Local First Nations Lay Claim to Jacko Lake and Environs

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on June 18th, 2015 11:45am

In a stunning move, June 17, Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation declared title at Jacko Lake and surrounding area.

Here is the Press Release, followed by an invitation to the public to attend a ceremony Sunday, June 21, 9 - 11 am at the Jacko Lake boat launch.

Stk’emlupsemc of the Secwepemc Nation declare aboriginal title at Pípsell (Jacko Lake and surrounding area), an area currently connected to the proposed KGHM Ajax Copper-Gold Project near Kamloops, BC, located within SSN Territory.

The proposed Ajax Mine site is located in Pípsell (Jacko Lake and its surroundings) which is a cultural keystone area with significant spiritual and historical importance to the SSN. The area is connected by the epic oral history titled in English The Trout Children stemming from Jacko Lake and its surrounding which explains the deeds of Secwepemc people on the lands and to the land as inseparably connected. Pipsell and its Secwepemc stsq’ey’ (indigenous laws) provide the narrative foundation for ownership and stewardship of Secwepemc lands and resources. The Secwepemc law concept of x7ensq’t (the land and sky turning on you) is directly connected to this area because it is imbued with spiritual power due to past events and where we have a special responsibility to safeguard the respectful relationship with the land, lest the land and sky turn on you.

In May of 2015, the Province of British Columbia issued a revised Strength of Claim re-assessment confirming that in consideration of the Tsilhqot’in decision, and in consideration of additional information provided, the SSN have strong prima facie claims for both Aboriginal Rights and Title in the vicinity of the proposed Ajax Mine Project. The Province has also acknowledged that the proposed Ajax Mine project including an open pit mine and associated infrastructure could have serious impact on SSN’s Aboriginal Interests.

SSN asserts sovereignty and full control over SSN territory. By this political declaration, SSN hereby puts the Provincial and Federal Governments on notice of its Aboriginal Rights and Title in Pípsell and of their responsibility to preserve SSN’s Aboriginal Interests. The Governments should stop their interference with SSN Aboriginal Rights and Title in this area. SSN will no longer stand by and watch the Governments invade SSN territory and destroy a culturally keystone area where SSN continue to carry out traditional and cultural practises including an Aboriginal Trout Fishery on Jacko Lake. The first and now abandoned Ajax mine in this area destroyed the land without SSN’s permission and left the old Afton Tailings Pond that continues to put SSN members and local residents at risk. The new Project plans to continue the legacy of wrongs in the SSN’s territory by interfering with SSN’s Title and the right to decide the use and preservation of the land and resources for future generations. SSN’s sovereignty will no longer be ignored.

All activities and developments on SSN Territory must be consistent with SSN Laws. No Project will proceed except with the informed consent of SSN. SSN will continue its preparations to conduct its own assessment of the proposed Ajax Mine Project using its own laws and jurisdictional authority. SSN’s project assessment will respect the SSN’s Aboriginal Rights and Title (ownership) to the lands and resources and include decision- making power (jurisdiction) on how the land is to be used and preserved for future generations.

Secwepemc leaders, community members, spiritual leaders, elders and youth will gather to bear witness to the Declaration of Title “Stk’emlupsemc ell yecwmin’mens re Pípsell” on Sunday June 21 @ 9 - 11am at Pípsell (Jacko Lake) . The public is invited to attend this historic event.  After a welcome song & prayer, there will be a declaration of title by the Tk'emlups and Skeetchestn bands.  This will be followed by declarations from the Shuswp Nation Tribal Council and the Secwepemc Elders Council.


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