Elders threaten blockade against coal mine in Sacred Headwaters
DEASE LAKE, BC, Aug. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - The Tahltan Central Council acknowledges the frustrations felt by Tahltan people that lead to more than 30 Tahltan Elders and community members to serve a "24 hour eviction notice" to Fortune Minerals on Wednesday night in our territory in northwest B.C.
We are told that after the notice expires at 8pm Thursday, the protesters who are calling themselves the "Klabona Keepers" may blockade the company's air travel in and out of the area, and frustrate the company's operations. We are further told that the RCMP and Fortune Mineral representatives may be attending to the area.
Fortune Minerals is a junior mining company proposing a massive open pit coal mine that will impact more than 4,000 hectares of pristine wilderness and destroy Mount Klappan.
We are sympathetic of the need to find a solution to the concerns being raised. At our recent AGM, the Tahltan people unanimously passed a resolution calling for the permanent protection of this area, known to us as the Klappan or "Sacred Headwaters." The region supports three major salmon-bearing rivers - the Skeena, Nass and Stikine, and its preservation is fundamental to our hunting, fishing and cultural practices that have gone on for thousands of years.
"I am not surprised that our people are taking action against Fortune Minerals, we have had concerns with a coal mine in the Klappan for many years and our people want to see the Klappan / Sacred Headwaters permanently protected." said Annita McPhee, TCC President.
"We have been fighting this development for so long. It is time to start building long term solutions that will protect our land and culture," said McPhee.
"Fortune Minerals' project is located in a critically important area that requires long term management and protection to preserve cultural and ecological values for the Tahltan people, and all of B.C. We are very encouraged that the Provincial Government has committed to working with us to develop a protection vision for the Klappan."
Tahltan Elder-led blockades have gone on for months before. In 2005, the Tahltan blockaded Fortune Minerals from entering the Klappan. This resulted in 15 arrests, most of which were Elders, and a drawn out legal battle. Likewise, following years of similar protests, Shell Canada relinquished its contentious shale gas tenures in the Klappan in 2012.
The TCC is the Tahltan Nation governing body representing the collective aboriginal title and rights interests of all Tahltan peoples.
Mount Klappan is adjacent to the Spatsizi Wilderness Area - about a 6-hour drive north of Terrace.
SOURCE Tahltan Central CouncilFor further information:
Annita McPhee, President, Tahltan Central Council: 604-754-9974