(Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories) – Today, members of the Neskonlith Secwepemc Nation and Ancestral Pride Ahousaht Sovereign Territory will join other First Nations and allies in voicing opposition to Imperial Metals (TSX: III) operations across British Columbia.
According to Janice Billy of the Secwepemc Nation, “We will be making our voice’s heard at the companies annual general meeting in Vancouver. In our territory as elsewhere, the company has not followed Canadian or international standards and legal obligations to obtain the free prior informed consent of the Indigenous peoples affected by its projects.”
The Ruddock Creek project is located near Tum Tum lake in the headwaters of the Upper Adams River. The project is in the advanced stage of exploration but has not obtained the consent of Neskonlith for current or any future activities. The Secwepec territory includes the Adamas River Watershed – home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run and the location of Imperial’s Ruddock Creek lead and zinc project. The area is of great importance to the Neskonlith who continue to use and occupy the area for hunting, gathering, education and ceremonies. In addition to being the headwaters of the Adams River, the area is also home to threatened mountain caribou and grizzly bear populations.
“As part of the Secwepemc Nation, the Neskonlith retain Aboriginal title and rights to their territory and have never surrendered the land to British Columbia,” further states Billy.
To show their concern over the future of their territory and the importance of preserving the health of their watersheds, Neskonlith band members have issued a Water Declaration. The declaration states that “As Secwepemc, we are collectively responsible to take care of our land and water, to uphold all of our responsibilities and follow our Natural Laws, as was passed down to us from Tqelt Kukpi7 and our ancestors. Therefore, we will not, under any condition, compromise the health of our water and our future generations.”
Imperial Metals is also planning two mining projects in Clayoquot Sound. Chitaapi (Catface Mountain) in Ahousaht territory, contains low-grade copper-molybdenum ore. Catface Mountain mine is a mountain-top removal scheme that would take place only 3 km from the village of Ahousat. Fandora, a potential gold mine, would be at the head of Tranquil Valley, on Tla-o-qui-aht territory, for which the provincial government is currently reviewing an application for exploration. They have not consulted with the Tla-o-qui-aht, who are opposed to mining in their homelands.
According to Sacheen of Ancestral Pride Ahousaht Sovereign Territory, “We, as sovereign Indigenous people and nations, will continue to protect our waters and lands from industrial genocide. Imperial Metals management is pursuing destructive mining projects in sensitive, highly valued ecosystems and has not obtained our free prior and informed consent for their operations. Imperial Metals is not welcome on sovereign Ahousaht territory.”
Janice Billy, Neskonlith Secwepmec Nation: (778) 220-3622
Sacheen, Ancestral Pride Ahousaht Sovereign Territory: (250) 266-1325