember life before and after the Asbestos Hill mine, as well as the social, cultural, and economic changes they lived as a result of this first mineral development project on their homeland.
The Asbestos Hill Mine project looks at the history and cultural/environmental effects of the Asbestos Hill mine (near the present-day Raglan Mine and the Nunavik community of Salluit) that opened in 1972 and closed in 1984. The objective is to uncover the operational history of the Asbestos Hill mine in Nunavik, the environmental legacies it left, and the impact that it has had on the Inuit population. This project will benefit the communities by adding to the historical knowledge surrounding the Asbestos Hill mine, such as its Inuit employment and the impacts of its closure and remediation on the area. This research is important because it is the first to be conducted on the Asbestos Hill mine and it will help with the understanding of contemporary issues and controversies surrounding mining in the North. The research findings will help bridge the gap in the understanding of past Inuit engagements with mining in the region. Key research questions include: What impacts have mineral exploration and development had on the Inuit communities in Nunavik? What were the employment benefits of the mine to the Inuit population? How did the Asbestos Hill mine closure and remediation impact residents of the area?
Carney, J. 2017. Asbestos Hill: Inuit Experiences with Nunavik’s First Mine
Carney, J. 2015. Akulivik Report: Toxic Legacies of Mining Explorations. Chaire de recherche sur le développement durable du nord, Université Laval.
Creator and Project Coordinator of ReSDA’s Humans of the North. 2014. Whitehorse, YT, Canada.
Other associated ReSDA projects:
Department of Geography
Telephone: (867) 333-0056