Today marks two years since a tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley mine breached, releasing millions of litres of tainted water. Now, First Nations in the area are launching a pair of lawsuits claiming damage to their territory.
Jim MacArthur with the St’at’imc cheif’s council says it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of local watersheds to the nation.
“A river with salmon in it is much more than just a river with salmon in it. It’s the backbone of an entire way of life, and a culture that grew out of that way of life, and that culture is still practiced today.”
The St’at’imc, as well as the Soda Creek and Williams Lake bands, are now taking the province and Imperial Metals to court claiming negligence and possible long term damage to their traditional lands.
“Not only do we see an immediate consequence in the people left the river that year, but we will see in four years from 2014, we’ll see what measurable impact has been on the salmon.”
MacArthur says with salmon cycles it could take years to assess the impact, meaning a long court battle.
He also says that while the paperwork was filed this week, he expects they’ll take years to hear back, as the Nations collect data on possible ecological damage.