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SSN chiefs press Poland on UN declaration

Minister Catherine McKenna

After meeting with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna on the Ajax Mine proposal, Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) chiefs say they expect not only Canada but Poland to live up to their commitments as signatories of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Tk’emlups Chief Fred Seymour and Skeetchestn Chief Ron Ignace met with McKenna last week in Niagara Falls, Ont.

With both Canada and Poland fully embracing the UN declaration, SSN calls on the two states to respect the requirement to ensure SSN consent in any decision involving Jacko Lake and area.

KGHM is state owned, so SSN has been in communication with the Polish ambassador to Canada and has insisted that the Polish government direct its KGHM Polska Miedz SA Supervisory and Management Board to uphold commitments under the UN declaration.

In addition, SSN has requested a meeting with Polish ambassador to Canada, Marcin Bosacki, to discuss the development of a nation-to-nation relationship with SSN on the KGHM Ajax Mine project.

“As stewards of the territory under consideration, we have a responsibility to our future generations to seek meaningful consultation and ensuring our place as a decision maker at the table,” Ignace said.

SSN has continuously raised concern about the current mine review due to the inadequacies of both the federal and provincial assessment processes.

After repeated requests for a full panel review of the project denied, SSN undertook a precedent-setting project assessment review process on the KGHM- Ajax open pit mine.

The two chiefs shared with McKenna some of the results of the review held in May, a community-based process designed to incorporate cultural perspectives, knowledge and history.

Environmentally, as part of the one percent of remaining intact mid-elevation grassland in B.C., the area is home to red and blue listed species of both animals and plants, the SSN noted. In addition, Pípsell (Jacko Lake) is home to a historically unique remnant native variety of trout. They hold that ethnobiological and anthropological research underscores the belief that the area is a cultural keystone place.

The significance of the area is deeply rooted in an epic story, The Trout Children, which explains the deeds of Secwepemc people to the land known as Pípsell (Jacko Lake). The narrative embodies Secwepemc stsq’ey’ (indigenous laws) and provide the foundation for ownership and stewardship of Secwepemc lands and resources.

On three separate occasions over a three-year period, the City of Kamloops has requested from Ottawa a full panel review of the Ajax project and has been turned down each time.

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