My family has had ties to the Yukon mining industry since 1921, when my father came north as a RNWMP officer and stayed on and worked in the mines and travelled the rivers.
It’s interesting that those on the side of a total withdrawal of land in the Peel Watershed have such a narrow view of the world around them. My father was one of the very first people to be concerned about preserving history in the Yukon and taking care of the environment – he worked hard at talking with people and promoting responsible camping on the rivers of the Yukon and visiting the wilderness with care for the environment.
He ran a rafting business on the Yukon River from Dawson to Eagle in the ‘50s and he made sure that as small a footprint as possible was left behind and his sites were cleaner and more pristine than when he arrived.
He walked the walk and talked the talk, long before environment was a buzz word and ecotourism existed.
He had an inherent understanding of the need to educate both the miners and the tourists.
He understood the relationship between mining and sustainable communities.
He understood the mining industry and the environmental responsibility from both sides and the need to have them work together – funny that he has been dead for almost 30 years, so you see, history is important.
He was a true “Renaissance” man, aware of an awakening of a new world which promoted working together for preserving nature and building healthy communities.
I have spent my whole life in the North and my immediate family has been involved in the mining industry for the past 40 years.
My husband supports our family from mining, whether it be placer mining in the summer, prospecting, or helping to build Minto mine and currently building Yukon Zinc, which provides not only immediate money to our economy, but will provide long-term money to the Yukon and jobs for Yukoners.
Yukon Zinc was discovered through prospecting and exploration.
My son owns and operates a business that depends on mining exploration and he provides employment for two to six people every year (one full-time permanent, and university students in the summer).
Mining has been the backbone of our territory for over 100 years and has provided a viable economy for this territory for more than 100 years.
All of those wonderful trails into the backcountry and corridors for ecotourism came from early mining exploration.
During hard times people did not depend on the government and legislation to bail them out – they always helped each other and continue to do so today.
My husband has always been a responsible prospector and miner, not just because the government has kept a close eye on his operations, but because he understands the need for taking care of our environment and being sure that our wilderness stays viable and available to all.
The people who want to protect the Peel Watershed are not global thinkers as they like to remind us they are – they are self-centered – they only see what is best for their own view of the world.
There is a lot of money out there for these people to access and they are very good at taking advantage of this.
Their advertising campaigns and anti-mining messages have access to large coffers.
On the other hand, the rest of the common folk are just getting by with only their hearts to guide them.
I have travelled the rivers in the Yukon my whole life and every time, whether it be the frequently travelled rivers or the way-out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere rivers, I have spent time cleaning up garbage and excrement from the so-called eco-aware companies and the so-called environmentally aware types – we are not the “them or us” here in the Yukon. We have grown with the world view and we are responsible in our activities, we clean up after everyone.
If you look at the Peel Watershed you will see that most of the working stiffs will never get out there as we have no money to fly into the wilderness and have an eco-adventure.
It should not be the private playground for the eco-companies and the numbered few who can afford to visit the area. I am sure that if you were to examine this whole issue there is a solution to accommodate both the adventurers, prospectors, mining industry and those of us who live here through hard times and good times.
Yes, there are some areas that need to be protected and we have the tools to do that in a balanced way.
Transportation corridors for mining exploration must be included in the Peel Watershed area as well as access for mining exploration and future mining to a portion of the area.
There is a case for protecting some of the area and I think that is easily accomplished with careful thought.
Remember, not everyone makes their living from the government and ecotourism – there is a viable private sector in the Yukon and they have been the ones who have remained here through economic hard times and good times. We don’t leave, we pay the bills, we pay the taxes and we keep the spirit alive in the Yukon.
The spirit of exploration, mining, environmental stewardship with all partners, and pride in what our history was and will be.
We love our Yukon, the land, environment, the mining history, the prospectors, explorers, adventurers and who we are.
We are unique and I give thanks for that.