Stuart Schmidt is the past president of the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association.
The nomination of Trondek-Klondike for UNESCO world heritage designation is a contentious subject and I am concerned that it is causing a rift within the membership of the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association (KPMA) and among the placer mining community at large. I would like to try to explain why I support the UNESCO nomination even though there may be no immediate or apparent benefit to gold miners or our organization.
I have not forgotten 2003 when the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans cancelled the Yukon Placer Authorization and we were faced with the prospect of most of us not being able to operate any longer or only being able to operate in a very limited fashion in only a few areas. I was truly grateful for all the people in the Yukon who came out and voiced their support for placer mining both in Dawson and across the territory.
I was and continue to be especially grateful to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. They came out fully in support of all of us and they carry a lot of political clout. This I have not forgotten and to this day I feel indebted to them for their support during those challenging times.
They could have easily just stood idly by and watched the end of our industry and way our life, but instead they vocally supported placer mining. When TH first came to KPMA asking us to support the nomination, I really tried to avoid the issue because I saw it as a liability for the mining community.
It eventually came to the point where the government of the day told us that if we did not support the project they would not support it. We were faced with the burden of killing this nomination or helping our neighbors and friends — the very people who helped us in spades in 2003 — and I felt that we needed to return this favor and that we should do it in such a way that minimized the potential downside for the mining community.
For the rest of this column: https://www.yukon-news.com/opinion/dont-let-dawson-citys-unesco-debate-pit-miner-against-miner/