BRITISH COLUMBIA – The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has weighed in to offer its support to the Gitxsan House of Nii Kyap, Takla Lake First Nation, Fort Connelly First Nation, Kwadacha First Nation and the Tsay Keh Dene First Nation, which collectively oppose NORTHGATE MINERALS’s proposed Kemess North mine. The announcement was made yesterday by Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
The Five Nations are collectively seeking participation in a tripartite review panel and the respective environmental assessment agencies of the federal and provincial government. The Five Nations believe that the proposed mine will adversely affect the biodiversity of their respective territories.
Chief Phillip stated, “As we have seen in the Haida and Taku River Tlingit decisions, the courts have recognized that the Province of British Columbia’s approach to consultation is fundamentally flawed. There exists an ‘enforceable, legal and equitable duty to consult’ to both the Provincial Crown and to third parties like Northgate Minerals. Courts are continually confirming that our Aboriginal Title and Rights exist and must be meaningfully and substantively addressed. The UBCIC firmly believes that this duty starts from the proposal stage and continues right through to the conclusion stage of any large-scale operation such as the Kemess North mine.”
Chief Phillip concluded, “We echo the comment of Justa Monk of the Five Nations that history tells First Nations that their interests, their rights and their title cannot be adequately accommodated by the existing review process. Only First Nations full involvement in all resource management decisions can ensure that. To the Campbell and Martin governments, open the door to the Five Nations instead of shutting them out.”
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs has offices in Vancouver and Kamloops, or visit www.ubcic.bc.ca.
Northgate had yet to respond at press time today, but undoubtedly the company will include the views of the Five Nations in their plans. (www.NorthgateExploration.ca)