On the 30th anniversary of September 18, 1992
Thirty years ago, on the morning of September 18, 1992, an explosion underground at Yellowknife’s Giant Mine killed nine people.
I’m Ollie, Cabin Radio’s editor. While there will be people reading this who were in Yellowknife at the time, I’m one of the many people who arrived in the three decades since and simply can’t imagine the city on the day.
Today, our thoughts are with everyone the tragedy touched, from the loved ones and friends of those killed to the people who experienced what was, by all accounts, a divisive, hostile and harrowing environment for months if not years.
I can’t know what Yellowknife was like then, and I’m aware that many Yellowknife residents who lived here in 1990s have no desire to be reminded of it, or to talk about it.
But I do want to draw your attention to a podcast published by CBC North this week, titled Giant: Murder Underground.
Hosted by Rachel Zelniker and produced by Peter Sheldon, the podcast – in its three episodes to date – makes extraordinary use of the CBC’s radio archive to provide the best account possible, if you weren’t there, of what Yellowknife and Giant Mine were like in the months leading up to the killing of those nine people.
(Zelniker and Sheldon say the book Dying for Gold – by Lee Selleck, a Yellowknife journalist at the time – was a huge help in producing the podcast.)
At times, the series is brutally hard listening. There are moments of extreme anger and fear captured by broadcast crews at the time, alongside emotionally charged recollections even decades after the events. Those moments are presented with care and sensitivity in episodes that explore the complexities of what happened at Giant and in Yellowknife.
If, like me, you arrived in the North much later and want to understand a crucial period in the history of Yellowknife, download the series via the CBC’s website.
Listening to the podcast, the work of journalists in early 1990s Yellowknife must have been extremely difficult, attempting to robustly and fairly cover a series of volatile and, at times, violent events.
Yellowknife in 2022 may not be as divided as it was in 1992 but the world, more generally, is now a polarized and angry place, particularly online.
Now, as then, we need to take great care to ensure that what we publish is not only accurate and comprehensive but, to the best of our ability, considerate, balanced and nuanced.
We’ll continue to work at that. Today, we mourn the lives of Vern Fullowka, Norm Hourie, Chris Neill, Joe Pandev, Shane Riggs, Robert Rowsell, Arnold Russell, Malcolm Sawler, and David Vodnoski.