Blog Entry

Protect Jacko Lake and the Pípsell Cultural Area from Mining – Take Action Now!

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

The Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) in British Columbia is ramping up its #Me7ePipsellTa7aAjax (Yes Pípsell, No Ajax) campaign and is calling on the public, friends and allies to press the federal and provincial governments to respect SSN’s decision not to give its free, prior, informed consent for the proposed KHGM Ajax open-pit copper/gold mine in its territory.

With the support of MiningWatch Canada, SSN has launched a new web site and online action, Protect Pípsell, where the public can learn more about the cultural and ecological significance of this area, and why it is now being threatened by Polish-owned mining company KHGM. If approved, the project would irreversibly destroy 1,700 hectares of unique and fragile grasslands and waters on the edge of the City of Kamloops, which include Jacko Lake and the Pípsell Cultural and Heritage Area.

Sign on to support SSN's decision here.

The B.C. Minister of Environment, George Heyman, has until January 4, 2018 to make a final decision about this project. His federal counterpart, Catherine McKenna, has no fixed time limit to make her decision. The Ajax project has been jointly reviewed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.

When SSN's request for an independent panel review of the project was denied by CEAA in favour of a less-intensive Comprehensive Study process, SSN courageously undertook a historic, Indigenous-grounded assessment based in SSN laws, traditions, customs, and knowledge.

Throughout, this comprehensive assessment integrated Western and Indigenous knowledge. At the SSN Review oral panel hearing in May 2016, more than 80 scientific experts and Secwepemc knowledge keepers shared their findings and over 300 submissions were filed.

In March 2017, the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation announced it would not give its free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for the proposed Ajax Project:

The Ajax Mine Project in its proposed location at Pípsell is in opposition to the SSN land use objective for this profoundly sacred, culturally important, and historically significant cultural keystone site.

Our decision to preserve and sustain Pípsell and Jacko Lake is for the long-term benefit of all Canadians, ensuring the future enjoyment of this special place serves to further reconciliation, so that we may all be great and good.

SSN’s review concluded that the mine would damage air and water quality and irreversibly affect the Pípsell Cultural and Heritage Area. 

Experts also determined that the project was not viable under current and predicted copper prices, and that it represented a significant risk to investors, governments and the public.

Within weeks of SSN’s announcement, more than 30 organizations in B.C. and across Canada signed a declaration of support for the SSN’s review process and decision.

The City of Kamloops also passed a motion in July 2017 to officially oppose the project and reaffirmed its position in August and October 2017.

Meanwhile, in August 2017, CEAA and BCEAO jointly concluded that the project would have irreversible and significant adverse effects to SSN’s heritage and current use of the lands and resources – but also concluded that the project would not have significant adverse effects to the environment.

These two conclusions are simply irreconcilable to the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation.

Take Action Now

Many organizations have recently sent letters to the Ministers but SSN needs your support now more than ever (see SSN’s letter here, MiningWatch's letter here, and our 2-page summary of the issues here).

As the ministers weigh their final decision on the project, the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) is asking Indigenous and non-Indigenous friends, neighbours, and supporters to call on their MPs, MLAs and cabinet ministers:

  • to deny any certificate to the proposed Ajax open pit mine;
  • to work with SSN in protecting the Pípsell Cultural Area for the benefit of all Canadians and future generations; and
  • to reform the flawed and inadequate federal and provincial environmental assessment laws and processes, in accord with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

You can use this form on to send a brief letter to the federal minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, and the B.C. minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, to urge them to respect the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN)’s refusal to grant its free, prior, informed consent for the proposed Ajax open-pit copper/gold mine in its territory.

You can also call the Ministers or write your own letter for a bigger impact. Contact:

Hon. George Heyman
Minister, Environment and Climate Change Strategy,
Government of British Columbia
P.O. Box 9047 Stn Pov Govt
Rm 112, Parliament Buildings
Victoria BC  V8W 9E2
Tel: (250) 387-1187
Fax: (250) 387-1356
[email protected]

Hon. Catherine McKenna
Minister, Environment and Climate Change Canada
200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau, QC  K1A 0H3
Tel: (819) 938-3813
Fax: (819) 938-9431
[email protected]

Memo to B.C. & Federal Elected Representatives - Five Reasons Why B.C. and Canada Should Reject KHGM’s proposed Ajax open pit mine near Kamloops Letter to ministers Heyman and McKenna re: Ajax decision 2017-11-23 SSN Letter to Ministers: #Me7ePipsellTa7aAjax (Yes Pípsell, No Ajax) - Respecting the SSN’s Pípsell Decision 2017-10-23