CCQL 7 Campaign Day 4: HOME
In 2000 the Quesnel River Watershed Alliance created a video film “Eyes of the River” and debut it in all the main cities of the Cariboo Region. We wanted to better educate and inform people about the importance and the uniqueness of the place they lived. We also became involved with Rivershed Society and are still hosting annual paddles down the Fraser to bring awareness to the Fraser River and all it’s tributaries which include the Quesnel River Watershed. We did research, designed brochures for communication outreach. We held forestry conferences, slide shows and hosted many salmon festivals and hikes within the Quesnel Lake area.
When our kids were younger than school age, we went up the north arm of Quesnel Lake to split shakes with another couple. We spent a few years making a small income from our hard days in the wilderness. Our family then bought a cabin near Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake, where we spent all our summers swimming, boating and fishing. The kids all loved the cabin time and still take their young families there today. This lake was so pristine that we drank water right from the lake.
Mount Polley Mine site located between Bootjack Lake and Polley Lake continued to expand. This became more concerning for our group (QRWA) and our family… not only for the pristine water we were drinking from Quesnel Lake, but for the location of the site expansion up high in the mountain behind our cabin and many other cabins and houses of neighbors that live there year round.
There were about 18 of our family members (including me) at the cabin on that long weekend of August 4th 2014 when the disaster struck and an estimated 24 million cubic meters of Mt Polley toxic tailings material came crashing down the mountain, ripping out everything in its path and dumping into beautiful Quesnel Lake. The magnitude of this disaster was staggering. Anger and mistrust grew toward this mining company, and toward the government that should have put protection in place. Now 7 years later and this concern lingers with all who love this area.
At the very least this Mining Company “Imperial Metal” should not be operating without the best Water Treatment Plant available. Having direct pipes from the mine entering Quesnel Lake was not and should never be permitted into any body of water. There was an understanding in the Mt. Polley mining permit, that not a drop of this mines tailing material would ever enter Quesnel Lake. We need strong government policies for mining, governments that don’t give a pass for profit.
In 2002 I took the QRWA’s video “Eyes of the River” with me to a conference in California where it was shown one evening. People I didn’t even know were coming up to me and stating “I didn’t know a place like that still existed.” Our family’s cabin is now being passed down to the next generation.