Fiveweeks have passed since the arrest of 13 Tahltan defending the SacredHeadwaters from Fortune Minerals’ attempts to drill in this revered naturalarea.
FortuneMinerals’ executives may have succeeded in moving backhoes and drillingequipment into the headwaters of the Stikine and Skeenawatersheds, but in the process they have created significant local, regionaland provincial opposition in their haste.
FortuneMinerals’ decision to avoid dialogue with families, Elders and youth concernedabout the Sacred Headwaters may signal the death knell for their open pitmining project.
FortuneMinerals claims it wants dialogue, yet their CEO consistently doesn’t respondto correspondence or requests for information. Let’s recap:
- Although they claim their lawyer responded, James Dennis, Elder from the Tl’abnot’n, never received a response to the letter he sent them in June;
- Nor did Fortune Minerals respond in a timely manner to the compromise offered by the Tahltan protestors in early September that would have allowed 6 studies to take place but no drilling.
Oh,Fortune Minerals did send a letter on September 20-5 days after thearrests-saying that the offer to allow scientists but not machinery past theblockade was “not practical and, therefore, cannot be accepted.”
Insteadof dialogue, Fortune Minerals chose to move aggressively and arrest itsopposition-a dumb, shortsighted move.
Thestupidity of Fortune Minerals’ approach will become clearer on October 30, whenFirst Nations and supporters from across BC will gather in Terrace to showtheir support for the Tahltan arrestees and to share concerns about the pace ofdevelopment in the north.
Andin Victoria on October 31st, the newly formed Indigenous Peoples SolidarityWorking Group will rallying at the legislature at 12:30 pm in recognition ofthe Tahltan Elders’ fight to reject the dispossession of Tahltan traditionallands.
Andsupport for the Tahltan and the Sacred Headwaters is growing. The gathering andthe rallies at hearings and in Victoriawill show Fortune Minerals and the Crown that their plans to fast trackdevelopment have backfired.
Thecourageous Tahltan and their supporters will spend the winter developingstrategies to ratchet up the pressure on Fortune Minerals and its investors.
Shellshould take notice as the rising opposition to Fortune Minerals will inevitablycreate problems for their plans to develop coalbed methane in the SacredHeadwaters
Improveddialogue might avoid a stand off in the spring, but neither Fortune Minerals,nor Shell, seems interested in meaningful engagement. It appears they wouldrather take their chances trying to play various Tahltan groups off against oneanother and hand pick the Tahltan leaders they will consult with.
Idoubt the divide and conquer strategy will work.
We’llkeep you posted.
Please help support our efforts to help the Tahltan protect their traditional territory by donating to Dogwood Initiative.