Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on August 2, 2012

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a city of 350,000. The bomb instantly killed a third of the population, most of them civilians. Three days later, it dropped another atomic bomb, this time on Nagasaki. It too killed tens of thousands of people. In both cities, many more would be dead by the year’s end, as a result of injuries and radiation poisoning.


Canada has never produced an atomic bomb itself, despite having the technical ability to do so. However, Canada’s nuclear record is not innocent. Indeed, Canada has been very much involved in the nuclear arms industry from the beginning.

1942–1969: TRADING ATOMS

  • Canada started trading atoms in 1942 when it joined the US nuclear bomb effort known as the Manhattan Project, providing scientific skill and uranium to US weapons laboratories.  
  • Canada was the primary source of the uranium used in making the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The uranium came from Port Radium, North West Territories, and was refined at Port Hope, Ontario.
  •  Between 1945 and 1969, Canada was the main supplier of uranium for the Cold War atomic arsenals of the US and Britain. According to one estimate, Saskatchewan uranium alone was used to produce 27,000 American nuclear weapons.

In 1970, Canada signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Officially, Canada now exports uranium exclusively for the generation of electricity. However, much of that uranium, whether exported raw or as fuel in a nuclear reactor, ends up being used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.


  • In 1974, India used a Canadian nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for its first atomic bomb. The reactor, a forerunner of the CANDU reactor, was a gift to India from Canada. India now has between 40 and 95 nuclear weapons.
  • India’s nuclear success set off a nuclear arms race with Pakistan. In 1998, Pakistan was able to detonate its first atomic explosion also using plutonium from a Canadian nuclear reactor. The on-going tension between India and Pakistan poses one of the greatest risks of nuclear war in the world today.
  •  Canada has already sold CANDU nuclear reactors to Argentina, China, India, Pakistan, Romania, and South Korea. CANDU produces larger volumes of plutonium than other commercial reactors. Every CANDU reactor that has been sold has been heavily subsidized by Canadian taxpayers.
  •  In 2011, the federal government sold CANDU to SNC-Lavalin.


  • Saskatchewan is Canada’s only producer of uranium. Our province accounts for 20% of world production.
  • Most of Saskatchewan uranium is exported to the United States.
  • This uranium is the initial source of much, if not all, of the depleted uranium currently being used by the US military for the production of depleted uranium weaponry–bullets and rockets coated with depleted uranium, making them dense enough to penetrate tank armour and concrete underground bunkers. 
  • On impact, depleted uranium bursts into flame, releasing tiny radiation particles that contaminate all living things and the environment with deadly radiation.  
  • A form of low-level nuclear warfare, depleted uranium weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction under international law. Their demonstrated public health effects include cancer, immune system failings, kidney damage, and birth defects.
  • The US has used depleted uranium weaponry in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo. 
  • Earlier this year, the federal government made a trade deal with China which will allow Cameco, the world’s third largest uranium producer, to sell uranium to China.


67 years after the nuclear desolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the proliferation of nuclear weapons continues. This is despite the fact that all but 4 countries (India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea) are parties to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

By exporting uranium and nuclear reactors, Canada, one of the original signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has played a key role in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Here are two other ways in which Canada undermines the logic of the treaty:  

  • Canada is never critical of US use of depleted uranium in wars, not even those wars in which Canada is also involved as an ally.
  • Hypocritically, Canada regularly calls for new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, but it never asks Israel to give up its sizable, undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons or to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


With us at the vigil today are the Singers of the Sacred Web.

We invite you to join in the Elm Dance.

From its Latvian roots this intimate folk song has grown into the Elm Dance and is danced by circles of activists around the world, from Novozybkov, 100 miles downwind from Chernobyl, to the uranium mines of northern Saskatchewan.  

Danced with reverence for human and more than human life, and in solidarity with trees who breathe in what we breathe out, the dance begins always with the dancers saying together this statement of intention: ’We do this dance as a way of strengthening our intention to participate in the healing of this beloved planet,  its humans and all beings.’  

On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima we dedicate this dance to all places and beings damaged by uranium mining, nuclear weapons, and nuclear power generation.



  1. Roger said

    Your comments about depleted uranium are extensive and primarily false. There is no need for any Canadian uranium to created depleted uranium, which is only used in kinetic energy penetrators and armor. The amount of DUF6 still stored at the US Department of Energy’s sites will fulfill the need for conversion to DU metal for dozens if not hundreds of years. DU was most likely never used in Afghanistan. DU has not caused birth defects or health effects, but there has been a massive propaganda campaign that Saddam Hussein started because he did not like his tanks being destroyed by a single shot fired well beyond the range of the Iraqi tank’s being able to shoot back and because he wanted out from under the UN Sanctions. You have fallen for the same basic lies that have been travelling around the internet ever since about 1992. You should check out what the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) international scientific teams found in field and laboratory research in Kosovo, Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found in Kuwait and the World Health Organization has found as well. None of these international organizations that extensively sampled battlefield areas where DU penetrators had been fired (the only type of penetrator fired in the Balkans was the 30mm round fired by the A10; tank fired 105mm and 120mm penetrators were also found in Kuwait) found any health or environmental effects. Write DUStory dash owner at yahoogroups dot com for further information.

  2. Roger said

    Point 1 of your false claim states – •”This uranium is the initial source of much, if not all, of the depleted uranium currently being used by the US military for the production of depleted uranium weaponry–bullets and rockets coated with depleted uranium, making them dense enough to penetrate tank armour and concrete underground bunkers”

    No currently produced Canadian uranium is required to produce depleted uranium metal.
    No rockets use depleted uranium
    Depleted uranium is not used to coat anything.
    Depleted uranium is not used in any bombs and is not used to penetrate concrete underground bunkers

    Depleted Uranium kinetic energy penetrators were developed in the mid-70’s because no other tested material wouild penetrate then modern Soviet tank armor. A kinetic energy penetrator is a small diameter, sharp pointed, very dense, very hard metal rod that is fired at high velocity from a tank or aircraft cannon. Most of these penetrators are probably substantially intact.

    You can read about the 1970’s testing of DU against other metals here

    Advantages & Disadvantages of Depleted Uranium and Tungsten Alloy (1980)
    Discussion of anti-armor munitions from WW-II AP steel shot through the DU-Titanium Alloy Kinetic Energy Penetrator

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