Questioning Mine Mill in Yellowknife: The Need for a Nothern Labour History


  • Chris Powell


This article chronicles the contributions of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers to the social, political and economic development of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and particularly its capital Yellowknife. A remote region with a largely Aboriginal population, the emergence of a gold mining industry around Yellowknife Bay starting in the mid-1930s led to the arrival of Mine Mill activists within less than a decade. The union’s strong ties to the Communist Party at the time left a limited radical imprint upon northern working-class development. The union contributed to community and regional development, while at the same time fighting a losing battle against a right-wing Canadian labour movement. The demise of Mine Mill in the North, and throughout Canada, came at a time when the labour movement both regionally and nationally began its transition from being primarily industrially-based to one grounded in the public service.






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