BC Government Breaks the Law - Nak’azdli vows to stop Mt. Milligan mine

Nak’azdli Whut'en

P.O. Box 1329, Fort St. James, B.C.  V0J 1P0
Telephone (250) 996 – 7171
Fax (250) 996 – 8010

Nak’azdli today vowed to stop the Terrane Metals Mt. Milligan mine project on its traditional lands after learning the Provincial Government has continued to defy the courts and award permits and leases to the company without consulting the First Nation.

“Terrane is being advised to cease operations and leave the territory immediately,” said Chief Sam, who added Nak’azdli is calling on the support of all first Nations across BC and Canada to help protect Nak’azdli territory.

“We have been patient, we have been reasonable, but we will not be bulldozed. We will use all means at our disposal to bring attention to this issue,” said Chief Fred Sam. “What BC is doing is unacceptable and they will be challenged on their irresponsible, bad faith approaches toward us.”

Nak’azdli will be consulting with their elders and other community members on a strategy, but in the meantime Terrane Metals has been given notice to leave the area immediately.

For more than three years the Nak’azdli has attempted to address concerns with the environmental review process and the entire time the Province agreed to talk, but BC continued with its unilateral environmental assessment. In March 2009, without consulting the Nak’azdli, the Province provided the EA certificate to Terrane Metals.

The Province then stated they were open to government to government negotiations to resolve outstanding rights and title matters, but Nak’azdli believes that the Province has demonstrated bad faith and does not intend meaningful consultations.

Nak’azdli now finds itself with no option but to stop this project by all means at its disposal after learning that BC approved the Mines act permit for Mt. Milligan/Shus Nadloh on Sept. 8 and the following day approved the lease application.

“The BC Government has not respected court decisions and has failed to learn from the recent experience of the KI (Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug) in Ontario, it has blatantly avoided meaningful consultations as defined by the courts and ignored our Nation’s concerns about a proposed gold and copper mine proposed in our traditional territory,” said Chief Sam.

BC’s bad faith negotiations are in violation of the law set by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 2004 Haida decision (Haida Nation v. BC and Weyerhaeuser, which states that the Crown must act in good faith to consult and accommodate prior to projects being approved. The ruling also states First Nations are not required to prove Aboriginal Title to trigger this duty to consult. The highest court in Canada also warned public governments not to engage in sharp dealing.

“Who will take care of the Rainbow Creek watershed, who will care about the Arctic grayling, the beaver, caribou, moose and migratory birds that rely on the area?.Who will care about the people who have been able to provide for their families from the Shus Nadloh/Mt. Milligan area for generations? Certainly not the Provincial Government.” said Chief Sam. “This government’s negligent actions, breaches of commitments, and dishonest dealing with First Nations will result in a “no” for this project to continue.”

Nak’azdli Band Councillor Anne Marie Sam said: “This government is in a financial mess and lured by the promise of dollars it is willing to overlook the fact that the Mt. Milligan Mine will forever change the lifestyle of the people that have lived off the lands for generations and rush into an ill-prepared plan to extract low-grade copper and gold.

“BC talks about a new relationship with First Nations but on the ground nothing has changed. Any company can come into our territory and make plans for our resources without a First Nations approval,” Ms. Sam said.

The provincial government has an impoverished view of Aboriginal Rights and Title and they convince companies to think that with a provincial permit they are invincible.” Ms. Sam said. “As far as I am concerned construction will never start at Mt. Milligan, I am not going to stand quietly aside and watch as our territory is destroyed”

Media Contact:
Chief Fred Sam, Nak’azdli First Nation
Primary Phone: 250-996-7171
Secondary Phone: 250-996-3772