Where trapping is still a way of life, Quebec lithium projects spark fears for future
NEMASKA, QUE. — As Freddy Jolly’s pickup truck travels the dusty roads through the spruce forests outside Nemaska, Que., the one radio station fades in and out, and Jolly fills the gaps between country ballads with conversation.
“There are fewer moose than before due to logging,” Jolly says as he scans the horizon.
This is Eeyou Istchee in northern Quebec, the traditional land of the James Bay Cree, with a surface area equivalent to two-thirds of France. The 65-year-old Cree hunter and trapper knows the land well and has agreed to take a visitor to see sites where lithium mines are under construction.
Inside the pickup truck’s cab lie two rifles, one for small game and one for big game.
If he were to encounter a moose, Jolly would shoot it and share the meat with his community members, in keeping with tradition. He explains that in the fall, in the Eeyou Istchee, every family has moose meat in their freezer. Hunting is a source of food but it also helps maintain the cultural and spiritual values of the Cree Nation.
His parents and grandparents sold furs to the Hudson’s Bay Company, and he sells them to a company in North Bay, Ont., but he fears that this way of life, which many Cree still depend on, will be disrupted by the rush for the new “white gold” — lithium.
Companies planning to develop mines in the region believe it contains some of the world’s largest deposits of spodumene, a lithium-rich mineral.
“There are more and more mining claims. I see more and more people from the south exploring and drilling on traditional hunting areas, and soon, many roads will be built for lithium mines,” Jolly says.
In order to develop mines for lithium and other critical minerals needed for the electrification of transportation, the Grand Council of the Crees and the Quebec government are planning to build hundreds of kilometres of new roads and power lines, a railroad, and a deepwater port in the Eeyou Istchee.
Jolly’s truck stops at kilometre 58 on the EM-1 road on the territory of the Cree community of Eastmain, north of Nemaska.
This is where Critical Elements Corp. plans to empty two lakes after harvesting the fish and donating them to the community. This will allow the development of an open pit lithium and tantalum mine that could produce about 4,500 tonnes of ore per day for 17 years.
The mine will be built directly on the traditional hunting grounds of Ernie Moses, the tallyman or supervisor for the local trapline.
“I’m sad, but there’s not much I can do about this project,” Moses says in an interview near one of the lakes that will be drained.
For several generations, his family has trapped beavers in the lake. The area is home to an abundance of game, fish, and bird species at risk, according to the federal government’s environmental assessment.
Critical Elements Corp., says that in order to extract ore from the ground in this region, which holds “one of the highest purity spodumene deposits in the world,” it will be necessary to destroy wetlands and cut down a significant number of trees.
“What will be left of this land in 20 years?” wonders Moses, adding that when he looks at the lake in front of him, he sees “beavers, but the mine sees dollar signs.”
The trapper made an agreement with the promoter to help him inventory the beavers on the territory so they can be removed before the lake is eliminated, and either relocated or killed for their pelts.
The Eeyou Istchee is divided into 300 family traplines, each large enough to support an extended family. Every one of these traditional traplines is under the responsibility of a tallyman like Moses, who on this day has brought along two of his daughters and his son-in-law to teach them.
“It’s important to pass on this traditional way of life; when I walk on this land, I take the place of my ancestors, they know I’m here,” he said. “Whenever I’m on my trapline, I think about them, I’m filling in for them, and I want this to continue after me.”
Mining exploration projects for various types of metal have more than doubled in the last 15 years in the Eeyou Istchee, going from 174 in 2004 to nearly 400 in 2021. A few dozen kilometres down the road from the soon-to-disappear lakes lies the future site of the Nemaska Lithium mine, in which the Quebec government has invested tens of millions of dollars.
Nemaska Lithium plans to blast the spodumene rocks that contain the precious metal, and to do so, it too will have to eliminate a small lake and a creek, in addition to altering several bodies of water, according to a company progress report.
The mining company estimates there will be between 3,770 and 5,500 square metres of habitat loss for several fish species, but a report from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada concludes the “anticipated negative residual effects on fish and fish habitat” are much greater — 54,600 square metres of fish habitat.
Louis-Martin Leclerc, a spokesman for the mine, said Nemaska Lithium is working on updating a compensation plan for the loss of fish habitat.
According to the company, 10 species of mammals considered threatened, vulnerable or at risk, including the wolverine and the woodland caribou, can be found in the project’s study area. Nemaska Lithium recognizes that a vast number of activities, during both the construction and operation phases of the mine, will impact wildlife.
However, Leclerc adds that there is no compensation plan for the loss of these mammals’ habitat because, according to its inventories, none of them have been observed on the actual site of the mine.
