Mine remediation entails long-term risks associated with the containment and monitoring of dangerous materials. To date, research on mine remediation in Canada has focused primarily on technical fixes; little is known about the socio-political and colonial aspects of remediation. Using the Giant Mine in Yellowknife (Northwest Territories, Canada) as a case study, this research investigates the story of the Giant Mine ‘Monster’, how it was defined, how it has changed and how nearby communities will care for the mine in the future. Using a mixed methods approach, this research combines literature reviews, archival analysis, key informant interviews and participant observation in analyzing the multiple experiences, practices and stories of the Giant Mine Remediation Project. Directed by the frameworks of ecological restoration, Indigenous environmental justice and science and technology studies theories of care, this research reveals that, by focusing on the technical containment of arsenic trioxide pollution, the Giant Mine Remediation Project sidelined community objectives for compensation, independent oversight and a perpetual care plan. However, through the ongoing activism of the Yellowknives Dene First Nations and community allies, the Giant Mine Monster is being creatively reframed as something to care for and live with for generations to come – a responsibility for mining wastes that settlers across Canada have yet to meaningfully reckon with. I argue that the Giant Mine case points to a critical reconceptualization of environmental remediation as an anti-colonial mechanism to (re)structure, or (re)mediate, relationships with both land and people. Without a community objectives based approach to remediation, such projects risk continuing systems of colonization, marginalization and environmental injustice.
Beckett, C. (2020). Beyond remediation: Containing, confronting and caring for the Giant Mine monster. Nature and Space, pp. 1-24. doi 10.1177/2514848620954361