Secwepemc Nation reviewing Ajax mine

By Chad Klassen
May 2, 2016 - 12:32pm Updated: May 2, 2016 - 5:53pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a contentious issue all across Kamloops, and it's no different in the Shuswap Nation. Some all for the proposed Ajax mine and the jobs it'll bring. Others absolutely against it, wanting to preserve the cultural heritage of sites like Jacko Lake. 

"Yes, we need jobs, but there are other ways and means of providing jobs as well. Mining is not the only way," says Skeetchestn Chief Ron Ignace. "And mining, as you know, is a short-term employment opportunity."

Tk'emlups Chief Fred Seymour says he receives calls from both sides, and that is what this week is all about, to get an unbiased look at the proposed Ajax mine.

"If you don't know your history, you don't know your culture, and that's what this panel review is all about. Is it the final say? It'll unfold during the week," says Seymour.

Thirteen family members from each of the Tk'emlups and Skeetchestn Indian Bands are hearing from health experts speaking to the impacts of the mine, and cultural experts enlightening panel members on the Secwepemc law around the mine site. 

It's all about laying everything on the table, so they can make an informed decision.

"We're looking at it from the facts of our history, from the facts of our culture, from the facts of our laws, the facts of Western science," says Ignace. "The impact it's going to have on the land, and that way we can make that decision."

Representatives from KGHM will be there all week to take in the review, which will also go into much of the Secwepemc history in this territory, and the importance of the land in terms of food and medicine.

"There's opportunity for reversal," says Ignace, who's part of the fight to win land title over the area around Jacko Lake. "That land, as it now stands, is rich in plants, is rich in various wildlife species. It's a wildlife corridor, the birds, all of that. The trout in that lake. Yes, it's worth saving."

The review goes on all this week at the Tk'emlups arbour, with special guests Grand Chief Stuart Phillip speaking on Tuesday and AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde coming to Kamloops on Wednesday. 

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