THUNDER BAY – Situated in Canada’s far north, Yellowknife’s Giant Mine produced 7 million ounces of gold between 1948 and 1999. Originally the site of the mine was a traditional hunting ground where the abundance of nature flourished – now it is a toxic site for all time. They took the gold away and left 237,000 tonnes of arsenic behind, enough to poison the entire planet several times over. Mary Rose, an aboriginal woman of the Dene people, lives in a community next to the abandoned mine.
Her people have become the guardians of eternity since the only way scientists believe we can manage the arsenic is to freeze it and filter water from the mine – in perpetuity.
Realizing the enormity of the problem, Mary Rose sounds the alarm to her people: how will they communicate this grave danger to generations that will follow in 1000 years, in 100,000 years that there is a poison hidden under the mine? What language will our future ancestors even speak? How will we transmit the hidden danger? Build pyramids? Carve petroglyphs?
Kelly Saxberg shares, “I started working with France several years back on her Mackenzie pipeline documentary. She told me this story and I couldn’t believe it. It is really shocking and hard to understand how mines have limited responsibility for the messes they leave. I spent the day with Mary Rose when we shot this promo in Yellowknife and what I learned was very depressing. She and her community have an immense task ahead of them because they live there and always will”.
She and her community need to arm themselves first with knowledge, then pass on that knowledge to future generations. She is determined to learn what she can from other aboriginal peoples that have dealt with environmental disasters, and scientists who are experts on arsenic and nuclear wastes. Her people have transmitted knowledge since time immemorial via legends. Perhaps Mary Rose needs to create a new legend about the monster that lurks beneath the Giant mine, a legend that can be transmitted from generation to generation to save the lives of her future great grand-children.
Kelly Saxberg is a film producer, director and editor in Thunder, Bay Ontario who has worked on over 70 films. She first worked with France Benoit as an editing consultant for her film on the macKenzie Valley pipeline.
Right now Saxberg is looking for broadcasters interested in airing the documentary.
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