Ross River Kaska weigh benefits of massive lead-zinc mine – by Nancy Thomson (CBC News North – November 23, 2015)

Ross River Dena are weighing the pros and cons of the proposed Howard’s Pass lead-zinc mine, as they prepare to vote on a “socio-economic participation agreement” later this winter.

After months of negotiations, the Ross River Dena Council and Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. reached a preliminary agreement last month. It offers the Kaska, particularly the Ross River Dena, opportunities for training, employment and a share of the mine’s profits.

It also brings a whiff of opportunity to Ross River, one of Yukon’s smaller communities. According to the 2011 census, the average annual income in Ross River is just $31,000.

Over 90 percent of the roughly 350 residents are Kaska Dena. They’ve gone through some tough times in the last 50 years — seeing their children taken off to residential schools and experiencing the social and environmental devastation of the Faro mine.

Selwyn Chihong’s proposed mine in the Howard’s Pass area is enormous. It will eclipse the Faro mine, which was once the world’s largest open-pit lead-zinc operation and also developed on Kaska traditional territory.

This time, the Ross River Dena won’t watch helplessly from the sidelines as their land is developed without their permission or participation. This time the Canadian courts — and the mining industry — recognize that the Kaska own the resources.

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