Crossposted from : https://www.facebook.com/yuctnesenxiymetkwecamp?fref=nf
Yuct ne Senxiymetkwe Camp monitors the Imperial Metals Mine tailings spill. These are their updates:
We also spoke with Likely and area residents who were happy to see us maintaining a presence at the site. They shared the on the ground after effects of the spill, negative health effects they and their loved ones were experiencing, and expressed concern for their water. Residents offered support and brought days worth of wood for the sacred fire.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs visited the fire today to talk with land defenders and hang the Secwepemc Okanagan confederacy flag at the camp. We were also visited by Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist, who after taking samples from the spill site described what she saw as hell, there was thick blue film on the water at Quesnel Lake, and the bark was black and falling from the trees nearby.
A Staff Sergeant and Aboriginal Policing Officer from the Williams Lake RCMP detachment also payed the camp a visit after being tipped off by news reporters.
We are keeping the sacred fire going and maintaining the camp but we need your help. We welcome people to visit and join in solidarity and offer prayers to the fire for the water and strength to come together to find a collective way out of this disaster.
August 23rd: 2014:
On the 18th day after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and the 5th day of the sacred fire, camp members were visited by women from the Northern Secwepemc Xat’sull tribe the women brought supplies and warm company to the fire. They sang songs, shared stories and language and reinvigorated all those around them with a renewed sense of purpose and strength. Visitors from Nuxalk nation also stopped by and loaded up the encampment with fresh vegetables and fruit and much needed blankets for our overnight fire keepers. The day passed quickly as several local Likely residents kept camp members company, chopping wood, putting up tarps and tents and sharing stories.
At the encampment, there are now 3 tents set up and visitors and camp members grow in number very day. Camp members are in high spirits with bellies full of food and warm blankets. We welcome all visitors and donations.
August 24th, 2014:
On the 19th day after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and the 6th day of the sacred fire, camp members are busy all day. We get more and more visitors, more and more food, more and more information on what is happening here. We are building momentum, we are building solidarity, we are building a better world for our children.
The day started with a young family joining camp members at the fire, who brought wood, fresh vegetables from their garden and material to make banners for the encampment. We learn so much from these kinds of visits and are starting to get a fuller and more detailed picture of the disaster, the mine and Imperial Metals’ plan or lack thereof for cleanup.
Two Secwepemc men were on their way home from fishing and drove by the camp, and after seeing us, turned right around, came back and offered 2 large salmon for the camp.
We see more and more of our neighbours every day, local Likely residents and surrounding Secwepemc residents, who stay longer and longer and find it harder and harder to leave. Today the Thompson River University language immersion class from Xatsull (Soda Creek) made a field trip up to the camp and talked about learning the language and making drums. They shared a song they had composed in their class about the singing loons we hear at the camp every night. Several Likely residents spent the entire day at the camp, doing work and sharing food.
Chief Ann Louie from the Williams Lake Indian Band had visited two days ago and promised to resupply the sacred fire and camp with fire wood, today she sent a counselor from the band with a truckload of wood. We also had a visit from the local chapter of the Council of Canadians and a friend and organizer from the city. They brought groceries, strategized with camp members and visited Likely to see about the sediment plumes being found in Quesnel Lake.
The day ended with Doreen Manuel who will be joining the camp for a few days, delivering 30 fish sent by Elder June Quipp from Cheam and more groceries from Capilano University.
The sacred fire is calling people together, we see it happening every day. We have made arrangements for elders and children to be housed in a cabin nearby with heat and showers. We have so much food and information to share and we can’t wait to see you here.
August 25th, 2014:
On the 20th day after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and the 7th day of the sacred fire, camp members are treated to a very special feast. The day was spent preparing, feasting and reuniting with family and loved ones. Secwepemc Elder Jean Williams from T’exelc brought a spring salmon from Nuxalk, potatoes and corn and proceeded to instruct camp members on the traditional way of cooking salmon. The food was cooked over a newly finished food pit and was more than enough for camp members and visitors.
Evelyn Camille, Gary Billy, Stewart Dick arrived in time to eat with us from Kamloops and Neskonlith. The meal was delicious and filled our bellies full. While we ate, we discussed with our new arrivals the information we had collected and made plans with them to move forward. We decided to announce a community feast for this Thursday and invite Likely residents as well as Secwepemc to gather around the fire to do the same thing we did today. We have fish and food to share.
