Canada UpdatePublished by MAC on 2007-02-28
Source: Times Colonist
28th February 2007
First Nation protesters call for mining slowdown
Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist
27 February 2007
A pair of women from the Tahltan First Nation called on the provincial government yesterday to slow a mining boom they fear threatens their traditional territory in northwest B.C.
Rhoda Quock and Eileen Doody, who were in Victoria for Mining Day at the legislature, said more than a half-dozen mines are proposed for Tahltan lands that include the Klabona or "Sacred Headwaters" of the Nass, Skeena and Stikine rivers.
"If it all occurred at the same time, our land, our wildlife, and our people will be devastated," said Quock, who speaks for the Iskut elders group Klabona Keepers.
Members of the group were arrested in 2005 for blocking a mining road in their territory.
"We're saying that we support one mine at a time," added Doody, a community liaison for the Iskut band, one of the members of the Tahltan First Nation. "If all these mines go through at once, it's basically cultural genocide."
But Mining Minister Kevin Krueger said that while some within the Tahltan First Nation have raised concerns, the government has followed a "careful consultative" process with its elected leaders.
Those leaders, he said, have supported NovaGold Canada's plan for a $1.6-billion open-pit copper-silver-gold mine at Galore Creek, which recently received provincial environmental approval.
"About 50 per cent of the workforce at the Eskay Creek mine is Tahltan people, and that mine is nearing the end of its natural life, so they're very much interested in remaining employed in the industry," he said.
Krueger rejected the idea of moving ahead with just one mine at a time.
"We're at a very rare point in our history where there is so much opportunity," he said. "Mining markets, commodity markets are cyclical, and that might well mean that opportunities are missed if we only acted on one mine at a time."