RAVEN team members Tracy Glynn and Daniel Tubb visited Sarah Blenis and Cheryl Johnson in Upham, New Brunswick on May 24. Sarah and Cheryl are at the forefront of organizing residents’ concerns with the proposed Hammond River Holdings gypsum mine.
Sarah’s parents moved to Upham in the 1980s and she has lived in the community all her life. Cheryl is a newcomer from Ontario, who has spent almost two decades in the area. The women share a love of the Hammond River, its mountains, and its forests. The only meat Cheryl and her family eats is the rabbit, deer, and partridge she and her family hunt.
Cheryl opened a binder and revealed an archive of editions of The Brief, the NB Media Co-op’s monthly printed broadsheet publication. The June edition of The Brief will feature a story about how Upham residents are concerned about a gypsum mine owned by J.D. Irving, which threatens local wetlands, the Hammond River, and the quality of life of rural residents.
Both women have studied the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the mine and are concerned that how the project is being granted loopholes by the province. Experts, who have reviewed other EIAs, have expressed their own concerns. The NB Media Co-op broke a story two weeks ago about how Upham residents are under surveillance by the RCMP over their concerns around the proposed mine.
Over a sun room table, the four discussed ways that RAVEN could support storytelling in rural New Brunswick. Watch for details of a storytelling workshop by RAVEN in nearby Hampton in late June.
After the meeting, Cheryl drove Tracy and Daniel to the entrance to the site of the proposed mine, a location which has been clearcut, and which is surrounded by stunning mountains, forests, wetlands and rural dwellers.
Will J.D. Irving get their way once more, or will Upham residents who don’t want the mine be able to stop it? What is clear is that Upham residents have chosen to raise their voices in an effort to protect their community.