(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver) - UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip today called on the BC Minister of Mines, Kevin Krueger, to reverse a recent provincial decision granting a mining permit for a gold mine near Kamloops, citing the government’s failure to accommodate the aboriginal interests of local Shuswap Nation Bands.
“This permit was granted prematurely,” said Grand Chief Phillip, “because the Kamloops and Skeetchestn Bands were not given a fair opportunity to be consulted and to reconcile their interests with those of the government and the mining industry. It is insulting to make BC First Nations communities wait in poverty for a provincial policy on sharing mining revenues while the government rushes to give away the unceded lands and resources of those same communities to a mining company based in Toronto.”
Grand Chief Phillip pointed out that in 2005 the BC Government committed itself to share resource revenues with First Nations under the so-called New Relationship policy, but since that time there has been a “total policy vacuum” on revenue sharing in the mining industry.
NewGold Inc., a Toronto company, has made millions on the Toronto Stock Exchange based on a mining tenure that the BC Government gave the company without consulting the Kamloops and Skeetchestn Indian Bands (KDSN - Kamloops Division of the Shuswap Nation) in whose unceded territory the project is to take place. Further the province has exempted NewGold’s project from a full environmental review. Though plans for the project have been developing for the past several years the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources only approached the KDSN bands in November 2006, and has not provided them with enough time or funding to obtain independent expert advice on the project.
“This government and Minister Krueger are in gross default of their duty to respect the interests of First Nations before giving away their lands and resources to outsiders” he stated. “First Nations communities have been here for generations upon generations. We are sick of seeing the mining industry destroy our lands and waters and then walk away with mega profits, leaving no economic benefits behind.”
The proposed mine is to be built on the old Afton Mine site, previously occupied by Tech Cominco, which during the 1977-1997 period created a huge crater on the landscape, extensive dumping of tailings, and the destruction of a lake in the Cherry Creek watershed, but provided no economic benefits or compensation to the local Shuswap Nation bands.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (250) 490-5314
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.