KAMLOOPS, BC--(Marketwired - July 18, 2016) - Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation's unrelenting and clear demand to meet with the Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Honourable Catherine McKenna, came to fruition last week. SSN has continuously raised concern about the current federal and provincial process regarding the environmental assessment process for the proposed KGHM-Ajax mine, given the current inadequacies of the Canadian Environmental Assessment and BC Environmental Assessment processes. With the request for a full environmental assessment of the project denied, Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) has been required to undertake a precedent setting and North American historic first project assessment review process regarding the proposed KGHM-Ajax open pit mine.
In the face-to-face meeting with Minister McKenna, SSN Leadership shared about their in-depth project assessment process that looks at the project through scientific study and drawing from invaluable traditional knowledge keepers' wisdom and perspectives and community consultation. The SSN project assessment was 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.
Environmentally, as part of the 1% remaining intact mid-elevation grassland in British Columbia, the area is home to red and blue listed species of both animals and plants. In addition, Pípsell (Jack Lake) is home to a historically unique remnant native variety of trout.
According to ethnobiological and anthropological 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. The significance of the area is deeply rooted in the epic oral history titled in English "The Trout Children" which explains the deeds of Indigenous (Secwepemc) people to the land known as Pípsell (Jacko Lake). The narrative embodies Secwepemc stsq'ey' (Indigenous laws) and provides the foundation for ownership and stewardship of Secwepemc lands and resources.
With both Canada and Poland fully embracing the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People (UNDRIP), SSN calls on the two states to respect the requirement to ensure that the free, prior, and informed consent of the SSN regarding any decision around Jacko Lake and surrounding area.
As KGHM is a state owned company, SSN has been in communication with the Polish Ambassador to Canada and has insisted that the Government of Poland direct its KGHM Polska Miedz SA Supervisory and Management Board to uphold commitments under UNDRIP. In addition, SSN has requested a meeting with Polish Ambassador the Honourable Mr. Marcin Bosacki to discuss the development of a Nation-to-Nation relationship with SSN regarding the proposed KGHM Ajax Mine project.
Tk'emlúps te Secwepemc Chief Fred Seymour
"As stated to Minister McKenna as part of our face-to-face meeting, we are demanding that the federal government undertake discussions on a nation-to-nation basis to ensure that Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation is fully involved in the Federal Government's comprehensive review of the Environmental Assessment, National Energy Board, Navigable Waters and Fisheries Acts through the appointment of a federal negotiator and providing the financial resources for meaningful consultation and engagement."
Skeetchestn Chief Ron Ignace
"As stewards of the territory under consideration, we have a responsibility to our future generations to seek meaningful consultation and ensuring our place as a decision maker at the table. Stk'emlúpsemc te Secwepemc has called for a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to our Secwepemc laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems in order to obtain our free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting our lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People articles 18, 27, and 32."