Arrests on horizon in First Nation’s Sacred Headwaters mine protest
Read this Sept. 20 story from the Vancouver Observer on the standoff over a proposed open-pit coal mine in BC’s Sacred Headwaters, which continues to escalate. The Common Sense Canadian has been reporting on the protest since it began last month.
A showdown between a Tahltan Elder-led First Nations group and a coal mining company in northwest B.C. is getting ugly, as protesters taunt Fortune Minerals Limited to have them arrested, a news release from the band said today.
“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’s spokesperson, Rhoda Quock.
The opposition group, known as the Klabona Keepers have been camped out for more than a month at a Fortune Minerals drill site, and are now expecting the company will file a court injunction to have the RCMP remove them.
“In fact, we think our arrests may come this weekend,” said Quock.
The Klabona Keepers, numbering in the dozens, are opposing the Arctos Anthracite project – a 40-square-kilometre open-pit coal mine targeted for the heart of the so-called Sacred Headwaters at Mt. Klappan.
The area is the origin of three wild-salmon rivers, and a place of profound ecological and cultural importance to the Tahltan people who have lived there for thousands of years, according to the release.
So far, the Klabona Keepers have successfully blockaded roads to the camp, as well as access to Fortune drilling equipment, without getting arrested. RCMP have made continuous visits to the camp, the group says.
However, the group’s actions have put pressure on government to appoint a mediator to find a solution.
But on Tuesday, a provincial press release, authorized by three B.C. government ministers, said the mediator process would “allow the Arctos project to proceed.”
“The government’s statement has infuriated our people. It suggests the coal mine’s approval is a foregone conclusion,” said Iskut Band Chief Marie Quock on Friday in the release.
“Our people will never surrender our Sacred Headwaters.”