We are gathering our data on the spill and after speaking with, among others, an environmental technician working at the lake, are anxious to release a report this week on all that we’ve learned.
August 26th, 2014:
On the 21st day after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and the 8th day of the sacred fire, camp members welcome visitors from all over. On the way back home from hunting and fishing, a Secwepemc family from Williams Lake donated a deer heart and a spring salmon as well as some treats for children at the camp.
Celia Nord, wild salmon advocate, also visited the camp from Chase and brought with her a large donation from Discovery Organic foods, peaches, oranges, apples, rice, beans, carrots and so much more.
We heard from a videographer who reached Polley Lake and was chased away by security that has been hired and tightened up since the spill happened. This heightened security along with a lack of answers from Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine about what they’re doing or not doing is confusing and seems to camp members and locals who have also bumped up against heightened security, incriminating in and of itself.
The re-issued water ban and advisory was a topic of concern and conversation at the camp today with local residents expressing anger, frustration and confusion. Can they drink the water? Are they being lied to? Who can they trust?
A Secwepemc woman who has done extensive research on other Imperial Metals mines, Ruddock Creek and Red Chris, made it to our camp today and is staying the week to help us write our report and connect all three mines and the issues and impacts they have on our communities.
The camp is actively deploying and surveying the surrounding area, teams of people were sent out today to gather information and confirm reports and concerns brought to the camp by locals in the area.
We finished off our evening with a feast and serenade by the famous Secwepemc Wally Churchill. We ate the deer heart, salmon, rice, corn and greens while reviewing our week and strategizing for the days ahead.
August 28th, 2014:
On the 23nd day after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and the 10th day of the sacred fire, camp members woke up early to prepare for tomorrow’s community feast and meeting. Our fire keeper had been charged by his elders to plant a prayer stick as close to the devastated land and water as possible. And so, a delegation was sent from the camp to Hazeltine Creek a kilometre from the tailings storage facility and Polley Lake. Upon arriving, the stench of chemicals was overwhelming and caused instant nausea, the devastation was overwhelming. Plant life had been seared into the ground, burnt by the metals and chemicals in the tailings. Most upsetting of all was the sheer amount of animal tracks in and around the impacted area. Cougars, bears, moose, deer, birds, all had come searching for water, for the small creek they’d always known to be here. What they had found was death. It was with heavy hearts that the delegation planted the prayer stick and left the area, making their way back to the camp.
While the delegation was away, back at the campsite, camp members were busy with making banners, organizing and reorganizing food and supplies and cooking. We were also very busy with writing our initial assessment report, the first independent report to come out of this disaster, compiling all of the information we’ve learned from workers, residents, Imperial Metals and the government.
The magnitude of the devastation and the intensity of the impact zone is something that does not and cannot translate via film or video. The scope of the long term impact to the land and life of this territory is nothing short of fatal. This cannot be forgotten, this cannot be overlooked, this cannot be allowed to happen again.
On the 24th day after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and the 11th day of the sacred fire, we celebrate. Today was our community meeting and feast day and it was also the day we released our 20 page Initial Assessment Report on the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility Breach. Today was a day of victories.
We started cooking late yesterday and woke up to continue filleting fish, cooking up potatoes, squash, carrots, quinoa and so much more. A Secwepemc man from Williams Lake even set up his mobile bannock stand to cook up enough bannock to feed an army. Time passed quickly and people from all over, Secwepemc, St’at’imc, Tsilhqot’in, Nuu Chah Nulth, Likely, Clayoquot Sound, Green Party members and media began arriving early in the afternoon. As the day went by, more tents went up, including a wall tent purchased through the generous donations on our fundraiser site that we’re so excited to use!
The camp filled up quickly with people and the extra tables filled up even quicker with food. As dinner was being prepared, people sat and gathered around the fire, singing, drumming and sharing. It felt like magic. We must have had about 100 or so visitors, 5 Chiefs attended, Grandmothers, mothers, medicine women spoke and sang at the fire, Chief Darrell Bob and Chief Michelle Edwards from St’at’imc, Chief Francis Alec from Pavilion, Chief Mike Archie Secwepemc from Canim Lake and Chief Roger Williams from Tsilhqot’in.
