Four First Nations have established a comprehensive mining policy and rules for resource companies.
Chief Anne Louie with the Williams Lake Indian, says the Mt Polly tailings pond disaster reinforced the decisions of First nations to proceed with the detailed policy that will be applied to all existing, proposed, and future projects that involve or impact First Nations lands, waters, and rights.
“It has devastated the fishery, the medicinal plants, the berries, everything like that.”
“I think this policy is strong enough the government will take part in it and work with First Nations Energy and Mining Council as well. It’s got some strong components in there to changing the legislation for the better.”
The mining policy is not about saying ‘No’ to development but enhancing mining laws and regulations to ensure that such a disaster does not happen again, according to Louie.
“We’re not out to say we’re against mining. We’re for responsible mining and that’s the purpose of the document.”
“I think given the situation right now with industry, you hear it constantly it’s a major concern because of First Nations involving. This will enhance and strengthen the relationship with both.”
Louie adds that the policy will also ensure First Nations are no longer ignored or imposed upon.
“We never got information til near the end of a project and we have very recent years been involved through the referral processes that ask for our input as First Nations.”
“This document strengthens that and says we have an equal voice when it comes to these decisions that are going to be made on our traditional territories.”
The mining policy which was developed by the Fair Mining Collaborative was jointly adopted by the Williams Lake Indian Band, Soda Creek First Nation, Canim Lake Indian Band, and Canoe and Dog Creek First Nation.