Vern vs. the miners – by Robson Fletcher and Joel Dryden (CBC News – November 20, 2023)

Vern Emard is 62 years old but his age doesn’t show as he leads the way up a rickety plywood ramp. His boots clomp as he steps onto the metal roof of what he calls his “palapa” — a shelter that’s not quite a complete house — at a high point of land on his remote property north of Blairmore, in the southern Alberta Rockies.

From atop the roof, he gestures across the valley toward Grassy Mountain, its rocky peak protruding from an evergreen forest, dotted with yellow deciduous trees, into blue sky.

He enjoys showing this view to visitors but, personally, Emard prefers it a bit lower down, nestled among the trees along Gold Creek. It’s this part of the property where he and his father first built a cabin after buying the land in 1993. His father’s ashes are scattered nearby. One day, he wants the same for himself.

He spends more time in the palapa lately, as pack rats have taken up residence in the cabin. He hopes the building can be salvaged but it’s not his top priority at the moment. Lately, he’s had more pressing concerns. Emard has been representing himself in court against a high-powered Calgary law firm (one that counts former premier Jason Kenney among its senior advisors) hired by a coal company largely owned by Gina Rinehart, the richest person in Australia.

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