MINING MINISTER HAWES IS PART OF THE PROBLEM, NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION
VANCOUVER, March 10 /CNW/ - First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) has today written to Premier-elect Christy Clark asking her to consider replacing Randy Hawes with a less confrontational and offensive, and more open minded and knowledgeable mining minister.
"If the goal of the new premier is to improve relations with First Nations and to work with our leaders and communities, then Minister Hawes is not the person for the job," said FNWARM Chair Bev Sellars, Chief of the Xat'Sull (Soda Creek) First Nation.
Chief Sellars was one of several FNWARM delegates to this week's Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual conference in Toronto who walked out of a session on aboriginal affairs when Mr. Hawes got up to speak and again started berating First Nations for not embracing mining as the answer to all their problems.
"Over the past year Mr. Hawes has gone out of his way to criticise and insult traditional First Nations cultures, to accuse us of not caring for our children, to pretend there are no real problems with mining, and to preach to us on behalf of companies," said Chief Sellars. "To see him doing the same thing again at a conference session aimed at encouraging aboriginal dialogue was very disheartening."
The BC First Nations summit and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs have previously called for Mr. Hawes to resign. The Tsilhqot'in National Government was the first to do so, after Mr. Hawes said that if they cared about their children they would stop opposing the Prosperity Mine project. That project was later emphatically rejected by the federal government because of the devastating impacts it would have on the environment and First Nations.
FNWARM member and Xeni Gwet'in Chief Marilyn Baptiste, whose Tsilhqot'in community would have been most directly impacted by the Prosperity mine, said: "Now we have a rebid proposal for Prosperity that, based on previous statements by the proponents, will be even worse for us and the environment, and once again Mr. Hawes is telling us we are bad people if we do not accept it. This is not the way to move forward on mining and relationship building in BC."
In its letter to the Premier-elect, FNWARM notes that Ms. Clark's message about building public policy and making decisions around the needs of families is "exactly what motivates FNWARM."
Chief Baptise said: "We hope Ms. Clark will be able to grasp what Mr. Hawes clearly cannot, and that is that as women, mothers and grandmothers, we view development through a prism of traditional values and beliefs that focus on youth, families, healthy lands and clean water."For further information:
Chief Bev Sellars: Phone: 250-989-2323 Cell: 250-267-6094.
Chief Marilyn Baptiste: Work: 250-394-7023 Ext. 202. Cell: 250-267-1401