Mining, environmentalism and social justice in the Far North

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, environmental activist Kevin O'Reilly talks about his work on mining and resource extraction issues in the Northwest Territories.

You could make a pretty convincing case that, historically, a central reason that 'Canada' exists in the form that it does is in order to facilitate powerful, colonial institutions in extracting resources from the land, in the form of furs, minerals, lumber, oil, gas, fish, and agricultural products. This function seems to have been reemphasized and reinvigorated by the current federal government. While there is a beleaguered but still significant manufacturing sector in some parts of the country, and there is of course the pervasive service sector that is common to the rich countries of the world, across much of the country taking resources from the land continues to be the focus of a great deal of money and effort. And across the country, despite many different forms of struggle across many years, that process remains very colonial, very harmful to the environment, and constitutive of a very unequal society.

Kevin O'Reilly is an activist with a group called Alternatives North, a multi-issue social justice and environmental coalition based in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. One of the organization's areas of work, and O'Reilly's own focus, has been pushing for sound public policy when it comes to mining and other sorts of resource extraction activities. O'Reilly talks to me about their general work around mining, about their interventions related to the remediation of the toxic Giant Mine goldmine, about the process around the proposed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline, and about some of the specific features of being an environmentalist in the far north.

To learn more about Alternatives North, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.

You can also learn more about ways to listen or go to the show's page on To learn more about suggesting grassroots groups and organizations for future shows, click here. For details on the show's theme music, click here.

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

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