First Nations Speak at Kemess North Hearings Under Protest: Call on Governments to Protect Environment and Act Honourably

Tse Keh Nay
Takla First Nation ~ Tsay Keh Dene ~ Kwadacha First Nation
#345-1460 Sixth Ave., Prince George, B.C. V2L 3N2

For Immediate Release

The Tse Keh Nay (Takla, Tsay Keh Dene, and Kwadacha First Nations) have called on the Prime Minister and Premier of B.C. to involve First Nations more substantively in decisions about mining developments. In a letter to the Prime Minister and Premier, they say they will participate in the joint Federal-Provincial Panel on the proposed Kemess North Mine, in Tse Keh Nay Territory, B.C., but it will be under protest.

"We acknowledge that the Panel has agreed to a ceremony to open the Hearings in Prince George but the Environmental Assessment process is still a long way from meaningful involvement of First Nations in decision-making" stated Chief John French of Takla. All of the Chiefs are frustrated that the Hearings have already begun and we still do not have a funding agreement and a separate consultation and accommodation process in place. The Chiefs are also asking whether there can be any real assessment of alternatives when Northgate Minerals insists there only is one option: destroying Amazay (Duncan Lake).

The Chiefs are also frustrated that the governments are not following their legal obligations to consult and accommodate First Nations and do not even appear to be following their own environmental laws. The governments and company are leaving it to First Nations to try and protect the environment and the water.

"The Tse Keh Nay people are extremely concerned about impacts on the watershed," stated Grand Chief Pierre. "Why don’t government and industry learn anything from the past? Our people were already flooded out by the Williston Dam. That whole lake is poisoned by mercury now. This must not happen again. We won’t allow the top part of the watershed to be poisoned by Kemess North now.” The Chiefs emphasize the fear and distrust in the First Nation communities. “Our people don't believe it is possible to keep all that poison contained in a dam at the top of the watershed. The company will make their millions and leave and we’ll be left wondering when the dam will fail and poison the rest of our water."

"We must all work together for a sustainable economic and environmental solution for the Kemess North proposal and for all mining projects," said Chief French. "We believe a workable solution can be found, but it must be joint solution meaningful input and participation from the Tse Keh Nay. The Premier made commitments to a New Relationship and shared decision-making with First Nations. It’s time to see those good commitments on major projects like this where the potential impacts on our aboriginal rights and our Territory are extremely high."

Contact: Chief John French (250) 613-9150