Bev Sellars is the former chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in whose territory the Mount Polley mine is located.
For nearly 200 years, since the colonial mining free-for-all of the mid-1800s, Indigenous peoples across what is now British Columbia have watched as their rights were disrespected, their lands degraded, and their rivers and lakes poisoned by companies whose only interest was making money and then moving on.
Little has changed since then. A new mining boom fuelled by growing global demand for B.C. resources to support clean technology and backed by favourable government policy means the mining industry can continue to treat the province as a money pit with scant regard for the safety of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who live here and the environment that means so much to them.
The current B.C. government believes it has done an admirable job of tightening mining laws since it took power, and the industry says it too has improved safety and environmental performance.
While that may be so in the context of the totally inadequate mining regulations of the past, it falls far short of emerging global standards for sustainable mining centred on respect for human rights and the protection of communities and the environment.
Suppose B.C. truly wants to live up to its claim to be a world leader in the provision of clean-tech mineral and metal resources.