Canada: First Nations release 'clear mining policy and rules' for central BC

Date of publication: 
2 December 2014

Four First Nation groups from around the Williams Lake area released today their own set of mining rules to apply to all existing and proposed mining projects within its traditional territory.

The group is comprised of the Xat’sull, T’exelc, Tsq’escen’ and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nations. The four claim a traditional territory of over 5 million hectares in the Cariboo and Chilcotin region of central British Columbia, the Secwepemc Nation.

Authors of the document say policy will cover everything from staking a claim to commitments to clean up old mine sites. The policy, however, does not override BC laws.

“With this mining policy we can no longer be ignored or imposed upon, and the Province and industry can no longer claim they do not know how to work with us – this document spells that out in clear, specific terms,” says Chief Sellars of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek), in a news release entitled First Nations Establish Clear Mining Policy and Rules for Resource Companies.

Read the policy here –


First Nations establish clear mining policy and rules for resource companies

Northern Shuswap Tribal Council News Release –

1 December 2014

WILLIAMS LAKE, BC. Dec.1, 2014: The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Leadership Council (comprised of the Xat’sull, T’exelc, Tsq’escen’ and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nations, near the city of Williams Lake, BC) announced today its four First Nations have jointly adopted a comprehensive and detailed mining policy that will be applied to all existing, proposed and future projects that involve or impact on its lands, waters and rights.

The policy, and a companion tool kit to manage its implementation and enforcement, was developed by the Fair Mining Collaborative and covers everything from efforts to stake claims, through every stage of the mining process, to agreement compliance and benefits from operating mines, to mine clean-up. It is a clear statement of leadership and authority by the Northern Secwepemc within their stewardship and title lands.

“Since mining arrived in BC First Nations have been ignored and imposed upon, and more recently, as the courts have reaffirmed our rights, some have argued that they do not know what First Nations want and there are no rules to play by,” said Chief Bev Sellars of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek), First Nation, which first commissioned the project in 2013.

“With this Mining Policy we can no longer be ignored or imposed upon, and the Province and industry can no longer claim they do not know how to work with us – this document spells that out in clear, specific terms,’’ said Chief Sellars. Chief Ann Louie of the T’exelc (Williams Lake Indian Band), said: “The Mount Polley tailings pond disaster that has affected our communities has reinforced our decision to proceed with this very carefully developed policy, but the impetus for it was the cumulative effect of more than 150 years of bad mining practices and devastating impacts on First Nations in BC.”

“For years we warned that the Mount Polley dam was a disaster waiting to happen and we were ignored. This NStQ Mining Policy is designed to make sure that this does not happen again, and provide us with the tools to monitor and ensure compliance with safety and all other regulation and conditions imposed on any mines that are allowed,” said Chief Louie.

Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake) Chief Mike Archie said: “This is not a draft document; it is a carefully researched and clearly written policy which states what will be required for any mine work at any level to proceed. And we have developed the tools to ensure our people have the knowledge of First Nations Title and Rights, and mining laws and regulations, to enforce it and ensure compliance with any agreements.

“BC’s mining laws need reforming – from free-entry claims staking, to the environmental review process, to the monitoring and enforcement of mine regulations and clean-up commitments – but while British Columbians are being forced to wait for government and industry to wake up to this reality, we intend to ensure that we reform what happens on our lands.”

Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem (Canoe & Dog Creek First Nation) Chief Patrick Harry said: “This is not about ending all mining. It is about ending the practice of anyone being allowed to stake a claim anywhere they want, exploring wherever they want and developing projects regardless of our rights, concerns and objections.

“It is about making sure the right projects are accepted and done the right way, and that their operation, maintenance and adherence to conditions are monitored. We invite government and industry to work with us on this, not fight against us, as we are offering a way forward that ends confrontation and stagnation.”

Amy Crook, Executive Director of the Fair Mining Collaborative said the NStQ Mining Policy was thoroughly researched, took the best of BC government regulations and the best practices of other jurisdictions in Canada and other countries, and built on excellent work already done by the BC First Nations Mining and Energy Council regarding policies and benefit agreements.

