A group of Tahltan and others who had been blocking access to the nearly-completed Red Chris copper mine owned by Imperial Metals have, for now, stopped their action.
The decision earlier this week followed the granting to Imperial Metals of an interim junction to stop the blockade and, as of Oct. 14, an enforcement order which could have resulted in the arrest of people at the blockade.
“When 15 of our elders were arrested in 2005 to protect the Tl’abane [Klappan area] it had huge impacts on our community. Although we were willing to make this sacrifice again, to protect our elders and children from this trauma, we’ve decided to not be arrested,” the Tahltan group known as the Klabona Keepers said in an Oct. 14 statement.
“Instead, we will fight the injunction in court and are calling on Imperial Metals and government to come meet with us to discuss the matter under our own jurisdiction.”
The statement was accompanied by a letter sent to a group of provincial politicians, including Premier Christy Clark, and Imperial officials, including president Pierre Lebel, for a meeting this week.
“This action does not affirm that industry can continue to use injunctions as a tool to marginalize the significance of their rights and title. This action is being taken to protect the elders, grandmothers, women and youth from RCMP action ordered by the provincial and federal system of government. The Tl’abanot’in [Klabona Keepers] have already been arrested as they stood on their land to protect it, but not today,” the Oct. 14 statement continued.
The blockade by the Klabona Keepers went up Sept. 29 and is assisted by environmental activists and by the Secwepemc First Nation whose traditional territory takes in the Mount Polley copper mine in the Cariboo.
That mine is also owned by Imperial Metals and when its tailings pond burst in August, the Red Chris tailings pond design then became a focal point for opposition to mining.
The Klabona Keepers set up a first blockade in August after the Mount Polley spill but it was taken down after the Tahltan Central Council and Imperial Metals reached an agreement for Imperial to pay for an independent review of the tailings pond by a company chosen by the central council, something which the Klabona Keepers first agreed to.
That review is ongoing.
At the same time, the province still has to issue a effluent discharge permit to Imperial before it is in any position to open the mine. Final power line work to the location still needs to be completed as well.