Joan Kuyek

How to Protect your community
from the Mining Industry

How to Protect your community from the Mining Industry

Reviews & Opinions


John Cutfeet, First Nation Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Canadá

December, 2018

Finally, a long overdue book that shines a light into the oftentimes dark, murky world of mining, exposing a tradition that has always been cloaked under economic prosperity without taking into consideration the real costs to human health and the environment. This book brings to the surface the process of mining and its very real impacts on people who live close to the land.

In a world often far removed from the view of mainstream soci- ety, and as mining companies and shareholders celebrate the financial gains reaped by operating mines, communities, and particularly Indig- enous communities, are faced with the potential destruction of lands and waters that have sustained their cultures for centuries, leaving them with what is referred to as a “culture of contamination.”

From the effects of the Mount Polley disaster—and it was a disas- ter, not only for the millions of salmon that use those waterways to reach their spawning grounds, but also for the people and communities that use the salmon to sustain life—to the struggle of both settler and Indigenous communities dispossessed of lands and waters, Joan Kuyek shines truth onto the fallacies perpetuated by government and industry that mines are “little holes in the ground” and a “temporary use of land.”

There is nothing “temporary” about the impacts of mining on eco- systems, many of which have been used for generations by people who live close to and survive off these lands.

I first met Joan in her role as national coordinator of MiningWatch Canada during a difficult period in the history of my home community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI, to those who cannot pronounce the official title for our community). A junior exploration company had come onto Kitchenuhmaykoosib Aaki (land) in 2006 without the knowledge or authorization of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug as a collective. In the struggle that continued well into 2008, culminating in the courtroom drama of having to release the KI leadership from incar- ceration, Joan’s support and vast knowledge of mining (reflected in this amazing book)—and including other resources at her disposal—were available to KI during this time of great turmoil and conflict in this remote community of just over 1,500 people.

Joan worked tirelessly to assist KI by attending court hearings after we were sued for $10 billion when KI protested a proposed drilling pro- gram. Joan’s support was evident as she brought awareness to the main issue: the need to reform the antiquated Mining Act in Ontario. As Joan has said, “The problem here is the antiquated ‘free-entry’ system that allows mining and exploration without consultation with affected First Nations communities or consideration of other values such as ecolog- ical values, trapping, hunting, clean water or even consideration of cli- mate change impacts.”

When six members of KI (including five members of Chief and Council) were sentenced to six months of incarceration for not allowing the mining company access to KI homelands in contempt of a Superior Court ruling to provide immediate access, Joan continued her support of KI through letter-writing campaigns, media releases, and the mobilization of support networks. Joan came to KI to decipher the technical jargon mostly unheard of at the community level and was able to paint a clear picture of the mining industry to Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.

She understood the concept of Kanawayandan D’aaki, the spir- itual mandate provided to KI to protect and steward the lands and resources—and the need for alternative economies that are sustainable to ensure the survival of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and its future generations. This book provides the same insight for people who are looking at ways to develop strategies that move beyond the core sam- pling and mine tailings.

As she so generously shared and supported KI in times of strife, Joan shares her fifty-plus years of experience, her knowledge and wis- dom in these pages, allowing us a glimpse into an industry that she has explored for most of her working life. From policies and legisla- tion, boardrooms and stocks markets, to the coal mines of Nova Scotia and the dumping of mine tailings into the Rose Creek, which flows into the Pelly River system in the Yukon, this book paints a picture of the true costs and impacts of the mining industry on the environment and, more importantly, the lives of the people it touches, be they positive or negative, short or long term.

Joan breaks down the impacts of chemicals used in the mining industry and their effects on humans and wildlife. She describes how cyanide, sulphuric acid, ammonia, chlorine, and hydrochloric acid impact humans and the environment. The price of prosperity is mea- sured against the cost of human health, wildlife, the environment, and the future.

This tool developed by Joan will provide many with access to the experience and knowledge that we had during the conflict in KI. If you are facing uncertainties from mining and are looking to gain insight into a complex industry whose impacts are felt in a huge way on the ground, Joan’s unique insight can support the development of strategies that can help you put mining in its place.

With government and industry pushing to mine, mine, and mine, in often impoverished Indigenous and settler communities alike, Joan’s book is a solid rock on which to build to protect what is yours and mine.


Joan Kuyek

Joan Kuyek is a community-focused mining analyst and organizer living in Ottawa. She was the founding national coordinator of MiningWatch Canada from 1999 to 2009 and continues to do work for MiningWatch and for a number of communities affected by mining. Other books by Joan Kuyek are "Community Organizing. A Holistic Approach" (Fernwood Publishing, 2011) and "Fighting for Hope: Organizing to Realize Our Dreams" (Black Rose Books, 1990).


Luis Manuel Claps

Spanish translator

Luis Manuel Claps has a degree in Communication Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires. As Mines & Communities Latin America editor, he contributed to communication campaigns on the social and environmental impacts of mining in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. He published "Dirtigol en la ruta del oro sucio" (Remitente Patagonia, 2019).

Jamila Maia

Portuguese translator

Jamila Maia has been an English teacher since 2000, graduated from Paulista University. She has been a freelance translator for over 15 years. Former pedagogical coordinator, she worked in the selection, hiring and training of teachers for language schools. She prepared translations and versions for clients such as National Geographic, Greenpeace, HuffPost Brasil and the Institute for National Socioeconomic Studies (Inesc), among others. Member of the Regional Forum of Mulheres Zona Oeste SP.


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