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Tahltan step up protest in Klappan
TAHLTAN ELDERS in the Klappan protesting Fortune Minerals Arctos Mining Project are daring the company to arrest them, believing that their arrests are imminent.
The group of Tahltan, known as the Klabona Keepers, who have been camping out for more than a month at the Fortune Minerals drill site, are expecting a court injunction to be filed by the company to have the RCMP remove them, said the group in a release put out early this morning, Sept. 20.
“We dare Fortune to get us arrested! We have cameras here. We will make sure the world knows what's going on,” said the group spokesperson Rhoda Quock in the release.
“In fact, we think our arrests may come this weekend.”
The Klabona Keepers, said to be numbering in the dozens, are opposing the Arctos Anthracite project, which would be a 40 square kilometre open pit coal mine in the heart of the so-called Sacred Headwaters at Mt. Klappan.
For the Tahltan, who have lived there for thousands of years, the area is a place of ecological and cultural importance and is the origin of three wild salmon rivers, said the release.
Even with the many RCMP visits to the camp, the Klabona Keepers have blockaded roads to the camp, as well as access to the Fortune drilling equipment, without getting arrested, continued the release.
The group's actions have put pressure on the government to appoint a mediator to find a solution, but a provincial government press release put out this past Tuesday said the mediator process would “allow the Arctos project to proceed.”
“This statement has infuriated our people. It suggests the coal mine's approval is a foregone conclusion,” said Quock.
If people are arrested, it wouldn't be the first time– in 2005, 15 Tahltan elders were arrested for blockading the same undeveloped mine project.
BC Mines minister Bill Bennett is expected to meet with Tahltan at the camp this Saturday to hear Tahltan concerns.
The conflict heated up back on Aug. 17 when a high profile meeting took place at the mountainside camp between Fortune's CEO Robin Goad and Tahltan leaders and community members.
Fortune's Arctos Anthracite project is a joint venture with POSCO Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of South Korean steel giant POSCO.