Chief Roger Williams, instrumental in bringing about the Supreme Court Tsilhqot’in decision was presented with our 20 page Initial Assessment report and so were all the other Chiefs present. This report will be posted on this page tomorrow morning and can be emailed to you by request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are very quickly assembling our own independent panel of experts to assess and bring their knowledge to the site and situation. It’s an exciting time.
All said and done, it was a very special and very powerful night. We danced, we sang, we feasted, we met, we loved, we grieved and we were all gifted with a great sense of hope and strength. Today was a victory, tomorrow will be a victory and so will the day after that, the day after that and the day after that. To everyone that attended, thank you, to everyone that couldn’t, we missed you.
On Day 25 of the disaster and the 12th day of the sacred fire, the camp is strategizing. Today the salmon are running and there are still no clean up efforts, no clean drinking water in Likely and the Department of Fisheries and Ocean is still nowhere to be seen.
Camp members spend all day on the phone calling doctors, biologists and mining watch experts. The camp is already gearing up to release a second report, collecting evidence and opinion from experts not connected to Imperial Metals or the provincial government so that the resulting information is independent and less likely to be influenced by corporate or political/economic interests. While we collect information for our second report, the report released by the camp yesterday is disseminating information that the provincial government and Imperial Metals do not want disclosed.
To date there is no clean, fresh, safe drinking water for the town of Likely and so today we send delegations out to Likely and up Spanish Mountain to investigate the water situation and what we find is infuriating. Neither Imperial Metals nor the provincial government has made any plans for residents here to have access to clean water and today Spanish Mountain, where people are being advised to get their water from, was closed due to high levels of arsenic in their water.
We are almost a month out of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley disaster and there are still no plans for clean up, no tailings containment efforts, but truck traffic has only increased in and out of the mine. Imperial Metals is selling off their stockpiles and assets and none of the money is going to any kind of clean up efforts.
By the end of the night, we are joined around the fire by journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and family today and we spend time eating, sharing and working late into the night on legal strategy.
August 31st 2014:
On Day 26 of the disaster and the 13th day of the sacred fire, the camp sends out a delegation to Cariboo River. The salmon have started to run and some local residents were eager to take members of the encampment out to see them jump up the falls on their way to their spawning grounds. Camp members came back with tears and with laughter. Tears for the utter destruction and loss Imperial Metals has reeked on this community, on our relatives. Laughter to see the fish strong and swimming up a waterfall that roars like a jet plane.
Nicole Schabus and Arthur Manuel make breakfast and provide new energy and powerful new perspectives to the work the camp and the fire is doing. A new friend from Salmon Arm, Secwepemc territory, visits today bringing with him two boxes of fruits and vegetables he’s grown. We’re so grateful to have him with us. A Secwepemc/Tsilhqot’in family stops by on their way back from picking berries, leaving some for camp members and feeding some to the fire.
Winter’s coming and the rain comes with it. Camp members are working hard and sacrificing so much to keep the fire lit and strong all day, all night. It’s been almost two weeks since we came up here with little more than firewood and hope. We now have a full encampment, kitchen, storage tent, food for days and days and days, a community of nations and love. So much love. It’s possible, with faith and prayers and strength, it’s possible for all of us to build something better, cleaner and free from these shackles of greed and individualism.
It’s an exciting time for us here. People from all nations are regular visitors, supporters, camp residents and camp followers, and so the camp is building a wide and far reaching strategy, bringing together all of us with the common goal of protection and defence of water and of this territory.
September 1st, 2014:
On Day 27 of the disaster and the 14th day of the sacred fire, the camp is busy. We are visited by our Secwepemc Elders who had gone to the high mountains, where the most powerful medicines and berries grow, to survey the disaster from a new vantage point. They spoke to us about the devastation they saw, the grey sludge that is coating what once was Hazeltine Creek, that was quickly moving into the waterways and visible in the lake. They harvested one of our most powerful Secwepemc medicines and brought it to us to open our minds and guide our hearts.
We spend our day connecting to the fire, cooking and eating together. One of our camp members cooked a traditional Indian meal from her ancestral home, roti from scratch and a curry with all of the home grown tomatoes and onions we were gifted from Salmon Arm. She is in the process of decolonization, reclaiming her language and her food. While we eat, we talk about colonialism, displacement and dispossession, we talk about the destruction of our lands and our water, we talk about how our struggles are all connected and that if we don’t empower ourselves to take action, if we don’t do it, nobody is going to.