One of Jolly’s biggest concerns is that a chemical spill or mine tailings will contaminate other bodies of water. The mine site is located in the watershed of the Rupert River, one of the largest rivers in Quebec, which has always been an important source of food for the Cree.
“It would be catastrophic,” the trapper says with a sigh, adding that lithium mining is dividing his community.
Benoît Plante, a water quality expert, led a research project on the site of the future Nemaska mine.
“Zero risk does not exist,” said Plante, a professor at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. “There are risks of dust, physical stability and water contamination, but we have some of the best legislation, which can minimize these risks and make sure they are acceptable.”
Both the Nemaska Lithium and Critical Elements projects have received approval from federal and provincial authorities as well as Cree band councils in the region.
In Eastmain, band Chief Kenneth Cheezo supports the mining development.
“This is new for us, it’s the first time that a mine will open on this territory,” he said in an interview.
“The company has come into the community, into our schools, to talk to young people about the jobs that will be created, and we’re not just talking about low-level employees; there are job opportunities in engineering, human resources, and several management positions.”
The high school graduation rate has increased recently in Eastmain, and he believes this may be due to the eventual opening of the mine and the jobs that will be offered.
“I like to think that the success of our students over the past few years can be explained, perhaps in part, by the fact that they know, at the end of their studies, that something, a reward, may await them,” he said.
The companies have committed to providing job training in the Cree communities. Furthermore, the communities will receive undisclosed amounts of financial compensation for hosting the mines.
Cheezo says he is confident, based on meetings with Critical Elements Corp. representatives, that the extraction will be done in a way that minimizes environmental impacts.
However, he admits that finding the right balance between the traditional way of life, environmental protection and economic development is a perilous exercise.
“It’s very difficult, because the land is so sacred to us, so it’s painful to give a piece of it, even if it’s just a piece of rock.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2023.
Stéphane Blais received the support of the Michener Foundation, which awarded him a Michener–Deacon Investigative Journalism fellowship in 2022 to report on the impact of lithium extraction in northern Quebec.
Stéphane Blais, The Canadian Press
Once homeless and hungry herself, this retired nurse set up a low-cost meat shop to help those in need – CBC.ca
Ten years ago, Brigida Crosbie was homeless and eating out of the dumpster at the back of a KFC restaurant, but now she runs her own meat shop and goes out of her way to feed everyone who comes through her doors.
In 2020, Crosbie started Tydel Foods, a store staffed by volunteers in Chilliwack, a small city 90 kilometres east of Vancouver in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, that sells quality food cheaper than the big box stores. A rib-eye steak, for instance, goes for $8 less than at the supermarket. Striploin is $6 cheaper.
Her volunteers, many of whom became aware of her work through word of mouth or social media, say they signed up to help because they support what she’s doing for the community.
Crosbie’s store is often packed with customers, a sign of the deep need for affordable food as inflation hits record highs. The latest report from Food Banks Canada says the demand for food banks in B.C. increased by 25 per cent from 2021 to 2022, higher than the national average of 15 per cent.
She says she finds it surprising how easily she’s able to sell her meat for less than a large grocery store.
“The big thing in my mind is if I could give this price and I’m just a person off the street that’s just an advocate in the community, then how come the bigger box stores can’t give it at a much lower price?”
Crosbie has programs focused on helping seniors, people with disabilities and those who are homeless.
For seniors, she offers packages containing a selection of meats for $50. On Saturdays, the store offers free soup, stew or chlli.
Crosbie says she manages to ensure everyone leaves her shop with food.
“When someone tells me they couldn’t eat, I know exactly how that felt, and that’s how I got into meat,” said Crosbie, who says her business philosophy is “people over profit,” and she chose meat because it’s one of the biggest expenses on a food bill.
WATCH | Brigida Crosbie talks about how she came to open her low-cost meat shop:
Crosbie says she started Tydel because she remembers what it’s like to be hungry.
A decade ago, she left an abusive partner, taking her two daughters, Tyanna and Delana. Although Crosbie was employed as a nurse at Fraser Health Authority, the family of three was temporarily homeless.
“You’re sleeping on a concrete pillow, and then you had to eat out of the garbage — that was the worst thing,” she recalled.
Eventually, with help from a friend who loaned her money and her bank, who helped her access emergency funds, Crosbie found an apartment for herself and her daughters in the mid-2010s.
When she retired from Fraser Health in 2020, she decided to open a low-cost food store. She began by googling how to run a business and took out a small loan.
She named the store Tydel, a melding of the names of her two daughters.
Demand for low-cost food
Crosbie says her empathy and past experiences have motivated her to give. She says she also experienced hunger in her childhood. Her father was in prison, and her mother, who died at 49, had substance abuse issues.
When customers who come into the store can’t afford the prices or don’t have any money, Crosbie says she gives them food for free.
