Alaska group raises international concerns in Ottawa over B.C. mine operations – by Bruce Cheadle (Vancouver Sun – June 16, 2016)

Ottawa — A delegation from Alaska says it is time to enforce the century-old Boundary Waters Treaty between Canada and the United States when it comes to northern British Columbia mining activity. The group is in Ottawa this week seeking to enlist federal help in stopping B.C. copper and gold mines from polluting the headwaters of key salmon rivers that flow from Canada into Alaska.

They’re also pushing the U.S. State Department to refer the matter to the International Joint Commission, which was created under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty to help resolve disputes along internationally shared waters.

Frederick Otilius Olsen, an indigenous tribal vice-president from Kassan, Alaska, says the catastrophic failure of the Mount Polley mine tailings dam in 2014 was a “huge wake up call” that galvanized concerns over what he sees as British Columbia’s lax mining regulations.

Olsen heads an organization of 15 federally recognized tribes in southeast Alaska who have banded together to demand a say in resource decisions that affect their lives, and to reach out to B.C. First Nations in the common cause of saving the environment.

The Alaska group is meeting members of Parliament in Ottawa and has a sit-down on Friday with Bruce Heyman, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, but won’t meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who just happens to be in Burnaby today meeting B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

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