NorthCANADA 150

From arsenic to exile: 4 northern families on surviving Canada's 1st 150 years

Struggle and perseverance are the themes of CBC North's Canada 150 series

CBC News

July 01, 2017

Muriel Betsina's sons, Paul and Ernest, play with other children in Yellowknife in 1970. Betsina still worries about the fallout from the toxic arsenic Giant Mine spewed out of its stacks for years in her backyard. (NWTARCHIVES/Rene Fumoleau)

From arsenic to exile, the people of Northern Canada have had to contend with circumstances that, at times, threatened their very existence.

In our series inspired by Canada's 150 celebrations, we show how families of the North have not only survived, but thrived.

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Remembering Rocher River, the N.W.T. town that disappeared

(NWT Archives/Henry Busse)

Jimmy Thomson tells the story of the First Nations people of Rocher River, for whom the last 150 years marked both the development of a vibrant, modern community, and its much-lamented demise.


Yellowknife's toxic history through the eyes of the Betsina family

Dene elder Muriel Betsina says her life and the life of her family has been deeply affected by Yellowknife's former gold mines. (Hilary Bird/CBC News)

Hilary Bird brings home the impact of more than half a century of gold mining and 19,000 tonnes of toxic arsenic trioxide dust on the Betsina family, members of the Yellowknives Dene.


I am Ta'an Kwä​ch'än: How a Yukon First Nation came back from the brink

James Miller is a CBC producer based in Whitehorse. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

James Miller looks back into his own family and cultural history to learn more about his place moving forward as an Indigenous person, a Yukoner, and a Canadian.


'We called it 'Prison Island': Inuk man remembers forced relocation to Grise Fiord

A three-year-old Larry Audlaluk with his mother and father at their new home in what is now Grise Fiord, Nunavut. The forced relocation was very difficult for his family - his mother was constantly crying, he says, and his father died ten months after moving. (submitted by Larry Audlaluk)

Jane Sponagle recounts the forced relocation of Inuit to the High Arctic in the 1950s, and the impact the move had on Larry Audlalak and his family in the decades that followed.

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