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Imperial Metals denied permanent injunction, Klabona Keepers prepare for next court date

Klabona Keepers and allies outside courthouse

Photo: Klabona Keepers and allies gathered at the courthouse yesterday.

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the Klabona Keepers and their opposition to the Red Chris copper-gold mine due to the threat it poses to water in their territory. British Columbia-Yukon organizer Brigette DePape was at the British Columbia Supreme Court building in Vancouver yesterday for an important hearing on this matter, along with Council of Canadians Delta chapter activist Bob Ages, a volunteer from our Vancouver office, and numerous others.

The Red Chris mine is located about 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake on Tahltan territory. The Fraser River and a major spawning ground for salmon are downstream of the mine. The Red Chris mine is scheduled to open later this month or next. The Keepers are elders and families who live on Tahltan traditional lands near Iskut known as the ‘sacred headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers’.

CBC reports, “A group calling itself the Klabona Keepers began blockading the road into the Red Chris mine development in mid-August. The group of Tahltan elders said they were worried about the possible impacts of the gold and copper project on their community after the tailings pond at another mine site run by the same company failed this summer. When the earthen wall of the Mount Polley tailings pond failed on Aug. 4, 25 million cubic metres of water and waste spilled into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.”

“The company, Imperial Metals, asked the courts for a [permanent] injunction to force the group to stop its protest. On Wednesday, the courts agreed, but ruled the injunction would be only temporary and that it couldn’t be enforced until Oct. 14.”

The Terrace Standard further explains, “The interim injunction could clear the way for police to arrest the blockaders who consist of a Tahltan group calling itself the Klabona Keepers, members of the Secwepemc First Nation, and other environmental activists. …Today’s injunction is also in effect until a permit is issued for the Red Chris mine tailings facility. Imperial needs that permit in order to completely open its mine. …A further order coming today is that Imperial’s original application for a more permanent injunction is adjourned until a new date is set. That new hearing will be held in Terrace.”

The CBC news report adds, “Rhoda Quock, spokeswoman for the Klabona Keepers, called it an incredible victory, not only for those blockading, but for all indigenous nations facing similar situations. …The court also ordered that the case must now be heard in Terrace, which will allow elders and youth to attend and prepare for the hearing, Quock said.”

And on their Facebook page, the Klabona Keepers commented, “Today – our spirits are high. In the Supreme Court this morning, a multi-million dollar mining corporation, Imperial Metals, was denied a permanent injunction against the Klabona Keepers. …Ultimately, this is an incredible victory – not only for the Klabona Keepers, but for all Indigenous Nations connected by the water and the salmon. Our incredible allies from Secwepemc territory, Kanahus and Anushka, and Klabona Keeper, Loretta, overcame all odds in the colonial court today to seek justice. …We cannot thank all of our supporters enough for standing with us today.”

Further reading
Council of Canadians in solidarity with the Klabona Keepers of the Tahltan First Nation (October 7 blog)
The Klabona Keepers blockade the Red Chris mine over water concerns (August 9 blog)