Across the Cardinal Divide

Across the Cardinal Divide r1 ... View this e-mail in your browser. Very few Albertans have ever heard of the Mountain Cree-Smallboy camp, an Indigenous cultural settlement along the Cardinal River, a few hours east of Jasper National Park. Fewer still will have seen this place for themselves.

For the last five decades the people here have quietly lived far, far off the beaten track, outside the bluster of the modern world. Using buckets, community members draw water directly from the Cardinal River for drinking and washing and chop wood for heat. Children attend a small school and enjoy a local ice rink. The houses are hand-crafted, set just back from a solitary road.

The camp is widely understood by the people of the community as a place of healing.

But just upstream, a threat to the camp and its way of life looms. Teck Resources plans to expand a major metallurgical coal mine in the nearby Rocky Mountains. The expansion would bring mining activities across the Cardinal Divide and into the camp’s watershed.

Journalist Janice Cantieri — a former Fulbright National Geographic Storytelling Fellow — was afforded a rare welcome into the community, to hear the concerns of individuals who fear pollution of the Cardinal River would end their way of life.

Traveling to the remote community, Cantieri spent hours on unmarked roads, driving well past cell service zones. “You definitely feel like you’re outside of the rest of Canada,” Cantieri said, after two winter visits to the camp.

As she conducted research for her piece, Cantieri said she found very little written about the proposed expansion of the Cheviot mine. “There was really nothing on this expansion at all. It was a little concerning because Teck is pushing through basically a whole new set of mines under an old permit that doesn’t require them to go through a new environmental assessment.”

“They’re using an environmental assessment from the '90s.”

Be sure to check out our in-depth feature on the mine expansion this week.

And as always, we bring you oh-so-much more.

Emma Gilchrist
Editor-in-chief, The Narwhal

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No, Judy. THANK YOU!

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