Crosbie says she’s able to turn a small profit because there’s a high demand for low-cost food. She says she sets her prices only marginally higher than her cost, but the high volume of customers manages to keep her in business.
“The need is so high in the community for this price point of affordable food … It’s the turnover of people that come in that helps keeps us afloat,” said Crosbie.
To help offset expenses, she says she uses the optional tips on her debit machine and pays for various expenses from her own pension cheque.
“So long as I meet my lease, that’s all that matters to me.”
Customers say they have come to rely on Tydel as the cost of living goes up.
“If it wasn’t for her, a lot of us wouldn’t eat properly,” said Joann Gianforte, a frequent customer who is in her 70s and spends most of her income on rent.
Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove says he has gone on a number of delivery runs with Crosbie.
“She’s a rock star. She provides an awesome service at awesome prices,” said Popove, who added that some local food processors donate to Tydel Foods.
Popove says there is a need for more organizations like Crosbie’s.
“The government’s got to play a role in it too. They have in the past and continue to do so, but they need to step up.”
Systemic Racism in Canada Healthcare Sector
In Canada, there is evidence of inequities for some races, especially racial minority groups. Health disparities are widespread among racial minorities like the indigenous people leading to the experience of subs-standard health outcomes by these communities compared to the majority races. The conditions of the indigenous communities are worsened because of the low socio-economic situation and lack of access to quality health care. Systemic racism within healthcare remains a huge contributor to lower health outcomes for racial minorities in Canada. There are documented pieces of evidence showing poor health outcomes among racial minorities because of systemic racism, failures of existing policies in mitigating systemic racism, and actions that policymakers can take to mitigate systemic racism.
There are many reported cases of improper health care given to racial minorities in Canada. Reports indicate that indigenous women are being coerced or manipulated into sterilization. The men have often been ignored when they seek emergency treatments; they are left to suffer for long hours, sometimes, die (Boyer, 2017). Boyer gives an example of seven women who contacted the Saskatoon Health Region Commission and confirmed to have been subjected to coercion to have them have a tubal ligation post-delivery (2017). Boyer (2017) continues to say that many of them consented to the procedure because they were manipulated to believe it was reversible. The women added that social workers, nurses, and the physicians in the hospital pressured them when they were either in the pain of labor or just after delivery (Boyer, 2017). During this period, the victims were most vulnerable and powerless to resist coercion and manipulation. The women have suffered immensely after the tubal litigation (Boyer, 2017). According to Boyer, the commission concluded that the health Centre encouraged discriminatory and racial health care for indigenous women.
Another example of systemic racism is portended after the inquest into Brian Sinclair’s death, a First Nations man. Brian Sinclair was a 45 years old man who died in 2008 after being neglected in the Health Sciences emergency department for 34 hours. He dies of a treatable infection in the bladder. In the inquest, the working group identified several racist events that led to his death (Gunn, 2020). For instance, Sinclaire was visible to all the emergency staff in the emergency room. Yet, they ignored him, assuming he may be intoxicated, homeless, or just hanging around the room. According to Gunn, he was not questioned for the entire 34 hours (2020).” Even when the public intervened,” Gunn (2020) continues, “the emergency staff quickly dismissed them by stating that Sinclair was intoxicated or sleeping and that he was not sick at all.” The working group concluded that Sinclair was a victim of racial stereotyping and that the emergency staff was guilty of his death.
The two cases are just a few examples that indicate that the current anti-racism policies have failed. The two cases demonstrate how healthcare seekers from minority racial groups face racial discrimination daily when seeking medical care. Mahabir et al. (2021) agree. He says that racialized healthcare systems, especially from Toronto, have significant ethnic and racial-based discrimination exacerbating the healthcare challenges to the already socio-economically disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities. Mahabir et al. points out that these hospitals prioritize unequal access to care (2021). Discrimination and bias adversely affect the indigenous communities in Canada. Many suffered from worsened medical conditions, stigma and loss of human dignity and in some cases loss of life.
To mitigate the effects of systemic racism among racial minorities, Mahabir et al. recommend enacting anti-racist policies that address racial discrimination against minorities and, more fundamentally, address the unequal power in social relations and their relation to the healthcare systems (2021). Resources must be committed to the investigations to achieve structural so that when complaints are reported, accountability and punishment can be meted out to the perpetrators of racism.
In conclusion, despite the enactment of many policies and laws aimed at taming racial discrimination in the healthcare system, racism is still pervasive, especially in those situated in the indigenous community’s surroundings. There are many documented cases to prove that. Therefore, stakeholders should relook at the existing policies to improve them by modifying, overhauling, or enforcing them where necessary. Without taking these steps, racial discrimination will grow because the perpetrators will be encouraged, and the strides already taken in the fight against discrimination in the healthcare system will be reversed.
