There was a large turnout at a rally in Williams Lake supporting laid-off employees from the Mt Polley mine one year following the breach of its tailings dam Wednesday evening in Boitanio Park.
Former equipment operator Adrian Monks who spearheaded the rally says he came up with the idea as a way of saying thank you to his coworkers whom he credits for saving his life in an incident back in April of 2014.
“It was two days later when my coworkers were very insistent that the authorities get into the hotel room and find out what has happened to me-they were really concerned,” he says.
“As it turns out they basically saved my life and I was diagnosed with cerebral meningitis and they figured I was probably 5 to 10 minutes away from dying. My coworkers came and brought my son $1500 so he had a place to stay while he was camping out in his car in the parking lot.”
Monks, who currently lives in Vancouver, says some of his colleagues have already left the community and found employment elsewhere, adding that the longer the wait continues more will likely do the same which upsets him.
He goes on to say that the support from the community was incredible.
“I mentioned it on the internet and that’s all I had to do and so many people jumped on board-Dairy Queen supplying hamburgers, the Steelworkers, and Jess Lively in particular from Diamonds and Dust she just threw everything into it,” he says.
“This whole thing was organized in like two hours.”
The rally which also featured a live band saw the local area MLAs, federal Conservative Candidate for the Cariboo Prince George riding Todd Doherty, as well as Mayor Walt Cobb in attendance.
Another rally meanwhile that had also taken place at the same time but at the entrance of the Mt. Polley mine site and organized by the Secwepemc Women Warrior Society drew condemnation from Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett.
“It’s a naysay-don’t go to work, don’t feed your family, don’t have hospitals, don’t have schools,” Barnett said.
“I’m sorry. I believe in standing for what is right and and for what is right; a healthy environment, healthy communities, and strong families.”
The mills at the Mt. Polley mine started to turn at 50% capacity about 30 minutes before each of the rallies officially got underway
200 workers still remain unemployed.