BRITISH COLUMBIA – The Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) met with the federal minister of environment and climate change, Hon. Catherine McKenna, last week. SSN has raised concerns about the current federal and provincial process regarding environmental assessment of the proposed Ajax copper-gold mine near Kamloops.
The mine is a joint venture of Abacus Mining & Exploration (20%) of Vancouver and KGHM Polska Miedz (80% and operator) of Poland.
SSN leadership discussed with Minister McKenna their own assessment process developed to ensure that SSN cultural perspectives, knowledge and history were duly considered in the assessment and was built on the “principle of walking on two legs” – Secwepemc and western support. The process involves an innovative community engagement program modeled to reflect their traditional governance model, respecting the role of families in their two communities.
The SSN have concerns about preserving the area around Kamloops, part of the 1% remaining intact mid-elevation grassland in British Columbia. It is home to endangered and at risk species. In addition, Pípsell (Jacko Lake) is home to a historically unique remnant of native trout. According to research about the past and ongoing significance of the Jacko Lake area to the Secwepemc, this area meets the criteria as a cultural indigenous keystone place.
Having met with the Canadian environment minister, the SSN revealed that it has requested a nation-to-nation meeting with the Polish ambassador to Canada. The organization is demanding that KGHM Polska Miedz uphold commitments to the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People.
Both governments, the SSN insists, must respect the requirement to ensure that the free, prior, and informed consent of the SSN regarding any decision around Jacko Lake and surrounding area.
Go to the Abacus Mining website, www.AMEmining.com/s/Home.asp, for additional information about the Ajax project.