Historical Documents: Urangesellschaft’s Kiggavik Proposal

The following public documents deal with the history of the struggle against uranium mining in what is now Nunavut, prior to the completion of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993. Click here for a general overview of this history. Makita is currently working to locate more important documents. Check this section soon for more updates.

In the 1980s, Inuit and their allies in what is now Nunavut defeated a proposal by Urangesellschaft to mine uranium west of the community of Baker Lake. Nunavummiut organized at the local level in Baker Lake, forming the Baker Lake Concerned Citizens Committee, headed by Joan Scottie (currently the co-chair of Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit). At the regional level, Nunavummiut formed the Northern Anti-Uranium Coalition (NAUC), an alliance of various regional organizations. In 1990, a public plebescite was held in Baker Lake, in which 90% of the community voted “no” to Urangesellschaft’s proposal. By this time, all relevant Inuit organizations had voiced firm opposition to uranium mining near Baker Lake.

The following historical documents are related to this struggle.

Letter from Tagak Curley, then president of the Keewatin Wildlife Federation, to NWT Government Leader Dennis Patterson. (November 22, 1988) Mr. Curley expresses outrage that Dennis Patterson and the Government of the NWT refuses to take a public stance on the issue of uranium mining in Nunavut. Mr. Curley raises the fact that Mr. Patterson took a leading role on the uranium issue in the early 1980s. At that time, in reference to the claim that there are effective laws in Canada which prevent Canadian uranium from being used in nuclear weapons, Dennis Patterson said, “Those laws and regulations have been proven to be entirely ineffective and meaningless.”

Verbatim transcript of the 1989 Keewatin Uranium Workshop held in Baker Lake.

Letter from Tagak Curley, Spokesperson of the Northern Anti-Uranium Coalition, to federal Environment minister Lucien Bouchard. (April 18, 1989) Tagak Curley and NAUC demand that the Federal Government postpone the review of  Urangesellschaft’s proposal “until such time as the people of the Keewatin feel sufficiently informed about the fundamental questions regarding uranium mining to effectively participate in them.” Mr. Curley specifically raises the issues of bilingual terminology lists related to uranium and the translation of the EIS Guidelines into Inuktitut.

Open pit uranium mining raises health concerns.  (April 21, 1989) Globe and Mail

Northern Anti-Uranium Coalition’s comments on the Federal Review Panel’s Guidelines for the review of the Kiggavik Proposal. (1989)

Keewatin Inuit Association (KIA) Resolution #6 – 89: Proposed Baker Lake Uranium Mine. (1989) Resolution for the KIA to “vehemently oppose” the Kiggavik proposal.

KIA Resolution #1 – 90: Proposed Kiggavik Uranium Mine. (1990) Resolution to reaffirm the KIA’s vehement opposition to Kiggavik proposal and recognize the hard work of Inuit to inform themselves about the dangers of uranium mining.

KIA Resolution #2 – 90: FEARO Review of the Proposed Kiggavik Uranium Mine. (1990) Resolution insisting that the entire Environmental Impact Statement should be translated into Inuktitut, or else the “fundamental rights of Keewatin Inuit” would be violated.

KIA Resolution #3 – 90: Failure of the GNWT to Oppose the Proposed Kiggavik Uranium Mine. (1990) Resolution demanding that the Government of the NWT take a public stance on the Kiggavik proposal.

Press release from Baker Lake Mayor Garry Smith. (February 15, 1990) “the Hamlet Council of Baker Lake has decided to hold a plebiscite on the Kiggavik question as soon as legally and administratively possible.”

Letter from KIA President Louis Pilakapsi to NWT Government Leader Dennis Patterson. (February 16, 1990 ) Mr. Pilakapsi demands Dennis Patterson and the Government of the NWT take a public stand on the Kiggavik question.

‘Patterson denies GNWT support of Kiggavik’. (February 16, 1990) Nunatsiaq News

Dennis Patterson’s response to Louis Pilakapsi’s letter of February 16, and Pilakapsi’s reply to it. Pilakapsi contrasted the GNWT’s refusal to take a position on Kiggavik in advance of the FEARO review with its willingness to take a position in advance of the FEARO review of proposed pulp and paper mills in northern Alberta.

‘Patterson’s silence attacked’. (February 26, 1990) News/North

Motion of ‘Opposition to Exploration and Mining of Uranium in the N.W.T.’ Moved in the NWT Legislative Assembly by MLA Peter Ernerk (February 27, 1990)

‘Motion opposing Kiggavik stalled by legislative Assembly’. Nunatsiaq News (March 9, 1990)

Open letter from Baker Lake Mayor Garry Smith to Urangesellschaft Canada Ltd. Executive Vice-President Mick Stuart. (April 3, 1990) “At a recent meeting of the Hamlet Council the Council unanimously voted to oppose Kiggavik. … the plebiscite, with results of 397 “NO”, 43 “YES” confirms this is the wishes of the people ofBaker Lake.”

‘Baker Lake wants Kiggavik abandoned’ and ‘Citizens committee at heart of opposition to uranium’. News/North (April 23, 1990)

‘The other side of Kiggavik’ (May 26, 1990) Opinion piece in Nunatsiaq News by NAUC Co-ordinator Jack Hicks

Press release by Urangesellschaft Canada Ltd. (July 5, 1990) Requests that the FEARO “delay indefinitely” its review of the Kiggavik project.

Magazine Articles

‘Snow job: Doing the uranium hustle in the NWT’ Paul McKay, This Magazine (1989)