Tahltan and Iskut Leadership Step Back from Klabona Keepers Hearing

The Klabona Keepers and supporters prepare to enter the court building in Terrace.

The Klabona Keepers and supporters prepare to enter the court building in Terrace.

About 45 Klabona Keepers representatives and supporters filled a Terrace courtroom today.  The Tahltan group is in hearings today and tomorrow fighting against Imperial Metals.

The resource company aims to secure a permanent injunction against the activist group, which would prevent future blockades of the Red Chris gold and copper mine under construction near the Village of Iskut.

The demonstrators blocked the two access roads leading into the Red Chris mine starting in September over concerns about a potential tailings wall breach once the mine is operational.

The Imperial Metals-owned Mount Polley mine tailings pond breached in August sending wastewater into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

Red Chris has the same tailings pond design as Mount Polley.

Imperial Metals won a temporary injunction that legally forced the Klabona Keepers to dismantle their blockade after a Vancouver court appearance in October.

The Iskut Band Council and the Tahltan Central Council applied to act as intervenors in the hearings this week but their lawyers announced in court this morning that they were not continuing with their applications.

A release posted on the TCC website explained why the First Nations governing body had planned to get involved in the hearings.

The Klabona Keepers are denying that the TCC can represent or speak for Tahltan title and rights regarding the mine.

As part of its case, the group has filed legal papers that claim aboriginal title and rights to the Red Chris mine site and all of Tahltan territory as the “Tl’abonit’in”.

They argue that this is a “sub-tribe” of the Tahltan Nation.

The TCC’s role in the hearings is to make sure that the court understands facts about Tahltan territory, title and rights, and how the TCC represents our Nation and its collective Tahltan title and rights.

Our role is not to support the injunction or the mine’s owners.

The TCC has gathered input from their membership about the mine and worked with Imperial Metals to conduct an independent review of the Red Chris tailings pond that was released this month.

Lawyer for the Iskut Band Council, Michael McDonald, said the band is reluctant to sign any agreement until issues with the Klabona Keepers are resolved.

Instead of discussing the issue in court, McDonald said the TCC and the Iskut Band Council will discuss developing a protocol for signing future development agreements during a meeting on Friday.


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