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Kamloops chapter hosts Barlow talk on water, the Ajax mine & the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Photo by Harjap Grewal.

The Council of Canadians Kamloops chapter hosted Maude Barlow for a public forum that took place at Thompson Rivers University last night.

More than 200 people were in attendance.

The other speakers included Council of Canadians Board member Garry John, Sunny LeBourdais of the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation, and Thompson Rivers University student Shawna-Rae McLean.

There are two major water justice issues at the forefront in Kamloops at this time.

Ajax mine

Polish-owned KGHM Ajax wants to build an open-pit gold and copper mine – partially located with the south east city limits of Kamloops – that would see a massive pit dug beside Jacko Lake, a smaller second pit by Aberdeen, reroute Peterson Creek and create a large tailings pond that could destroy Inks Lake.

The Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn bands, collectively known as the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN), rejects the mine. The SSN notes, “The Ajax Mine Project in its proposed location at Pípsell is in opposition to the SSN land use objective for this profoundly sacred, culturally important, and historically significant keystone site, which significance is fundamental and undiminished. If approved, the mine would destroy part of Jacko Lake and irreversibly affect Pípsell.”

The mine was first proposed in late 2011 and the Kamloops chapter has been campaigning against it since early 2012. The provincial government’s assessment of the mine was suspended in May 2016. The SSN conducted its own independent assessment in accordance with its laws, traditions, customs and governance system. That assessment led to their decision to reject the mine.

On April 1, The Council of Canadians and the Kamloops chapter signed a solidarity statement with the SSN in opposition to the mine.

Kinder Morgan pipeline

The proposed 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline threatens the South Thompson River.

The South Thompson River is the southern branch of the Thompson River, the largest tributary of the Fraser River. It originates at the outlet of Little Shuswap Lake and flows approximately 60 kilometres southwest to Kamloops where it joins the North Thompson River to form the main stem of the Thompson River.

In May 2014, Kamloops This Week reported, “Western Canadian Spill Services and Kinder Morgan crews staged a mock spill scenario on the South Thompson River at Pioneer Park. A containment boom was deployed in the river from the park boat launch, as it would in the event of a real pipeline leak into the South Thompson.”

While the South Thompson River is one of the 64 rivers listed in the Navigation Protection Act, the tributaries that feed into (such as Peterson Creek) are not. We believe that more stringent protections must be enacted that would put water sustainability, water justice, water as a public trust and a human right above the interests of Big Oil.

Last night’s public forum was co-sponsored by the chapter and the Thompson River University Faculty Association Human Rights Committee.

It concludes a highly-successful tour organized by local chapters and our staff that took Barlow to Courtenay on April 6 (where 360 people came to hear her speak), Nanaimo on April 7 (where 300 people heard her talk), Victoria on April 8 (with 150 people), Williams Lake (with 130 people), and last night in Kamloops (with 200 people).