WARREN BERNAUER | February 3rd 2012
Baker Lake is a small and mostly Inuit community. The only inland community in Nunavut, it is located west of Hudson Bay, near the geographic centre of Canada. Its Inuktitut name is Qamani’tuaq (“where the river widens”). Baker Lake is in what is referred to today as the Kivalliq region, but was formerly called the Keewatin. Next to the local high school, there is a sign boasting that Baker Lake is the “Mining
Capital of the Keewatin.” Indeed, Baker Lake is home to Nunavut’s only currently operating mine, the Meadowbank gold mine owned by Agnico-Eagle Mines.
Inuit Resistance to Uranium Mining
Since the late 1960s, Inuit in Baker Lake have been contending with uranium exploration, and the possibility of uranium mining, near their community. After more than three decades of resistance to uranium exploration and mining proposals, Baker Lake is faced with a proposal by the French state-owned multinational AREVA to construct a uranium mine called Kiggavik (falcon). The Kiggavik mine would be located 80 kilometres west of Baker Lake, upstream from the community’s water supply and in sensitive caribou habitat. If built, it would be the first uranium mine to be opened in Nunavut, and the first uranium mine anywhere to be operated in an environment of continuous permafrost. AREVA’s proposal, and uranium mining in general, is generating a great deal of controversy throughout Nunavut.