Article originally published on info news.ca on 10/09/15.
KAMLOOPS – A group representing local First Nations will delve into the potential impacts of the proposed Ajax Mine on their traditional territory.
The Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation, a group representing the Skeetchestn and Tk’emlups Indian Bands, are presenting community information sessions aimed at helping band members formulate a decision on the proposed mine, which will then be included in the Ministry of the Environment’s formal report.
The proposed mine will be located southwest of the city and includes the lands around Jacko Lake, the main area of contention for the bands. Skeetchestn and Tk’emlups both claim Aboriginal rights and title to the lands and resources surrounding the lake and, therefore, jurisdiction to how the land is to be used.
The nation believes the Ajax Mine project cannot be assessed using the same consultation process or environmental assessment methods and must respect Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc customs and culture.
Both bands promise their assessment will run alongside, or even in collaboration with, the Ministry, but from their own perspective.
The Skeetchestn Indian Band will first host the first session, Health impacts of open pit mining, Monday, Sept. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Savona. The Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment will speak at this session and present information on the health impacts of open-pit mines including potential impacts related to the KGHM Ajax Mine. The same lecture will take place at the Tk’emlups Indian Band in Kamloops on Sept. 22.
Tk’emlups will also host a session Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 5 to 8 p.m. where speakers will present the first phase of a cultural heritage study completed on the KGHM Ajax site. Speakers will all be present and available for questions.
The beginning of October the bands will each host the Kamloops Area Preservation Association. Speakers will present on the potential impacts of the proposed KGHM Ajax project. These sessions take place Oct. 5 for the Skeetchestn Indian Band and and Oct. 13 for the Tk’emlups Indian Band.
Both the Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment and the Kamloops Area Preservation Association are part of a coalition made up of five groups that actively speak out against the Ajax mine project. The coalition formed a crowdfunding page on Indigogo to raise money for their own independent review of the mine.
These are the first sessions the nation has held since June, when they discussed the land title on Jacko Lake.
The proposed Ajax Mine is an open-pit copper-gold mine set to be located on the southwest edge of Kamloops. KGHM plans on submitting the environmental application for the project in the near future.