The Tahltan are not the only First Nations Fortune Mineralshas been having trouble with.
The utsl K’e Dene First Nation-a small community ofabout 300 people with no road access in the Northwest Territories-recently prevented Fortune Minerals from getting a land use permit to explorefor diamonds near Meridian Lakein their traditional territory.
Fortune Minerals wanted to explore for diamonds in a sacredarea north of their community. Like the Sacred Headwaters this area calledKache (Fort Reliance)is a vital spiritual gathering site for the utsl K’e Dene. It is an importantcultural area where they hunt for caribou in the winter and there are many traplines, cabins, and archaeological sites as well.
Caribou are the foundation of the utsl K’e Dene cultureand Kache is along an important migratory route for the Bathurstcaribou herd. Each spring, the approximately 350,000 caribouin the herd migrate hundreds of kilometres from boreal forest to arctic tundra,following frozen lakes and rivers and snow-free uplands along a steady,unerring path that takes them to the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
How were the utslK’e Dene able to keep Fortune Minerals out of the Kache?
The utsl K’e Dene objected to the permit being issued toFortune Minerals because of its impacts on their Aboriginal title and rights.As a result, the Mackenzie Valley Land & Water Boardreferred the application to an environmental assessment through the MackenzieValley Environmental Impact Review Board.
As the utsl K’e Dene began to prepare for the hearing,Fortune Minerals withdrew their application, stating they did not want to gothrough a whole environmental assessment process just to get a “simple”exploration permit.
Fortune Minerals arrogance and lack of sensitivity to indigenousissues is illustrated by their actions in the Sacred Headwaters and with theutsl K’e Dene. Instead of respecting First Nations, Fortune Minerals seemspredisposed to forcing the issue. In Tahltan territory this is likely to backfire.As the word gets out, and obstacles to their project mounts, this may affect their already shaky financing.
In the affidavits they filed to get the ex parte injunctionagainst the Tahltan, Fortune Minerals officers laid out the precariousfinancial position the company was in.
Julian Kemp, Vice President Finance and CFO of FortuneMinerals stated in his affidavit that, “if the blockade continues and aone-year delay in the permitting process occurs, Fortune Minerals’ share price maydecline … Any impediment to Fortune Minerals’ ability to raise money couldimpact the [Mount Klappan mine in the Sacred Headwaters]
Fortune Minerals isunderestimating its problems in the Sacred Headwaters. It is not just a “fewrenegades” it is a growing movement of First Nations and non-natives workingtogether to protect this sacred place.
On October 30th and the 31st there will be a large gathering in Terrace in support of the Tahltan opposing Fortune’s activities in the Sacred Headwaters. And on October 31, there will be a solidarity protest at the Parliament building in Victoria at 12:30.
We’ll keep youposted.
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