The Atrum Coal company, which has tenures along the upper reaches of the Skeena River, is about to conduct an archaelogical impact assessment on its Groundhog anthracite coal development project pursuant to Section 14 of the provincial Heritage Conservation Act.
We understand that the proposed anthracite project and the archaeological impact assessments would have an effect on all Gitxsan because the Skeena River is their main source of food supply of all species of fish. The Gitxsan have specific rights under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. The nature of the infringement is the Atrum tenure within the upper reaches of the Skeena River and the potential irreversible impact on salmon and animal habitat and the potential infringement on Gitxsan rights that result after archaeological fieldwork is done for a corporation.
When archaeologists are paid by big corporations, it means there is potential accommodation to address an infringement upon an aboriginal nation.
In my opinion, corporations have been pinpointing individual Gitxsan people to achieve this accommodation to address any infringement.
But not only one Gitxsan lives along the Skeena River. And not only one Gitxsan can make decisions that will affect the lives of a whole nation of people – this means fish and animal habitat, botanical forest products, the ecosystem and birds.
The Gitxsan Nation has lost too much already. The consultation and accommodation process by corporations is flawed and does not take into account the whole nation of Gitxsan people. To consult just one individual to change the face of the earth is totally wrong. Once this is done, there is no turning back. Corporations have found a loophole to take the land away and to do away with uncovered Indian artifacts.
Mary Dalen, Cedarvale, B.C.