30 JAN 2012: REPORT
Canada’s Nunavut Territory is the largest undisturbed wilderness in the Northern Hemisphere. It also contains large deposits of uranium, generating intense interest from mining companies and raising concerns that a mining boom could harm the caribou at the center of Inuit life.
by ed struzik
Until her semi-nomadic family moved into the tiny Inuit community of Baker Lake in the 1950s, Joan Scottie never knew there was a wider world beyond her own on the tundra of the Nunavut Territory in the Canadian Arctic. She didn’t see the inside of a school until she was a teenager and didn’t venture south until she was an adult.
But that all changed in 1978, when a Soviet satellite carrying 100 pounds of enriched uranium for an onboard nuclear reactor crashed into the middle of the wilderness she knew so well, resulting in a military search that recovered some of the radioactive debris. Everything that Scottie learned about uranium after that convinced her she wanted nothing to do with a mineral that had the potential to cause such serious health problems or be used for military purposes.
Canadian author and photographer