NB Media Co-op – “To say I did all I could:” Jacinda Mack. Pain of Mount Polley spill felt in New Brunswick.
By Tracy Glynn.
Fredericton – Jacinda Mack, a Nuxalk and Secwepemc woman from British Columbia, was on the unceded Wolastoq and Passamaquoddy territories in New Brunswick in August to intervene at the annual meeting of Ministers responsible for mining and to meet with indigenous communities and those concerned with the proposed Sisson mine near Stanley.
Mack is a survivor of the catastrophic Mount Polley mine waste spill in the Quesnel watershed, home of birthing waters of salmon and other fish. The Mount Polley spill, what the industry and government dubbed an “impossible event,” occurred in the middle of the night on August 4, 2014. Mack said the breach of the tailings dam sounded like jet engines flying overhead. An estimated 24 billion litres of toxic slurry of mud and water, scoured old growth forest for 10 kilometres. Mack described the affected area:
“Willow trees that grow everywhere weren’t growing in the creekside.” No one was killed in the largest tailings spill in North American history unlike the world’s largest tailings spill that happened about a year after the Mount Polley spill. The Samarco tailings disaster in Brazil on November 5, 2015 killed 19 people, devastated the River Doce and spilled into the Atlantic Ocean. For Mack and the people of Xatśūll First Nation, the spill was received as a death in the community:
“Our people are grieving. My grandchildren will never know what it’s like to swim and fish in Quesnel Lake. That’s their inheritance, part of our bloodline now.” There has been a three-year fight to have Imperial Metals, the company behind the Mount Polley tailings spill, fined for numerous violations to British Columbia and Canadian laws protecting fish and water. Mack said it was up to her mother, Bev Sellars, former Chief of the Xatśūll First Nation, to file charges as a private citizen in the eleventh hour, before the three-year time limit was up for fining the company for the incident. …
Mack, coordinator of First Nation Women Advocating Responsible Mining, was part of a delegation organized by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and MiningWatch Canada that hand-delivered a petition with 40,000 signatures calling for justice for the Mount Polley spill to Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr at the Ministers’ meeting in St. Andrews on August 14.