A campaign that hopes to empower communities to find their voice and create solutions as B.C faces the prospect of another disaster like the 2014 Mt. Polley tailing dams failure was launched Thursday in Williams Lake.
Co-creator of the Stand for Water Campaign, Jacinda Mack with the First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) was on hand to answer questions after Uprivers a new documentary film about two B.C watersheds and the communities that depend on them including Xat’sull First Nation that was devastated by the Mt. Polley breach and Ketchikan in Alaska that fears the development of two massive mines is another disaster in the making was screened.
Mack says that she believes there is a lot of people who are feeling dissatisfied with how the government is handling ‘big projects.”
“We can see right now down in Vancouver with the Kinder Morgan project all of the opposition that it has,” she says.
“After the Mt. Polley disaster happened there was a lot of anger and distrust, and governments always say don’t worry, we’ve got a plan, but we want to prevent it. We don’t want this to happen anywhere else.”
Because government responds and reacts to industry, Mack says they need to get people motivated and educated on these issues, and force governments indigenous, provincial, and federal to do what is right for communities and to have a sustainable long-term solution.
“When looking at the green industry you have to clean up mining in order to make those solar panels, electric cars. We have to get outside of this very limited worldview that is pushing us to the brink of extinction and we have no more time.”
Mack says she is hopeful that the Stand for Water Campaign which will be making upcoming stops in Smithers, Hazelton, Terrace, Bella Coola, Tofino, and Nelson, will be able to reach other communities as well.
“Mining regulations trump every other regulation even private property,” she says.
“There are laws against what happened at Mt. Polley but B.C and Canada has done nothing. To me, that is a real problem that we’re facing because the government is upholding the interests of a corporation over the interest of its’ own people and we think that’s just wrong and needs to be corrected.”
Voicing their support for the Stand for Water Campaign in Williams Lake Thursday were Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake, Amnesty International Canada, and members of the Williams Lake Indian Band.
“The industry will always say if you don’t support mining you’re against jobs and that’s absolutely not what we’re saying at all,” says Mack.
“We are for clean water, we are for healthy communities, we are for sustainable living.”
“We’re doing this work for everybody and for all of the kids that are coming up; what kind of future are we leaving them? These are the questions we ask and these are the responsibilities that we embrace, and we hope that everybody can support that and be a part of that.”
The ‘Stand for Water’ tour builds on the Tulalip Declaration for Water Protection signed recently by over 20 Indigenous communities and regional associations in B.C., Yukon, and Alaska with the aim to protect transboundary water ecosystems.