9 year old’s plea to CEO of proposed Sacred Headwaters mine
This recent video from Beyond Boarding – a group of self-described “snowboarders making positive change” – shows 9-year-old Caden Jakesta and several other members of the Tahltan Nation in northwest BC conveying their concerns about a proposed mine in the Sacred Headwaters to the mining company’s CEO. The birthplace of three of BC’s largest salmon rivers – the Skeena, the Nass and the Stikine – the region is threatened by Fortune Minerals’ proposed open pit anthracite coal mine.
The Common Sense Canadian recently reported that emergency talks between members of the First Nation and Fortune’s CEO, Robin Goad, only heightened tensions in a growing standoff over the proposed mine, which would see the top blown off of Mount Klappan – a sacred site to the Tahltan peoples.
Goad flew into the Sacred Headwaters to meet with Tahltan leaders and elders a few days after they issued his company an eviction notice on August 14 over exploratory drilling at the proposed mine site. Beyond Boarding has spent the past three weeks at Beauty Camp – the historic cultural site near Mount Klappan where the Tahltan protest is based – and was on hand to document the meeting.
In a tense interchange, an inconsolable young Caden Jakesta expresses his concerns to Goad about legal action befalling his family and damage being inflicted on their traditional hunting grounds.
Many Tahltan elders have been arrested in past conflicts over Fortune’s mining plans and Shell Oil’s failed attempt to develop coal bed methane in the same region.
According to Dana Hibbard of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, a local environmental group supporting the Tahltan opposition to the mine, “The meeting got off to an awkward start as [Goad]…recognized the Tahtltan’s responsibility to the stewardship of their land and then attested that his company also had a ‘historic responsibility’ to the area. The members of the crowd looked around at each other, incredulous that this man could compare Fortune Minerals’ thirteen years in the Klappan to the millennia that the Tahltan have spent living in and protecting the Sacred Headwaters.”
Goad appears to have further offended his First Nations hosts when he challenged their knowledge of their own territory. Wrote Hibbard following the meeting, “Incredibly, at one point Goad disputed with the Tahltan as to which mountain is actually Mount Klappan. He claimed that his coal mine was not on Mount Klappan but was on the mountain behind him. The crowd cried in unison “that IS Mount Klappan.” Goad momentarily tried to deny this, but soon fell silent.”
In the end, Goad allegedly showed no willingness to back down from the controversial development, asking that the Tahltan peoples respect his company’s financial investment in the project and responsibility to its shareholders.
So far, the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines has declined to wade into the conflict, despite the tension it has sewn by both fast-tracking Fortune’s current environmental assessment, while at the same time campaigning on a promise to protect the Sacred Headwaters from development.