AFN National Chief sits in on Ajax mine review

By Jill Sperling
May 4, 2016 - 5:55pm Updated: May 5, 2016 - 10:19am

KAMLOOPS — The KGHM-Ajax Mine proposal is getting mixed reviews from a variety of groups in the Kamloops area, including First Nations. 

 

The proposal has caught the attention of Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. He visited the Tk'emlups First Nation Wednesday to speak to the Secwepemc Nation panel review. 

He's heard from Both Tk'emlups and Skeetchsen elders who are concerned about the sites' impact on the surrounding land and water. 

"We're always seeking to find balance between the environment and the economy, no question," Bellegarde said. "We want to be part of the economy and have jobs and create wealth, but not at any cost." 

"We also have to find that proper balance and make sure there's long term sustainable economic development strategies with our full involvement and inclusion every step of the way."

There are no treaties in place between First Nations and the government concerning the land around Jacko Lake, but Bellegarde said Aboriginal rights and title must still be recognized.

"Indigenous peoples were here and we have been part of the land and water for millions of years; hundreds and thousands of years." Bellegarde said. 

"The whole jurisdictional piece will have to be questioned and viewed, and First Nations laws and jurisdiction respected and recognized."

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