“This policy gives First Nations a practical plan and the tools to back it up. It gives them the recourses to deal with governments and companies as equals from a position of knowledge and strength,’’ said Ms. Crook.

Dave Porter, CEO of the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council, welcomed the NStQ Mining Policy, and said he believes industry and all British Columbians stand to benefit from it through more stability and clarity for investment, and improved monitoring and enforcement of mining regulations, conditions and impact on the environment.

“Everyone wants more certainty and to avoid confrontation, bad projects, environmental disasters, and fortunes wasted on stalled and rejected projects,” said Mr. Porter. “I believe First Nations mining policies are essential to achieve this by focusing on sustainable projects whose social and environmental risks do not outweigh the targeted profit benefits for their proponents, and which create genuine shared benefits for all parties.”

Xat’sull First Nation Chief Sellars summed up the policy by saying: “Since colonization it has been the government’s and industry’s way or the highway. That has to change. We are taking the lead in promoting safer and more accountable industry practices in Northern Secwepemc Territory.”

Xat’sull First Nation: NStQ Mining Co-ordinator Jacinda Mack: Cell: (250) 302.1739

Williams Lake Indian Band: Economic Dev. Officer Kirk Dressier: Office: (250) 296 3507 Ext. 116

Link to NStQ Mining Policy:

Link to NStQ Tool Kit:


First Nation in B.C. sets out tougher rules for mining in its territory

Detailed indigenous mining policy produced by First Nations affected by Mount Polley breach

By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press –

2 December 2014

A group of First Nations from Williams Lake, B.C., whose territory includes the area devastated by the Mount Polley tailings pond breach has created a detailed mining policy that will apply to existing, proposed and future projects in
its territory.

Northern Shuswap Tribal Council mining coordinator Jacinda Mack said Monday the policy is not meant to thwart mining in the area, but seeks to ensure the industry is sustainable, environmentally safe and has the support of First Nations.

The 54-page document was developed with the help of experts when the Xat’sull, formerly the Soda Creek First Nation, commissioned the project last year.

The plan was launched before the Mount Polley disaster last August when millions of litres of mine water and waste gushed over the landscape near Likely, B.C., and shut down operations at the Imperial Metals open pit, copper and gold mine.

“This policy isn’t about shutting down mining,” said Mack. “It’s basically saying we have four operational mines in our
territory, and how are we going to deal with them in a way that makes them safer, more accountable and more engaged with us.”

She said the policy is tougher than current mining regulations in B.C. It does not override provincial laws but the group says it will serve as indigenous law for anyone doing mining business in more than five-million hectares of its traditional First Nations territory.

Under the aboriginal policy, mining companies can no longer stake a mineral claim on territory without attempting meaningful consultation with the First Nations, Mack said.

Companies will be held to a polluter pays principle to cover any operational damages and clean-up costs, she said. Environmental stewardship of the area, including potential impacts decades into the future, will be considered before the First Nations support the developments.

“It’s having to come to us with a clear understanding up front of what we want rather than kind of going through government,” said Mack. “This is saying we are a level of government in our territory and you need to speak to us as well, and our standards are higher and our level of scrutiny is beyond current mining legislation in B.C.”

Xat’sull First Nation Chief Bev Sellars said in a statement the document will serve as a rule book for companies wanting to do mining business in the Northern Shuswap territories.

“With this mining policy we can no longer be ignored or imposed upon, and the province and industry can no longer claim they do not know how to work with us — this document spells that out in clear, specific terms,” said Sellars in her statement.

B.C.‘s Energy and Mines Ministry said in a statement it is reviewing the Northern Shuswap’s mining policy document.

“The province is committed to working with First Nations so they can benefit from economic activity in their traditional territories,” said ministry spokesman David Haslam in a statement.

“Over the past four years, the province and First Nations have signed more than 200 agreements, including strategic engagement agreements; reconciliation agreements; economic and community development agreements; forestry agreements and clean-energy project revenue-sharing agreements.”