Yesterday the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society, blockaded the entrance of the Mount Polley Mine, located in their traditional territory in so called western “Canada.” The blockade was timed for the two year anniversary of the Mount Polley Mine disaster, where a tailings pond dam failed and spilled two million cubic meters of mining waste, devastating the Hazeltine Creek and parts of the Quesnel Lake. During the blockade, which included elders and children, an employee of the mine drove through the crowd injuring a land defender. Below is a statement form the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society.
On August 4, 2016, the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Societies and Allies, including Ancestral Pride gathered in front of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine to mark the second year anniversary of British Columbia’s largest catastrophic industrial disaster devastating one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, home to the world’s second largest sockeye salmon run.
The Allied Land Defenders including youth, Elders and women temporarily blockaded the mine site for the day, allowing workers to leave but not re-enter. In this process, an Imperial Metals employee attempted to violently breach the line of Elders, women and children at the mine entrance with their vehicle. Sacheen of Ancestral Pride, in an attempt to stop the vehicle was herself assaulted and sustained serious injuries and was immediately taken to the hospital for treatment. She has since been released and will be filing a report against the driver of the vehicle and is further seeking legal guidance.
On August 4th 2014, the largest industrial disaster was unleashed into Secwepemc Waters and onto Unceded and Unsurrendered Secwepemc Lands as Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam failed after years of unenforced warnings from the Province of British Columbia regarding the integrity and capacity of the dam, spilling 24 million cubic metres of toxic mine waste into the area.
First, it should be clearly stated, the Provincial Government has no legal jurisdiction on unceded and unsurrendered Territory to be issuing any of the permits that they have issued to Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine. Second, Imperial Metals has refused to clean up the toxic tailings left on the Land and in the Water and has not been held responsible for any of the mass destruction it has caused and continues to cause to and in Unceded and Unsurrendered Secwepemc Territory.
That the Province has continued to issue the Mount Polley Mine permits to re-open and operate at full capacity is not only absolutely unacceptable but criminal. The Province’s active aiding and abetting of Imperial Metals’ large scale industrial destruction on Secwepemc Lands is a continuation of genocide against the Secwepemc People. These actions have not and will not be tolerated.
“The Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society will not be stopped. Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine will not be allowed to be re-opened.”