I used to wonder what people meant when they described someone as having “character”. After getting to know so many past and present Northport Washington residents I finally understand.
Character is not just a single attribute in a person. It is a single word used to describe many attributes that defines who that person is. Hard work, loyalty, honesty, integrity, and decency are some of the attributes I have seen in each of them, and through each of them I have learned what it means to have character.
For decades Teck and the EPA’s unfair, dishonest and self-serving treatment of this community contributed to the many health issues generations of the residents have heroically endured.
The EPA’s lies, denials and for the most part silence was just as toxic to the people as was Teck’s pollution.
Both Teck and the EPA denied them their health and safety by denying them the simple truth, which would have at least given them a fighting chance to protect themselves.
Through it all the one thing they couldn’t take from the individuals of Northport was their character.
Past and present residents could fight to finally hold Teck and the EPA accountable. Instead they have taken on the accountability themselves by participating in studies designed to discover if their illnesses were triggered or caused by their chronic exposure to specific heavy metal toxins. They participate in these studies because of the probability their involvement will result in information needed to protect future generations from enduring the health problems they deal with day in and day out.
That takes character.
– Jamie Paparich