Dairy Queen provided all the food for a rally held Tuesday at Boitanio Park in support of Mount Polley Mine and its laid off workers.

Dairy Queen provided all the food for a rally held Tuesday at Boitanio Park in support of Mount Polley Mine and its laid off workers.

Unemployed workers focus of mine rally

An estimated 300 people attended a rally in Boitanio Park Tuesday in support of reopening Mount Polley Mine.

An estimated 300 people attended a rally in Boitanio Park Tuesday in support of reopening Mount Polley Mine.

The rally was held on the anniversary of the mine disaster Aug. 4, 2014 that spilled millions of cubic metres of tailings and water into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake instantly closing the mine.

“When we found out there was absolute shock,” said United Steeworkers Local 1-425 president Paul French. “No one could believe it had happened and the devastation it actually did. When I first went out there I thought ‘holy moly this can never get cleaned up’ but it did.”

French credited Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s efforts, insisting a lot of the remediation work would have never happened without her.

“When the breach happened there was a USW convention in Las Vegas and there was no expertise around to help me out so I called Donna,” French said.

The two met with Premier Christy Clark and secured a commitment from Imperial Metals, Mount Polley Mine and the government to have the employees of the mine do the remediation work.

“With that the cleanup started, all the fears of the contamination got cured, and while we’re not going to know what all the doomsday fears will be for another four years, we believe right now everything is going as planned.”

The amount of work done by the employees to restore Hazeltine Creek is overwhelming, French added.

“They went from mining to almost being landscapers.”

It is still difficult for the workers who have kept their jobs because so many have been laid off, he added.

“This rally today is to let people in our area know that people are still not employed and the mine itself has an impact on all the communities around us.”

French also emphasized the role of the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands in the aftermath of the spill.

“They are the group sitting out there being the watch dogs to make sure government is doing what it’s supposed to be doing and that Mount Polley Mine does what it says it’s going to do,” French said.

With the First Nations, who have no bias except to protect the land, watching what’s being done, the mine can restart, he added.

The idea for the rally was proposed by Adrian Monks, a laid off equipment operator from the mine.

“I came up with the idea but I didn’t do all the work,” Monks said. “I would like to thank everyone for coming out, this beats my expectations by a long shot.”

Monks thanked Dairy Queen for the food, Cariboo GM for the barbecues, and union workers for helping serve up free hamburgers, hotdogs and dessert to everyone in attendance.

The band Busted Remedy also played.

“We are here to support 200 unemployed mine workers and we want everybody to go back to work as quickly and safely as possible,” Monks said.

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said it has been a privilege to work hand in hand with the mine, the ministries and the union.

“The Ministry of Mines and Environment staff have been on top of this mine because they realize how important it is to the environment, the economy and the families,” Barnett said.

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes commended Mayor Walt Cobb for his “spectacular” job sending the message that the Cariboo region needs the jobs at the mine.

“We need the rest of the folks working,” Oakes said. “We are prepared to make sure we are committed to working alongside with you, making sure we are protecting the environment, but making sure the rest of B.C. knows in the Cariboo we need these jobs.”

Organizers said they served about 320  hamburgers and dozens of hotdogs, and estimated between 300 to 400 people came and went through the two hours.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Tribune file photo)
Roses to Good Samaritans who helped me during theft

It restores one’s faith in human nature

Maggie Ferguson continues to deliver pet food to communities in B.C’s Central Interior and North. She hopes to make things easier by eventually purchasing a truck and trailer through fundraising efforts. (Perfect Pastures Animal Sanctuary Facebook photo)
From Delta with love, Maggie Ferguson helps northern pet owners with food

Animal sanctuary owner leads efforts in delivering thousands of pounds of pet food

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale, owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

Most Read