2020 WMAN Conference
Led by the Indigenous Caucus, in October 2020, WMAN held our first ever virtual conference, titled “Addressing Mining and Systemic Racism: Staying Connected During a Pandemic,” in lieu of the regularly scheduled in-person biennial conference. Participation took place over two weeks and was open to WMAN participants and other members of the public. The virtual conference was co-hosted with Local Environmental Action Demanded (LEAD Agency), a WMAN participant organization whose mission is community education about environmental concerns in Northeast Oklahoma. LEAD agency is a past recipient of the IEN-WMAN Mining Mini-Grant program for its work on the Tar Creek Superfund site.
Approximately 270 people registered for the conference sessions, which were recorded and are available to view online from LEAD Agency’s Facebook page, see:
For a list of Conference speakers and bios, see:
Goals for the virtual conference included:
- Building the capacity of community leaders and advocates
- Increasing the layperson’s knowledge of mining-related issues
- Promoting cross-cultural collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and organizations
- Strengthening the WMAN network
Topics included water pollution remediation, risk assessments, and Superfund; tailings impoundment failures and mine safety issues; mining’s health and social impacts; mining and racism; social isolation and the pandemic; the impacts of covid on regulations, decision-making processes, and environmental protection; and government and industry’s use of covid to further resource extraction. The conference also had a virtual tour of the Tar Creek Superfund site in Oklahoma.
2018 WMAN Conference
Uniting for Healthier Lands, Waters and Future Generations, with host the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation, was held in Kamloops BC, Canada Sept. 27-29 at Thompson Rivers University. Nearly 200 delegates from the USA and Canada met for two days in Kamloops, B.C. to share knowledge about the increasing impacts of industrial mining, and to seek solutions to more effectively protect the environment and affected communities.
Over 40 invited speakers, experts, scientists, Indigenous, labour, environmental, and grassroots organizations provided the latest information on the development of mining impacts, regulations and policies in the US and Canada. Topics addressed included human health, water pollution, environmental assessments, perpetual care of mine wastes, financial securities for site clean-up, transparency and tax fairness, compliance and enforcement, gender impacts, and more.
The conference program also included tours of the Highland Valley Copper Mine, which is the largest copper mine in North America, and the Mount Polley mine area that was affected in 2014 by the massive tailings impoundment collapse and spill into the Quesnel Lake and River Watershed.
2016 WMAN Conference
The 2016 WMAN Biennial Conference titled “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Protecting Water, Traditional Cultures, and Landscapes in a Changing Climate” was held November 17-19 in San Carlos, AZ. Over 160 people attended from across the U.S. and Canada.
The conference addressed issues of concern to leaders and concerned citizens working to protect their communities from the impacts of mining. Lectures and discussions led by technical and legal experts provided the latest information on mining technologies, impacts, regulations, and policies, while special sessions were held to train community-based organizers, share tactics, and develop strategies to reform mining practices. Experts included those in mining and engineering; hydrology, geochemistry, and water quality; federal and state regulations and laws; indigenous laws and treaty rights; US and Canadian politics; grassroots organizing and more.
Conference themes included: mining and climate change; water’s importance to communities; US mining reform and the prevention of mining disasters; International trade agreements issues; Indigenous Peoples’ rights, environmental justice, and health issues associated with mining; safeguarding environmental and legal protections; and Southwest regional issues. A tour of Oak Flat and the site of the proposed Resolution Copper mine (Rio Tinto) was part of the activities.
2014 WMAN Conference
View Agenda Here
The WMAN biennial conference was held May 8-11 in Anchorage, Alaska. Approximately 125 attendees participated in workshops, plenary sessions and networking. Tribes, community organizers, attorneys, researchers/ scientists, activists and conservation groups were represented, bringing together expertise and communities in need to strategize about the challenges facing those impacted by mining.
Workshops and plenary topics included: Transboundary issues, Indigenous perspectives, communications/ media training, tools for researching mining companies, new technologies in water protection, water law and regulation, organizing against uranium, mercury emissions, coal mining, and marine ecosystem protection.
Some highlights from the event:
- Nearly half of the participants represented Indigenous tribes and First Nations from across North America
- Sixty participants were from Alaska
- A tour of the Matanuska Valley’s proposed coal mine sites, hosted by Chickaloon Village Traditional Council, Mat Valley Coalition, Alaskans First Campaign, Castle Mountain Coalition
- Caucuses generated increased participation in WMAN list serves, strengthening organization on regional issues
- The Indigenous Caucus dedicated an additional Steering Committee seat to an Alaskan Indigenous member
- WMAN hosts a biennial (every other year) conference in locations around the US and Canada. WMAN gatherings provide an excellent venue for technical training, increasing skills, exchanging information on company track records, networking, and strategizing with the goal of improving mining industry performance and protecting communities and the environment. Traditionally, 100-150 citizens from across the continent attend.
WMAN strives for as large and diverse a group of conference participants as possible within our financial means. We prioritize participants who:
- are or have been directly or indirectly affected by mining, or
- are residents in communities that are dealing with mining related issues, or
- work on issues related to mining (e.g., health, socio-economic, legal, labor, environment)
The eighth biennial WMAN conference was held September 23-25, 2011 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. We are most grateful to the First Nations’ leadership of the Prince Albert Grand Council for their generous grant to WMAN which funded a significant portion of that conference. Everyone needing financial assistance to attend the 2011 conference received support. About 120 people attended the conference and more than two-thirds traveled with the support of a scholarship supported through our local hosts and other WMAN fundraising.
The theme of the 2011 WMAN conference was “Working Together as One: Sustaining Water, Culture and Healthy Communities.” Consistent with that theme, the conference featured a wide variety of panels and discussion topics associated with uranium mining, protecting water resources, and indigenous/cultural issues associated with mineral resource extraction. Indigenous leaders represented almost half of the total participants.
As in past years, the 2011 conference provided technical support and training sessions. Mining engineers, hydrologists, chemists, wildlife biologists, legal experts, and regional citizen leaders presented on best practices and future standards for the mining industry. Resource Media presented a media training session. Particular attention was given to a track of activities for young people and other newcomers to mining issues.
One feature of most WMAN conferences is a tour of a mine site near the conference location. Most of the tours are accessed by ground transportation from the primary conference location. At the 2011 Prince Albert conference, participants were offered a unique opportunity to fly by private plane over uranium mine sites and to visit with nearby communities in the Wollaston Lake area. The purpose of this visit was to share perspectives on the impacts of uranium mining and, in particular, to discuss common issues for indigenous communities across the continent dealing with this type of mining.