|UBCIC Fully Supports Tahltan and Rejects the Unilateral Appointment of Mediator
News Release. September 19, 2013
(Coast Salish Territories / Vancouver, September 19, 2013) Last week, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs hosted our 45th Annual General Assembly. Minister John Rustad of the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation presented and responded to questions from members of the Chiefs-in-Assembly. One of the critical issues discussed was the escalating situation in the Klappan, the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine watersheds involving Tahltan Elders, the Klabona Keepers, and Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX:FT) Arctos project.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs stated "Last week at our 45th Annual General Assembly, when he was told of the deep concerns of the Chiefs-in-Assembly regarding the Klappan, Minister Rustad stated the Province was fully engaged and working with the Tahltan to protect the Klappan and to resolve this situation as part of a Level 4 Working Group with the Tahltan as defined by the Tahltan Nation Shared Decision-making Agreement. Yet just days later, the Province issues a ham-fisted news release announcing their unilateral appointment of a mediator to facilitate a discussion to allow the Arctos project to proceed. By any measure, such a unilateral action is crass, ill-informed and doomed. The UBCIC immediately calls upon the Provincial Government to cease and desist their efforts to trivialize the Shared Decision-making Agreement and truly listen and work meaningfully with the Tahltan."
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said "The Chiefs-in-Assembly unanimously adopted AGA Resolution 2013-35, Support for the Tahltan Nation and the Protection of the Klappan Area. The Chiefs-in-Assembly stated in a clear and united voice, the UBCIC fully supports the Iskut First Nation, Tahltan Band Council and the Tahltan Central Council in their efforts to protect the Klappan, the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine watersheds. The Provincial Government has committed to work with the Tahltan to protect the whole of the Klappan. To say that the Arctos project is exempt from these discussions is to dismiss the profound concerns expressed by the Elders, leadership and many community members who do not want an open-pit coal mine in the Klappan."
Grand Chief Phillip concluded "The Tahltan’s collective and consistent message is the permanent protection of the Klappan. By resolution, the UBCIC firmly supports the permanent protection of the Klappan and we offer our complete support."
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (604) 684-0231
UNION OF B.C. INDIAN CHIEFS
45TH ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SEPTEMBER 11TH – 13TH SEPTEMBER, 2013
Resolution no. 2013-35
RE: Support for the Tahltan Nation and the Protection of the Klappan Area
WHEREAS the Iskut First Nation, Tahltan Band Council and the Tahltan Central Council holds unextinguished Aboriginal Title and Rights to their traditional territory which includes the Klappan area;
WHEREAS the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:
Article 25: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
Article 26(2): Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact;
WHEREAS the Klappan area, the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine watersheds is highly significant to the Tahltan Nation and the area holds cultural, spiritual and social values for the Tahltan Nation. It is an area of vital salmon-bearing waterways and is integral to the livelihood of the Tahltan people and communities;
WHEREAS Fortune Minerals Ltd is proposing under its Arctos Anthracite Coal Project to build an open-pit mine to extract coal from the Klappan area;
WHEREAS the proposed open-pit mine would destroy Mount Klappan and greatly impact the entire ecosystem of the Sacred Headwaters;
WHEREAS on December 18, 2012 the tripartite agreement between the Province of BC, Shell Canada and the Tahltan Central Council called for the immediate protection of the Klappan area; and
WHEREAS the Tahltan Nation is united in its stand to protect the Sacred Headwaters and have been maintaining an ongoing vigil/protest at the Fortune field camp.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly fully supports the Iskut First Nation, Tahltan Band Council and the Tahltan Central Council in their efforts to protect the Klappan area, the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine watersheds;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly firmly supports the Tahltan Nation position that they hold unextinguished Aboriginal Title and Rights to the Klappan area, an area which holds deep and significant value to the Tahltan People;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly call upon the Provincial and Federal governments to immediately intervene to ensure the permanent protection and preservation of the Klappan area; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly directs the UBCIC Executive and staff to continue advocating in accordance with this resolution and to provide political assistance as requested by the Iskut First Nation, Tahltan Band Council and the Tahltan Central Council.
Moved: Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, Splatsin
Seconded: Chief Harold Aljam, Coldwater Indian Band
Date: September 12, 2013
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.