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Imperial Metals asks court to remove Red Chris Mine blockade

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Posted October 8, 2014 by Damien Gillis in First Nations
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Imperial Metals asks court to remove Red Chris Mine blockade

First Nations have been protesting several Imperial Metals mines since Mount Polley (Photo: Facebook)

UPDATE: In a surprise ruling today, Justice Grauer refused to grant Imperial Metals an injunction against the Klabona Keepers’ blockade

Imperial Metals, the company behind the Mount Polley tailing pond disaster, is seeking an injunction today at the BC Supreme Court to forcibly remove Tahltan First Nations protestors from a blockade of the company’s newest project, Red Chris Mine.

In a media advisory this morning, the leaders of the Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp – established near Mount Polley mine by a group of local Secwepemc First Nations following the largest tailings pond spill in history – announced a protest of the injunction proceedings outside the Vancouver court house where they are being held.

The Mount Polley disaster inspired the Klabona Keepers, from Tahltan territory in northwest BC, to set up a blockade of Imperial’s yet-to-be-opened Red Chris Mine – over concerns about the company’s tailings pond design.

This concern is shared by others, including US-Canadian conservation group Rivers Without Borders. In a recent op-ed in these pages, RWB’s Tadzio Richards noted:

In 2013, a third party review was done of Imperial Metals’ engineering designs for their tailings pond at Red Chris. The independent review concluded there was no guarantee that Imperial Metal’s tailings pond would hold toxic wastewater from the mine. Despite this conclusion, construction at Red Chris has been allowed to continue, and the mine is currently scheduled to open in September of this year.

Soon after writing this, the Klabona Keepers instituted an initial protest against Red Chris – stalling the mine’s opening. They backed down temporarily once Imperial offered the Tahltan increased oversight over the mine’s tailings pond design. But losing confidence in the new arrangement, the Klabona Keepers put up a new blockade on Sept. 29.

On October 3, Imperial filed initial documents announcing injunction proceedings for 10 AM today.

“The defendants, through their physical blockade and their conduct, are interfering with Red Chris’s use and enjoyment of property,” the documents claimed.

Imperial Vice President Steve Robertson acknowledged to the Terrace Standard over the weekend that the company will be seeing an injunction to break the blockade, noting, “We don’t think there is a good reason for [the current blockade]. We understand there are some outside forces that have come in that are very active on the blockade.”

Says Kanahus Manuel of the Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp near Mount Polley:

In light of the Tsilhqot’in case, injunctions must not and cannot be used as a tool to displace Indigenous Peoples from their homelands anymore.

Supporting Manuel at a recent press conference in Vancouver on the lack of post-spill cleanup in the area, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs declared, “We’re moving from the era of consultation to the era of consent,” putting governments and corporations on notice that First Nations are prepared to take a far more active role in protecting their territories from dangerous development.

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About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

5 Comments


  1.  
    Ron Peters

    It also occurs to me that the courts are the only thing saving BC and Canada these days from the untrammeled corporatocracy of our government.




  2.  
    Ron Peters

    Quite the update! I should think that Imperial Metals will go down if the blockade isn’t removed. Red Chris is their new cash cow which is being depended on to keep everything else afloat.




  3.  
    Susan Quipp

    My heart sings. Each of these decisions are setting important precedents for when China, view the FIPA, threatens to sue Canada to protect their financial interests and shove aside the people’s protection of the land and water, the animals and the people. Do we dare to hope the tide has turned/is turning?




  4.  
    Damien Gillis

    STATEMENT FROM KLABONA KEEPERS FOLLOWING TODAY’S COURT VICTORY: “Ultimately, this is an incredible victory – not only for the Klabona Keepers, but for all Indigenous Nations connected by the water and the salmon. Our incredible allies from Secwepemc territory, Kanahus and Anushka, and Klabona Keeper, Loretta, overcame all odds in the colonial court today to seek justice.”




  5.  
    Don F.

    “The defendants, through their physical blockade and their conduct, are interfering with Red Chris’s use and enjoyment of property”

    First of Red Chris is the name of a mine, a mine is not capable of using or enjoying anything. People are,animals are but a mine certainly is not. Trying to avoid the use of Imperial mines may be their goal but to make the above statement borders on the ridiculous.
    It would be accurate for the First Nations to state,’the mine,Red Chris, is interfering with their use and enjoyment of property”





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