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AJAX – Allies gather to declare solidarity against proposed mine

Signatories to anti-Ajax declaration, and members of SSN review panel, gathered at end of ceremony. (Mel Rothenburger photo)

By MEL ROTHENBURGER
ArmchairMayor.ca

More than 30 First Nations, environmental and citizens groups today (April 1, 2017) declared their solidarity in opposing the Ajax mine project.

They came together at the Irving K. Barber Centre at TRU for a morning-long ceremony, one after another taking to the microphone to state their opposition to the mine, then signing a declaration as about 250 people listened, watched and cheered, often rising in standing ovation to what they heard and saw.

Some speakers verged on tears, so strong were their concerns about the mine and their commitment to stopping it.

‘It’s not about the money, it’s about protecting our land and our water… It’s about a new way, an inclusive, participatory way.’

It was event like no other, this coalition of allies that crosses socio-economic, cultural and ethnic boundaries in a single cause.

And it took First Nations to do it. For years, various opponent groups within the community have been doing their best to generate a consensus against Ajax but the recent declaration of the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) opposing the mine set the stage for today’s “Allies Meeting,” described by several speakers as “the first chapter in our new story.”

Ugo Lapointe of MiningWatch Canada puts his signature to Declaration opposing Ajax.

That story is more than a rejection of one mine — it’s a hope that there will be a new era of working together to protect the land.

They came at the issue from different directions, with several emphasizing First Nations rights, and others focusing on environmental and even neighbourhood concerns.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about protecting our land and our water,” said Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson, representing the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. She said it was about “a new way, an inclusive, participatory way.”

Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Coun. Viola Thomas said First Nations “need to stand up and exercise our own laws and give it expression,” and added a call to action, saying “It’s an opportunity for each of you not only to sign the declaration…. But to become actively engaged.”

Ugo Lapointe of MiningWatch Canada echoed the need to stand together. “We need to step up.”

And step up they did — groups ranging from the B.C. Assembly of First Nations to the Aberdeen Neighbourhood Association, Rivers Without Borders, Forest Protection Allies and West Coast Environmental Law.

Assembly listens as Declaration is read out.

Quite a few are already familiar names locally, including Kamloops Code Blue, Physicians for a Healthy Environment, the Kamloops Area Preservation Association and Kamloops Moms for Clean Air. Even the B.C. Green Party signed, and local NDP candidates sent a letter of support.

While I counted close to 20 groups who signed the declaration, there were quite a few others who couldn’t attend but sent messages of support, such as the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, Clayoquot Action and Wilderness Committee.

Missing were business groups, but it’s not surprising as a number of them, including the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, are on record as being in support of the mine.

With KGHM Ajax determined to push ahead with the mine, this issue is far from over but, clearly, the momentum has shifted against it.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5132 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on AJAX – Allies gather to declare solidarity against proposed mine

  1. tony brumell // April 2, 2017 at 5:27 PM // Reply

    These comments just go to illustrate that if you are willfully blind you won’t see anything.

  2. tony brumell // April 1, 2017 at 9:55 PM // Reply

    What an amazing day!!!! It was an honour to be apart of it.That’s something KGHM would not understand,but they should and will eventually understand our resolve.We will defeat you together.Thanks all for letting me stand with you.I will do so again whenever you call
    Thanks Mel for the coverage

  3. Here, today, I left one message on the ‘foreign’ paper of Kamloops, so to speak, and no one bothered to comment on the consideration of just how Kamloops _will_ change forever over time…

    1. ‘Jack Jones’ April 1, 2017 at 2:49 pm 
So, to sum up:
    
Mining- Yes

    Ajax- No
    
Investment in Kamloops- Yes

    Ajax- No
    
Industry- Yes
    
Ajax- No


    2. ‘J’ April 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm 
-Try as they might after the mine, they will never replace the benefits Kamloops had before the ‘started strip mining’ out this grassland area. Kamloops will be historically known as a sell out for dollars on a commodities market, which in fact goes up and down and will never match the potential Kamloops could have had, under the slower growth of a population pursuing community interests through sports and higher education.

    
-What the hell, eh? Let’s just go for it and be another mining rock pit…’in the sky,’ so to speak.


    3. ‘oldman’ April 1, 2017 at 3:19 pm 
Just get this mine going already. Scores of people in this area are counting on this mine for survival. We “all” utilize products derived from mining. It will be a blessing for Kamloops & surrounding area.


    4. ‘oldman’ April 1, 2017 at 3:38 pm 
Can’t happen fast enough. Approval is long overdue. Get er done …….. people are wanting to go to work.


    -Goes to show you how deep the roots of a City’s foundation (for or in the long run) really is and isn’t there…!

    • Keepitclean // April 2, 2017 at 11:20 PM // Reply

      oldman, there’s no promise of many jobs for locals. KGHM has never stated the number of Canadians let alone Kamloopsians they’d hire. Many employees from Poland and other nations are expected to be brought in, in particular with the more skilled positions. For the jobs available there’s nothing to prove they’ll be high paying long term with great benefits. It wouldn’t make sense when there are much higher quality mine sites in countries like Chile and Souh Africa where they can pay workers much less.

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