Precious Resources

A new program for Tahltan First Nation youth seeks to involve them in the sustainable development of their ancestral land.

In August 2014, the tailings pond at the Mount Polley mine site failed, spilling millions of litres of highly polluted mining waste into Polley Lake and raising the level by 1.5 metres. The slurry continued its path through Hazeltine Creek, expanding it from two metres wide to more than 50, and on into Quesnel Lake and Cariboo River. It was called one of the biggest environmental disasters in modern Canadian history and will continue to have a devastating impact on the area for decades to come. For Nathan Skubovius, a member of the Tahltan First Nation, it was also a personal turning point.

“I knew that Imperial Metals, the company that was responsible for that disaster, was the same company that was building the Red Chris mine in the centre of the Tahltan territory,” says Skubovius, who would go on to study mining engineering at UBC. “It was a big shift for me to understand how mining can go in the wrong direction. I realized that if I was going to do anything to change things, I needed to use my education.”

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