Boyer, Y. (2017, November 20). Healing racism in canadian health care. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5698028/
Gunn, B. (2020). Racism ignored. Ignored Racism, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108861915.003
Mahabir, D. F., OCampo, P., Lofters, A., Shankardass, K., Salmon, C., & Muntaner, C. (2021, March 10). Experiences of everyday racism in Toronto’s health care system: A concept mapping study – international journal for equity in health. BioMed Central. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-021-01410-9
Comedian Joe Avati Set to Bring Down the House on the Canadian Leg of His World Tour this Summer
Toronto, ON – Comedian, Joe Avati, will have Canadians roaring in their seats as he delivers his unique brand of comedy to audiences in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec this summer. When I Was Your Age takes the world-famous Australian comic’s reputation for pointing out the humour in generational and cultural differences one step further by putting a hilarious spin on the complexities of modern-day parenting, the minefield of cancel culture, and the woke brigade. Audiences are asked to leave their political correctness at the door as he delivers his side-splitting insights on how times have changed, for better or worse, since he grew up as a teenager in the 80’s. Avati’s comedic observations are not only deadly accurate but extremely relatable to all ages, guaranteeing a laugh-a-minute show that the whole family can enjoy.
A household name here in Canada, Avati is one of the original ethnic comedians. He first connected with his audience 25 years ago through his hilarious anecdotes about growing up in Australia as the child of Italian immigrants. That, along with his razor-sharp wit and priceless observations about generational differences, have since established him as a household name around the world as well as in Australia, North America and the UK where he regularly performs to sold-out crowds. Setting him apart from other humorists is the fact that Avati has endeared himself into the hearts of his fans by keeping his shows clean and free from profanities, which means that fittingly, all generations can enjoy his shows together!
“I have performed to comedy lovers of all ages—mums and dads, teens, and even kids because everyone can relate to my stories,” Avati explains. “I can’t wait to bring my new tour to Canada this summer because Canadians are the best audience!” And it’s no wonder. Avati has had the privilege of selling out Canada’s top venues many times over since he started touring here in 2001. He also boasts two number one live comedy albums here in the Great White North with one of those albums having held the top spot for 18 months straight.
Tickets for When I Was Your Age Canadian dates are on sale now at www.joeavati.com.
June 3 Vancouver, BC
June 4 Kelowna, BC
June 13 Winnipeg, MA
June 14 Winnipeg, MA
June 16 Edmonton, AB
June 17 Calgary, AB
June 17 Calgary, AB
June 18 Calgary, AB
July 6 Toronto, ON
July 7 Toronto, ON
July 8 St Catharines,
July 9 Windsor, ON
July 12 Thunder Bay, ON
July 15 Ottawa, ON
July 22 Montreal, QC
About Joe Avati
Heralded by The Globe and Mail as “one of the world’s hottest comics” and dubbed as Australia’s answer to Jerry Seinfeld for his unique brand of clean comedy, Joe Avati has become a household name over the course of his 25-year career. Establishing him firmly in the annals of comedy greats is his anthropological approach to humor, inspired by his life as a child of Italian immigrants living in Australia. One of the first ethnic comedians, Avati’s routine about growing up with a culturally diverse background propelled him to fame in Australia, and then on the world stage, as evidenced by his sold-out tours across his homeland, the UK, and North America. In 2014 he was nominated for Comedian of the Year, and he has been given rave reviews by the world’s biggest media outlets. In addition to his comedy routine, Avati is also a shrewd comedy producer and has been called “pure comic genius” for his successful productions, his prolific comedic output, and his marketing savvy.
For more information, high-resolution photography, or to book an interview with Joe Avati, please contact Sasha Stoltz Publicity at 416-579.4804 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inside the Very Tough Business of Trying to Disrupt Media – Vanity Fair
Federal budget 2023: Canada's clean economy tax credit plan – CTV News
Post Politics Now: Biden to press for democratic renewal in speech to global summit – The Washington Post
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Search for life on Mars accelerates as new bodies of water found below planet’s surface
Politics16 hours ago
Justin Trudeau has let Beijing deep into Canadian politics
Art19 hours ago
‘Before cancer I was really unhappy’: Tracey Emin on the joy of founding her own art school
Real eState19 hours ago
Cottage sales expected to decline in 2023
Business17 hours ago
Canada eases some rules around foreign homebuyers ban
News9 hours ago
Systemic Racism in Canada Healthcare Sector
Art19 hours ago
Emily Fisher Landau, Patron of Contemporary Art, Dies at 102
News15 hours ago
Comedian Joe Avati Set to Bring Down the House on the Canadian Leg of His World Tour this Summer
Science18 hours ago
Look up: 5 planets will align in Tuesday’s night sky