The Tk’emlúps and Skeetchestn Bands, acting together as the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN), today (Saturday, March 4, 2017) came out in formal opposition to the Ajax mine project, saying it threatens the Jacko Lake area traditionally known as Pipsell.
The decision is based on the SSN’s own environmental review of the project.
“We say no to this project in order to say yes to the health of our community members and our neighbours in Kamloops and surrounding area,” Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Fred Seymour said.
“For our two communities united through SSN, it does not make sense to sacrifice for all time all that we have in Pípsell to obtain limited benefits which will last for only 25 years,” he said.
“Many impacts were not and cannot be monetized including the adverse impacts on our cultural heritage as well as impacts on the environment.”
Pipsell is the traditional name given to Jacko Lake and its surrounding area — immediately adjacent to the proposed open-pit mine — by the Secwépemc.
Terry Denault, Acting Chief of the Skeetchestn Band, joined Seymour in stating united opposition to Ajax.
“It is our duty to our future generations to hold the provincial and federal governments accountable regarding any proposed development that will impact the territory that we have the sacred obligation of being stewards of since time immemorial,” said Denault.
“We want to protect and share in the wonder of the place known as Pípsell. Our decision to preserve and sustain Pípsell is for the long-term benefit of all Canadians, ensuring the future enjoyment of this special place serves to further reconciliation, so that we may all be great and good.”
The SSN review panel, which sat for a week last spring, included elected chiefs and councillors as well as elders, youth and family appointees. It identified Pipsell as “uniquely situated to serve as a place of sharing between Indigenous and non-Indigenouse people.”
Here’s the complete text of the SSN’s statement as released on Saturday:
Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) does not give its free, prior and informed consent to the development of the lands and resources at Pípsell (Jacko Lake and Area) for the purposes of the Ajax Mine Project.
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.
The Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, representing the communities of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and Skeetchestn Indian Band, has an irreplaceable historical, cultural and spiritual connection to Pípsell. This connection is deeply rooted in one their oral histories: the Trout Children Stseptékwll. The Trout Children Oral History is inseparably connected to the place of the proposed Ajax mine site. It encapsulates and expresses the human connection of Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc, to Pípsell. It sustains Secwépemc law about Secwépemc conduct on the land and the reciprocal accountability to living beings on the land, social conduct across generations and within generations.
The SSN Joint Council, composed of the elected leadership of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and Skeetchestn Indian Band, made this decision in accordance with SSN’s laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems supported by the evidence and assessments as presented in the Pípsell Report and SSN Panel Recommendations Report.