Indigenous Rights Continue to be Disrespected
“According to information received, the Mount Polley mine was initially approved without an environmental assessment process, consultation with or free, prior and informed consent from the potentially affected Indigenous peoples, and the mining disaster has resulted in a disproportionate and devastating impact on the water quality, food such as fish, fish habitats, traditional medicines and the health of Indigenous Peoples in the area,” UN CERD concluding observations on Canada.
On August 4, 2014, Canada’s Mount Polley gold and copper mine’s 4-square kilometre tailings pond failed, releasing over 24 million cubic meters of water and mine tailings into surrounding waterways; including Quesnel Lake which is a crucial incubator for 25 % of BC’s wild salmon. The tailings pond breach, in the heart of Secwepemc territory, is considered Canada’s largest environmental mining disaster.
To date, no one has been held responsible for the disaster: there have been no fines or penalties levied against the company nor have ongoing criminal investigations resulted in any charges. Canada’s commitment to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is in question over issues like the Mount Polley mine disaster.