Kukstemc Kleco Ociem. We thank everyone who came out to the Second Anniversary of Mount Polley Mining Disaster on August 4, 2016. We had many diverse groups such as Ancestral Pride, Downtown Eastside Power of Women, Native Youth Movement, No One Is Illegal, Rising Tide, Unist’ot’en Solidarity Bridge, Alliance Against Displacement, and Council of Canadians in attendance and sharing knowledge and experiences. The event was a great success with over one hundred people traveling all across Turtle Island to attend — even a bus from Vancouver.
The Secwepemc Women Warrior Society and the Secwepemculecw Grassroots Movement welcomed participants to witness and understand the pain and the devastation that occurred on Secwepemc Territory (Shuswap People and Territory) as a result of the mining disaster. Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine has committed acts of harm and gross misconduct to the land, water, and air. They have violated our Indigenous Rights and Title and our human rights.
The Mount Polley Mine tailings spill has created a toxic legacy and they have not rectified the situation. The tailings are still at the bottom of the waterways which directly impacts the land and water not only for the people of the area, but for all who live downstream. The discharge permit issued for Hazeltine creek is allowing the Mount Polley Mine to continue to pollute and desecrate the sacred ancestral village that once existed at that site. Meanwhile, the provincial government is in collusion with Imperial Metals to keep everyone in the dark about their dangerous mining practices.
We all gathered together for the two-day event that featured workshops from Ancestral Pride, Sara Kendall, Bob Ages, Harsha Walia, Jen Castro and Chrisse Oleman, and finished with blockade training and an actual blockade. We trained participants on how to effectively conduct a soft blockade in a peaceful and safe manner, as well as demonstrate de-escalation tactics.
We allowed all vehicles out of the blockade, but no one was allowed in. Kanahus, April, Sacheen, Harsha, Havana, Crystal and Bob turned away over 50 vehicles from entering the mine site and we effectively shut down the mining operation for over four hours! Our intention was to show Imperial Metals, Canada, and everyone that we can and will shut this mine down in assertion of our Indigenous rights and UNDRIP that Canada has just signed on to.
For our media release and photos of the blockade:
At about 6:00 pm, a mining employee in a smaller 4 door, dark blue vehicle and front plates mudded over, gained speed as he was leaving the mining site and approaching the blockade. He would not stop when we were attempting to speak to him and provide him with information as to why we were taking this direct action and blockade. Instead he aggressively drove towards women, children and elders. Several people tried to inform him that there were children at the blockade and to slow down. He kept coming fast and to prevent herself from being run over, Sacheen climbed onto the hood of the car and the roof. The driver sped up with full knowledge of what he was doing and violently threw her off of his vehicle and onto her back causing her injury. The callous disregard for human life, including women, elders and children, was very apparent to all who were present. There were about 30 witnesses to the crimes and violence he committed.
Watch video of the assault:
Sacheen was taken to Caribou Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake and put in a neck brace and received x-rays to ensure that she did not break any bones or sustain any head injuries. She was released with painkillers as well as received a shock to her whole musco-skeletal frame for her back spasming. She is very lucky she did not break her neck, back or sustain any more serious injuries. We are relieved that there were no other casualties.
The next morning, Sacheen, Kanahus Manuel and April Thomas to the Williams Lake RCMP detachment to lodge a legitimate police complaint regarding the assault Sacheen received at the hands of Imperial Metals mine worker.
Staff Sergeant Mark Smith took all three into a room and aggressively confronted them. He stated off the bat that Sacheen can be charged with mischief. As he stood over us, he was shaking in anger and stated that Sacheen should not bother with moving forward with her complaint. Kanahus and Sacheen both asked why he was being so rude and aggressive. April told him that he was violating our human rights because he was not being cooperative was taking sides with the industry workers. He stated we are all lucky not to be arrested because he saw the video from other people sending it in and said that Sacheen should not have been climbing on someone’s car. Sacheen was understandably shocked and traumatized and responded by asking the Staff Sergeant how this could be true when the man driving was attempting to run her and other people over without stopping. We were treated so disrespectfully and unprofessionally by the RCMP. When Kanahus accused Staff Sergeant Mark Smith of being racist he said, “You want to pull the race card, GET OUT, GET OUT,” as he pointed us out the door of the statement room without taking Sacheen’s statement.
Watch video at RCMP detachment: https://www.facebook.com/queen.sacheen/videos/10157377062620637/
Read blog about how to advocate for Sacheens human rights:
According to Secwepemc grandmother April Thomas, who just recently traveled to the United Nation to speak to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “The conduct and behavior of the RCMP during and after the blockade is yet another fine example of the level of abuse of power, bias and lack of cultural sensitivity faced by our people. Their actions are cultural genocide being committed in order to further oppress our people, in an attempt to further steal our unceded and unsurrendered lands, along with all its rich resources.”
“To witness such a disregard to my sister Sacheen’s life was very traumatic, especially when our blockade was a peaceful action, with elders, women, and families present. The RCMP, the province and Imperial Metals continue to prove that they work hand-in-hand to violate our rights as Indigenous peoples and ignore our authority and jurisdiction over our own unceded territories,” further says Kanahus Manuel.
“Voices from the Blockade at Mount Polley” event in Vancouver will be held on Wednesday August 10, Prisoner Justice Day, featuring Cecilia, Kanahus, Sacheen, Havanna, Crystal and Carol:
Mining and raping our native lands is closely tied to violence and racism towards Indigenous women. We are Indigenous mothers and grandmothers who refuse to back down. Imperial No More! Stop Mount Polley!