Mining is essential to the Yukon – not only for our economy as we face the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s part of our cultural identity.
It’s depicted on our license plate; it’s why we take visiting friends and family to Dawson City to enjoy a show at Gertie’s.
Mining’s presence and importance permeates the very bedrock of our daily lives.
On your way into Dawson, signs warn motorists of moose on the road because the gold fields host the healthiest moose population in the Yukon, thanks to mining, as it encourages willow growth and suppresses predation.
Perhaps on that same road trip you find yourself defending moose hunting in a debate with your southern visitors, who believe the practice is barbaric or that food magically comes pre-shrink-wrapped from the grocery store.
Mining often faces similar ignorance.
For example, gold responsibly mined in the territory is used in virtually every single electronic device we depend on, and in the context of COVID-19, our reliance on cellphones and computers keeps communities connected and informed while physically spacing.
Gold is also a fundamental component in advanced medical equipment, which may be required to treat our loved ones should they become severely infected by the virus.
What if the global supply chain is interrupted in the wake of the pandemic?
What if our fiat currency system collapses in a subsequent recession?
There’s a reason gold is the original standard for securing a nation’s finances.
Mining in the Yukon helps secure our future in an insecure world.
In a mere month, COVID-19 has already devastated many of the Yukon’s private sector businesses beyond recovery, so our territory’s historic overreliance on government jobs may actually serve us well in the short term, as it might limit the shutdown’s impact on our economy if some can still depend on government paycheques.
But the public sector isn’t entirely immune either.
If the measures required to stem the pandemic’s spread continue to limit business’ ability to generate tax revenue, the “non-essential” public servants previously sent home, with pay, may find themselves without pay, permanently, if governments are no longer able to make their own payroll.
Any job that puts food on your family's table is essential.
With no cruise ships coming in, seasonal business seeing their entire summer’s bookings disappear, air and highway travel restricted, and even government likely affected, how will many Yukoners survive?
Thankfully, with a weak Canadian dollar, the price of fuel at historic lows and gold at historic highs, the mining industry is well-placed to employ many whose previous careers are likely to be disrupted by the pandemic, from hydrologists to housekeepers to UFA implementation experts.
During the dirty thirties, many Canadians couldn’t obtain necessities such as flour to feed their families, yet alone relative luxuries such as sugar, whereas mining meant the Great Depression was only an expression in the Yukon.
Mining can be that essential provider again and together with Yukoners’ support, we can come out the other side of COVID-19.