Indigenous activists Jacinda Mack and Carrie James come from two different countries and opposite ends of rivers their livelihoods depend on. One issue unites them: concerns over under-regulation of Canadian mining projects on the U.S.-Canada border.
Mack, a Canadian from the Indigenous Xat’sull community, hails from Williams Lake, a small town near the headwaters of the Fraser River. She’s experienced environmental disaster before. In August 2014, a tailings dam failed at Mount Polley mine, sending 847 million cubic feet of mining waste into nearby rivers, places she used to harvest subsistence foods to feed her family. Ketchikan Tlingit and Haida woman Carrie James, 44, fears a repeat of Mount Polley could happen in her backyard. The Kerr Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mining project is pursuing mineral exploration at the headwaters of the Unuk River, which flows into Southeast Alaska above Rivillagiggedo Island, near Ketchikan.
The KSM project, designed to be one of the largest such mines in the world, is governed by the same B.C. mining regulations that allowed the Mount Polley disaster to happen.
The Empire met with Mack, James and filmmaker Matthew Jackson at Cope Park recently to talk about their documentary “Uprivers.”
The film tells the story of Mack’s activism and James’ fears for her subsistence lifestyle.