Uranium. The very word makes us cringe. Past experiences for Aboriginal peoples have been unpleasant to say the least. The Navajo people in the US were exposed to the toxic effects in the 1940s and 1950s. In Canada, the Dene of Great Bear Lake stated, “Without being told of the deadly hazards of radiation, our men carried radioactive ore and our families and children have been exposed to radiation for over 60 years.”
It is understandable that Crees are concerned with the prospect of mining exploration concerning uranium in Eeyou Istchee. The above map shows just how extensive it could be. The map shows the protected area near the Otish Mountains, but surrounding it is the uranium exploration by mining companies.
The potential problems are not just something that could affect the community of Mistissini. The watershed extends all the way to the James Bay area and because of that other communities should be questioning what might happen. An expert in the field looking at the claims being staked said if a majority of them went through, nobody is safe.
Part of the claims enter another watershed that goes into southern Quebec. So organizations trying to stop uranium mining there are unaware of how plans in northern Quebec could affect them.
While promises are being made of how there will be no impacts and how safe current mining practices are, it is time to get independent experts to assess what is happening. It is just not one mining company and it is not just one community that will be affected.