We also spend time assembling our expert advisory panel and are gearing up for our attack. The work this camp has done is the first step, the work we are all going to do is the next one.
There’s so much to do, we have a responsibility to each other and to our future generations. We have a responsibility to the land, the water, the salmon and all of our relatives. Let’s live up to it.
On Day 28 of the disaster the sacred fire has spread. We celebrate the two weeks we’ve spent in the Northern part of Secwepemc territory at Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe. On direction of our elders, we are continuing our struggle, we are breaking camp, we are coming down from the mountain. We have spent time learning and sharpening our focus while we built a busy and beautiful encampment stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, salmon and deer.
We are ready to take all of the information we’ve gathered to the Nation, the People. We are ready to send runners to each Secwepemc community to listen, learn and speak, to share all of the things we’ve learned in these last two weeks.
If we want to be true stewards, true caretakers of our land, we must be good watchers, monitors and protectors, we must be actively on the land. Only we can do this, we’ve learned that the government, the corporations, those “in charge” are not true stewards or true caretakers.
We’ve learned that a small number of people supported by communities and Nations can do big things. Can reach hundreds of thousands of people, can gather nations and strength, can expose truth in lies and most importantly find answers where once there were only questions. Now imagine what a unified Nation of People could do, will do.
We honor all of the People that responded to the call of the fire, there were so many of you. The elders that came to show us how to cook salmon over a fire, the berry pickers who dropped off buckets full of huckleberries, the local residents who took shifts watching the fire at night, moved in with us and opened their hearts and their minds, the women who came to sing, the fishermen and the hunters with fresh meat for the camp, and everyone else who gave prayers, thought of us and sent us strength and courage. There’s so much to do and we’re going to keep needing all of you.
We’re building everyday, each of us has a part of a solution, a piece of a bigger puzzle. When we come together we can see so much, do so much, be so much. The time is now, the place is here. Although we broke camp, this fire continues. It burns in everybody. It spreads quickly. It can do great things.
For the women, a special message from our elders. This fire was started by women. You are powerful. You must take your role and responsibility seriously. Men have had their time, it’s women’s time now, we’re coming in to the positive. We are rebuilding, reclaiming, reknowing, rewilding.
Learn from the past, prepare in the present to defend the future.
The Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe camp Facebook page continues as we count days from the disaster and share the work we are all doing.
Secwepemculecw wel me7 yews, wel me7 yews
September 3rd, 2014:
On Day 29 of the disaster, the fire in our hearts is burning strong. Late last night, on our way back to Neskonlith, we stop at Adams Lake, a part of the water system that would be effected if we allow Imperial Metals to go through with their plans for a lead and zinc mine at Ruddock Creek. After seeing the utter destruction the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine wrought on Northern Secwepemc territory, we vowed to protect our waters. This is a responsibility we all hold, and only when we stand together will we fulfill it.
This morning, we were listening to CBC radio and heard Imperial Metals publicly admitting they are taking no action to meaningfully clean up the mess they’ve made and are focusing on emptying Polley Lake. This would take at least 100 days, which means clean up of the toxic sludge coating what once was Hazeltine Creek will not occur until at least the spring. They went on to say they had raised millions of dollars, through an unsecured debt instrument, that would not be going to clean up efforts but would be spent instead on their Red Chris mine project further North in Tahltan territory. The provincial or the federal government sit quietly by, protecting the corporation and themselves in the process. This cannot and will not be allowed. The people are grieving, the people are full of dignified anger and outrage and the people will not allow this to happen again.
And so we bring the urgency and the first hand accounts to all of you who are reading and to the elders and people in our communities. Today camp members visit Elder Wolverine and Elder Flo, Ts’peten (Gustafson Lake 1995) defenders, on the Adams Lake reserve. We present what we’ve learned, we present pictures and maps and video from the site. We plan our community meeting and strategize on where the government is weakest and how to expose these weaknesses.
We also spend time on the phone, calling nationally and internationally and are quickly building a strong and independent team of experts, scientists, lawyers, elders, engineers, who will guide us and help us build a broad and powerful truth and movement.
