Opposing the uranium industry and 'nuclear colonization' in Saskatchewan

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Candyce Paul. She is a member of the Committee for Future Generations, a group that formed in northern Saskatchewan to oppose efforts to locate a radioactive waste storage facility in the region. Earlier this year, they won that battle, and they have moved their focus to the impacts of existing uranium mines and of the many mining exploration claims blanketing (and disrupting) the area.

Industrial activity that requires the mining and use of significant amounts of radioactive material has been around since at least the middle of the 20th century. Such activity inevitably results in waste that is no longer useful but that continues to be radioactive, and therefore dangerous. Despite the many decades we have travelled into the nuclear era, there remains no solution that has been rigorously proven to be safe and that is broadly accepted for dealing with waste that, in the case of uranium, will continue to emit radiation for billions of years.

Uranium mining arrived in northern Saskatchewan in the 1970s, along with a complicated mix of embrace and resistance from local communities -- which are mostly Cree, Dene, and Metis, with a handful of settler folk mixed in. Then, in 2011, it emerged that the leadership of three communities had signed up to be considered as the potential location for a radioactive waste storage facility. The Committee for Future Generations was soon born as a collective vehicle for residents to oppose any such facility. They did extensive research and public education; they participated in public hearings, meetings, and regulatory processes; they did a protest walk to Regina; and, ultimately, they succeeded in ensuring that none of the three communities in the territory were chosen for the waste facility. But uranium mining continues, and the territory is covered with claims where companies will be doing exploration that could well end up in one, two, or many new mines.

Paul talks with me about the Committee for Future Generations' organizing so far; about their significant concerns about the health, social, and environmental impacts of the uranium industry, which she encapsulates as "nuclear colonization"; and about their next steps in working towards a safe, healthy, decolonized future for northern Saskatchewan.

To learn more about the work of the Committee for Future Generations, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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