A company stubbornly pursuing a high risk mine in the heart of a First Nation’s Territory. A First Nation determined to protect its land and culture from this threat. Sound familiar?
A proposed high risk mine threatened a pristine lake that sits in the heart of Lake Babine Nation’s territory at the headwaters of the Skeena River. The pit of the proposed Morrison Mine would sit less than 100 metres from the east shore of T’ak Tl’ah Bin (Morrison Lake), which offers spawning and rearing grounds for plentiful and genetically unique sockeye salmon.
In 2012, a hydro-acoustic survey estimated the sockeye fry population in T’ak Tl’ah Bin to be approximately 1.4 million. As part of its normal operations, Morrison Mine would discharge treated mine effluent into this Lake, in perpetuity. The impacts of a major accident or malfunction could be catastrophic for the sockeye and other fish populations. As such, the Morrison Mine poses an unacceptable threat to the Nation’s primary resources, way of life, and identity.
Fortunately, on February 7, 2022, the BC government made a final decision not to issue an environmental certificate to the proposed Morrison Mine. According to the government’s press release, a key consideration was the potential to affect a unique wild sockeye salmon population that contributes to the Skeena River sockeye.
Lake Babine Nation has steadfastly opposed the proposed Morrison Mine because it would have been built on the Nation’s core Aboriginal title lands, right beside vital Skeena talok (sockeye salmon) spawning grounds. The Mine would have threatened Lake Babine’s yintah (territory and natural resources), food security, and cultural security, the Nation said in a press release.
The RAVEN community has supported Lake Babine Nation since 2014.
What's at Stake?
Lake Babine Nation members have lived, fished and performed ceremonies at T’ak Tl’ah Bin since time immemorial. Their history and sense of identity is deeply rooted in the area, and to this day the Lake and the surrounding lands support their way of life. They are duty bound to protect it.
T’ak Tl’ah Bin is abundant in salmon as well as char, lingcod, trout and whitefish. The marshes at the south end of T’ak Tl’ah Bin provide important habitat for moose and various bird species, which also sustain the Lake Babine people. The ridge on the eastern shore of T’ak Tl’ah Bin is home to numerous grizzly bears, to whom the Lake Babine people are deeply spiritually connected. Lake Babine members also harvest berries and medicinal plants on the shores of the Lake.
The T’ak Tl’ah Bin area is all the more precious to the Nation because of how much of their Territory has been industrially logged and because their Territory is already experiencing long term contamination from the now closed Bell and Granisle Mines.
Even if it functions without any accident, an open pit mine at Morrison Lake would critically and permanently wound the land and the Lake Babine people themselves. A serious mine malfunction like the 2014 Mt. Polley disaster would be disastrous for them.
No Means No
Lake Babine Nation has opposed this Mine since BC’s original environmental assessment, and has steadfastly urged BC to stand with it in rejecting the project. The BC government did just this in September 2012, after an unusually expensive, multi-year provincial environmental assessment. The Ministers for the Environment and Energy and Mines rejected the Mine on the basis that it carried unacceptably high environmental risks and that it was problematic in light of what BC described as Lake Babine Nation’s “moderate to strong” Aboriginal title claim to the area and opposition to the project.
However, the proponent Pacific Booker Minerals (“PBM”) challenged the Ministers’ rejection of Morrison Mine in BC Supreme Court, arguing that the rejection was unfairly based on a secret negative recommendation from the Environmental Assessment Office (“EAO”). In December 2013, the BC Supreme Court sided with PBM and ordered BC to reconsider the application and provide PBM with an opportunity to respond to any negative recommendation by the EAO. On July 7, 2015, BC completed this court-ordered reconsideration and ordered that the Morrison Mine undergo “Further Assessment” to address significant information and analysis gaps in the original project application.
On February 7, 2022, the BC government made a final decision not to issue an environmental certificate to the proposed Morrison Mine. According to the government’s press release, a key consideration was the potential to affect a unique wild sockeye salmon population that contributes to the Skeena River sockeye.
What's Our Goal?
Enough is enough.
Help Lake Babine Nation fight its last battle against Morrison Mine. They require funding to pay for top notch technical experts to support them in BC’s Further Assessment process.
Lake Babine is confident that if the Further Assessment is done properly, it will confirm the serious environmental threats posed by the Mine. They also require funding to support litigation preparations, because should BC ultimately reverse its original decision and approve Morrison Mine, Lake Babine Nation will need to proceed swiftly to Court to seek an Aboriginal title declaration and invalidate that approval. To do this work, Lake Babine Nation seeks to fundraise $250,000 over the next year.
“Thanks to our new EA Collaboration Agreement with BC, Lake Babine will be deeply involved in reviewing proposed mines in our Territory from now on. Proponents who want to build a mine in our Territory need to get to know our people, our values, and our expectations. They need to work with us respectfully and develop projects that are sustainable for our yintah, our rights and our way of life.”
— Chief Murphy Abraham, Lake Babine Nation
RAVEN is encouraging people everywhere to be part of the effort to protect T’ak Tl’ah Bin and the Lake Babine Territory from Morrison Mine. There are three ways to contribute:
Donate online -. Whatever you choose to give will help. Your donation, be it $10 or $1000, goes directly toward helping Lake Babine Nation fight the Mine.
Fundraise online – You can set up your own crowd-funding page, set a target, and reach out to your friends, co-workers and family to help you reach your goal. It takes just minutes to get your own mini-campaign going – and it’s easy and fun!
Host fundraising events in your community. We see it as the best way to raise money and deepen community solidarity with the First Nations leading these legal challenges. Hosting a Join the Circle event can be fun and is a rewarding way to contribute towards the success of legal efforts trying to stop Morrison Mine from being built. Events can be simple – like a car wash or bottle drive, a dinner, a movie night, or a benefit concert. We’ve got supportive materials on hand to help your event be a success! To get started organizing an event, contact RAVEN Trust.
BC EA Collaboration Agreement: https://www.lakebabine.com/first-of-its-kind- agreement-signed-between-lake-babine-nation-b-c/