The place is here and the time is now. The corporations and government destroy without any impunity. A special message from Elder and warrior Wolverine: As people, we are the true decision makers on the land and once we let go of structures of destruction and oppression, we will make better decisions, we will build a better world.
September 5th 2014:
On Day 30 of the disaster, we move. Some of us take off to the Island to reunite with friends and family, to share our rage and our stories. Some of us are in Williams Lake and Soda Creek, spreading the things we have learnt and continue learning. Some of us are in Kamloops with Secwepemc and Okanagan friends and family, presenting, plotting and planning. Some of us are in Vancouver, organizing.
The fire is spreading, quicker and quicker every day, we’re all feeling the anger, the outrage that the media, the government and Imperial Metals are trying to dismiss. This week, there were no meetings held in Likely. Since the spill happened, the provincial government and Imperial Metals held town hall meetings with the community, this week, nothing. This, immediately following the corporation’s public admittance on CBC radio that there are no plans for clean up at least until Spring. It’s obvious that the corporation, hand in hand with the government, is making a quick and dirty getaway.
Two days after the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine tailings damn breach, in Mexico, the Grupo Mexico Buenavista Copper Mine tailings storage facility also breached. Grupo Mexico has been fined millions of dollars and criminal charges have been laid. Meanwhile, Imperial Metals is opening up more mines and mountains, destroying more rivers and lakes. The government and the RCMP will not hold them accountable and so the responsibility falls to us, collectively. If Imperial Metals is allowed to continue, the blame falls to us, collectively. So do something, do anything, get angry, get acting.
Today, we spend time talking to independent film makers, biologists and lawyers. We talk conferences and class actions. We talk meetings and direct actions. We are all fighting and soon, we will all be winning. Our water is precious, our salmon are precious and all that depends on that salmon is precious. We will all protect it in the ways we can and the ways we must.
Today, we are making alliances within and between our Nations. The Secwepemc will be doing presentations and holding meetings through the fall and the winter at home and in surrounding impacted communities. We suggest all should start doing the same. There is power in our families and our communities. We are more determined than ever to stop Imperial Metals from opening another mine in Ruddock Creek. We are more determined than ever to stop the Ajax mines from going through. We are more determined than ever to stop the pipelines, the fish farms, the tar sands, the logging. Any and all means necessary.
September 5th, 2014:
On Day 31 of the disaster, Imperial Metals is not cleaning up, Imperial Metals is not being charged, fined or held to account for what they have done and will continue doing, Imperial Metals is continuing operations at their Mount Polley Mine, moving assets and shuffling cards to continue to push to open Red Chris mine in Tahltan territory and Ruddock Creek Mine in Secwepemc territory. Imperial Metals does not have and has not had consent to open any of these mines. Not from the Indigenous nations, unceded and unsurrendered, they operate in, or from residents in the area, who are directly effected when these mines destroy and pollute the environment around them. Have any of us consented to unchecked and unregulated mining? Have any of us consented to arsenic, mercury, lead, copper and selenium in the water we drink, the salmon we eat, the territories we exist in? Have any of us consented to being subject to heavy metals poisoning, for our children to be subjected to heavy metals poisoning? We have not. We have never been asked for consent, we will never be asked for consent and so we will not wait to be asked for consent. We will act, we will act in unity, we will act in our communities and we will act for us, our families, our salmon, and our future generations. For if we do not, we will look back and we will regret, we will wish we had acted and acted strongly, acted without hesitation, we will wish we had protected our water, we will wish we had stood with the Secwepemc, the Tahltan, the Wetsuweten, the Gixtsan, the Nuu Cha Nulth, the St’at’imc, we will wish we stood with the true protectors and stewards of the land.
So now we must organize. We must gather our friends, communities and our families. We must talk about effective actions and outcomes worth achieving. We must go beyond protest signs and street side rallies. We must drop banners. We must stop the boardroom meetings. We must occupy corporate spaces and buildings. We must not allow this false economy to keep “operating”. We must stand in the way of the destroying machine. We must put our bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and we must make it stop.
Today we are in the process of what will be bigger things. Today we are assembling our armies. Today we are making ourselves free, finding our allies, those we will act with independently. Today we know the meaning of solidarity. Today we are applying all of these things. Today we are starting the fires of victory. Tomorrow we are burning.