Reviews & Opinions
A clear and helpful overview of the mining industry from a Canadian perspective that includes powerful observations regarding colonial violence, perpetual care, and sacrifice zones.
Associate Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies and former Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Joan Kuyek may not be a familiar name to many people outside Canada, but she's achieved legendary status within the country for her steadfast opposition to the worst that mining companies can bestow on communities. She co-founded, then coordinated, MAC's partner organization MiningWatch Canada, and has written several key texts. The latest of these is "Unearthing justice". This, she says, is "my life’s work all tied up in one package." Long may she continue to fight, write, and inform us all!
Features editor at Mines and Communities, author of The Gulliver File.
Unearthing Justice reveals the false equation between mining and prosperity in stories of mine disasters, toothless regulation, and environmental contamination. Kuyek illuminates the legal and financial contexts of mining development, providing practical advice to help readers challenge the promises and legacies of mining in their communities.
Dr. Rachel Ariss
Ontario Tech University
When a mining company comes to your town it brings its imperialist ideology, its private militia, its army of lawyers, its lobbyists, its public relations experts, its tax haven-connected accountants, and the various levels of government it has purchased. It will threaten your community’s living conditions, its ecosystems, its agriculture, its security, and its culture. You will have to pour all of your energy into an entirely uphill battle. But Joan Kuyek’s book reminds you that your community is not nearly as alone or as isolated as it may seem, that bonds of solidarity are as possible as they are necessary. Above all, her book shows us why we must tear down the institutions that make Canada a legal and regulatory haven for the global mining industry.
Co-author of Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries
Kuyek thoughtfully weaves together facts with her own experience and immense wisdom to expose what the mining industry would prefer stay buried. A community organizer renowned for her knowledge of mining in Canada and abroad, Kuyek reminds us of the many brave people who have resisted, sometimes triumphantly, destructive extractivism.
Activist, instructor, critical development studies, University of New Brunswick
Joan Kuyek is an authority when it comes to researching and organizing against destructive mining projects. This book provides a detailed understanding of many different types of mineral extraction and shares strategies for opposing them. Filled with dozens of examples drawn from decades of experience, this book is essential for understanding this powerful industry.
Co-founder, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Joan Kuyek has written an excellent book, describing in layperson’s terms all aspects of mining, from exploration to reclamation, as well as the laws, operations, and financing of the mining industry. Even though I have worked with two Indigenous communities to stop mining exploration, I didn’t understand the whole process or industry. This book provides clear advice how to hold the mining industry in check and how to stop a mine. I highly recommend this book for anyone having to deal with potential or existing mines.
Kahnawake Mohawk, Indigenous policy analyst, editor and publisher of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin
This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the mining industry. Kuyek’s experience and analysis shine through the stories she tells.
Co-manager, MiningWatch Canada
Kuyek cuts to the on-the-ground realities of mining, revealing industrial formulas and ongoing systemic colonial approaches. Her insight and experience shed light on a new path forward for empowered communities facing mining today.
Nuskmata (Jacinda Mack)
Nuxalk Nation Mining Advisor
An inspiring, insightful and well written book by one of the most prominent women activists of our times. A must for everyone working on mining issues, Joan Kuyek takes us on a journey to a greater understanding of the many aspects of the industry, its colonial roots and disturbing impacts on people and planet. She also weaves together her stories and those of others resisting mining to remind and inspire us on how to curtail, limit and bring about change in the communities. The book is not a guide but a revelation.
Ximena Saskia Warnaars
Program Officer, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Ford Foundation
John Cutfeet, First Nation Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Canadá
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.
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