A fight for homeland

‘From Hiroshima to Fukushima’ illustrates the history of nuclear desecration

By Candyce Paul

Sam Kerson first approached us nearly a decade ago offering to share some linocut prints with us. At that time we, the Committee for Future Generations, were embattled by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. We are the Poplar/Aspen Tree Home Dene (English River First Nation).  The Nuclear waste management Organization was soliciting us to allow them to build a nuclear waste dump on our traditional territory.  

Our Committee for Future Generations was in a campaign to raise awareness across Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world about the serious risks we were facing. We had walked and talked, and used social media, camped and gathered, and brought in experts. Our idea was to show the people that we were struggling against the industrial military complex. Our very DNA was on the line. We stood to protect the next 7000 Generations of all living things.

Liar Liar, by Sam Kerson, from the book, From Hiroshima to Fukushima

It is usually our duty to care for the Earth and to support 7 generations ahead of us. However in the case of the radioactivity generated by the nuclear industry, we must protect 7000 generations. The radioactive elements being created today will be hazardous to humans and other species for 7000 generations of life on this planet. We went toe to toe with the sales brokers the industry sent to pitch this glorified waste dump. We exposed their gaps and their outright lies and propaganda at every opportunity. In 2014 they admitted defeat and left Saskatchewan to try to find a willing “host” community in Ontario. 

But we continue defending our people. Our territory has some of the highest grade uranium deposits in the world. More than 2700 mineral claims are on file, primarily intending to mine uranium,   There are currently 5 uranium mines and 2 mills in our territory and 2 other companies are in the preliminary stages of applying for a licence to mine. Until this industry is shut down neither us, nor people in the places where the yellow cake is distributed  will be safe.  

Uranium mining began in Saskatchewan in the 1950s to fuel NATO nuclear weapons. Our people warned them not to touch the Black Rock, for we knew the spirit of this rock would cause sickness, death and destruction if it ever was allowed to surface from under the ground. They did not heed the knowledge of our Elders. For 70 years they have been bringing the Black Rock  into the light of day and it has wrought great havoc on this planet. 

World Peace March, 1982, by Sam Kerson, from the book, From Hiroshima to Fukushima

These engineers and scientists that played god with the atom unleashed a terrible power which they arrogantly thought they would find a way to control. Seven decades later they have no solution to containing the power they have unleashed. Just because they have the knowledge and the ability to undo a piece of creation, does not mean they should. 

They are proposing undeveloped experimental technology they call Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactors as a response to climate change. This green-washing attempt in Canada is delaying any real effort to mitigate climate chaos as there will be no operational SMRs for at least 10 years. Again the nuclear industry is targeting remote Indigenous communities as a place where this falsely painted “clean energy source” will replace diesel generators. The only thing is, there is not one Indigenous community in this country that can afford an SMR. So this too is a lie.

What we see here  is a thinly veiled attempt to open access to resources that are on those First Nations and Inuit lands by offering an electricity source for resource extraction. Again they have no plan for containing the nuclear waste they generate except deep in a hole on some other First Nations’ territory.  

We will defend our generations, as in the image “LIAR LIAR”, a portrait of one of our Indigenous women from Committee for Future Generations, as she holds the imperious President of the nuclear regulator in Canada by the scruff of the neck, castigating him and holding him to account for perpetuating nuclear lies.

Long ago, a grandmother was walking in the forest with her granddaughter. Up ahead she saw a black rock protruding from the ground. She gasped and ran to it and sat down on it. With tears rolling down from her eyes, she told her grandchild to go back to the people and tell them never to come there. The Black Death Rock was never supposed to come up from the ground. The grandmother knew it was her duty to cover the rock with her own body to keep it from harming the people. 

Rainbow Warrior, by Sam Kerson, from the book, From Hiroshima to Fukushima

We must now be like that grandmother and do all that we can to protect the future generations from the cor-pirate greed. It is imperative that we “STOP CAMECO” and all of their competitors who take no responsibility for the collateral damage caused by their “product”, whether for the war machine or  electrical generation. These companies and their friends, the nuclear regulators, set safety standards that help them deny their culpability in the harm they cause to the environment and to the people where they operate. They promise prosperity and deliver illness, suffering, and early death instead. Our lands and waters are  left desecrated, toxic, and radioactive.

For many of us, the fight continues. There will be no peace. There will be no safety. There will be no healthy ability to thrive as long as the nuclear industry is allowed to play with the building blocks of the universe, the atom. 

We say, Ku t’ah ! ,  (Enough)!

Sam Kerson at work (photo courtesy of his website)

Sam Kerson and Katah, have created a historical view of the nuclear industry from its inception of de-creating the uranium atom, to its use in atomic bombs and weapons. They have highlighted the hazards and disasters that have characterized the nuclear energy industry.  Their unique perspective stems from decades of responding to the often terrible and horrifying impacts of the nuclear experiment.

Masi cho Sam! Masi cho Katah! We welcome this book of your thought provoking art to share in our fight to preserve our homelands and that of every living being on this Earth. We salute you for all the many years you have endeavoured to do the same. Let the pictures speak for themselves. 

This essay serves as the introduction to the book, Hiroshima to Fukushima. The Road to Self Destruction, by Sam Kerson, published by his partner, Katah. Sam and Katah are also founders of Dragon Dance Theatre “where social issues, human rights, and collective creation are at the heart of each and every project.”

Headline photo: Uranium City, northern Saskatchewan, by Tim Beckett/Wikimedia Commons

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