Episode 5: Tara Marsden & Trixie Bennett in the Nass & Unuk Watersheds

"We are all connected through this water and we're all connected through the potential for catastrophe."

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This week, Danielle meets with Tara Marsden and Trixie Bennett. While these two women live on separate sides of the Canada-USA border, they are linked by their interwoven watersheds--the Nass and the Unuk, home to the world-class salmon rivers that originate in northwest BC and flow into Southeast Alaska. These iconic rivers and their watersheds have been centers of culture, commerce, and biodiversity for thousands of years and are the lifeblood of the numerous communities and nineteen federally recognized tribes of the region. Yet they face threats due to a large-scale mine that is in development at their headwaters.

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Episode 6 (coming soon)


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Transcript

Danielle | 0:00

I am Danielle Paydli and this is the Freshwater Stream, a podcast about BC’s watersheds and the people who care about them.

Today we are talking about transboundary water issues with two women who live on either side of the Canada/US border.

Tara Marsden, who lives in Hazelton BC, is a member of Gitanyow First Nation. Over her 20-year career, she has worked for a number of First Nations, ENGOs, post-secondary institutions, the province, the BC Forest Practices Board, and most recently the Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

"We have these artificial boundaries between Canada and the US and Alaska, but our cultures are always interconnected."

Trixie Bennett, on the Alaska side of the border, is of Tlingit and Thaltan descent. Trixie works with organizations such as the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), advocating for clean water and localized economies that support her communities way of life.

"Industry needs to pay its fair share. Like I said, we might be open for business but we're not open to be taken advantage of anymore. Not with the oil taxes, not taking down all the trees out of our watersheds. We're gonna be there to voice and stand up for our relatives who take such good care of us."

Although they had not formally met before this interview, both Tara and Trixie have been fighting the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell mine (usually referred to as KSM), proposed for Northern BC.

The project threatens watersheds on both sides of the border which could have devastating impacts on the food security and ways of life for First Nations in Alaska and BC

Risks include contamination of lakes and rivers, poisoning fish and drinking water, loss of habitat for a wide range of animals, tailings dam failure, like we saw at Mount Polley, the cost to taxpayers of clean up, estimated at 5.4 billion in 2014!

Welcome Trixie and Tara. And thank you both for taking the time to connect with me today. I understand that although you both work on connected issues that affect your watersheds, in particular, the KSM mine project, your paths haven't officially crossed yet.

Tara | 2:13

Nice to meet you all. And yeah, I have heard a lot about Trixie and I thought it was neat to sort of meet and be on the fly, doing a podcast together because why not? Right?

Yeah, Tara Morrison with the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs as a consultant now, but I was with them as staff for nine years as well as sustainability director and was pulled in a larger direction with the Healthy Watersheds Initiative in BC recently, and that's the economic stimulus funding from the provincial government. So $27 million for economic recovery, post-COVID and all focused on watershed restoration.

And have been with the whole KSM file since its inception really. Took a brief break when I had my second child and that's when they got their environmental certificate. So I kind of blame me being on maternity leave for them getting their environmental certificate.

I'm happy to meet you and be able to talk about water and KSM today.

Danielle | 3:16
Awesome. Thank you. That's a lot to take on your shoulders. I don't know that you necessarily need to do that.

Thanks Tara. And over to you Trixie.

Trixie | 3:44
Let me practice my Tlingit introduction. (Speaks the Tlingit language.)

I am Tlingit, from the (speaks the Tlingit language) river people. I grew up in Wrangall, also known as (speaks the Tlingit language), the Tlingit name. My clan is (speaks the Tlingit language) from my mom's side. (Speaks the Tlingit language) my dad's the Thaltan one. My grandmother from Telegraph Creek, that's (speaks the Tlingit language). My grandmother from Wrangell, her name is Emma Shakes. My mom was among our many lives.

I moved at Ketchikan, which is a little bit further south from Wrangell, maybe 60 miles? The watersheds that I live in near the Unik. That's where our eulachon and also Wrangell has the Stikine. And that's where our connection comes from, up Telegraph Creek, but I think we're all connected.

I've been working with my tribe for a long time, almost 30 years. Quality management capacity, administrating health care programs and things like that.

In the last few years, I've focused more on wellness and prevention, specifically around our way of life. And connecting people to foods and the environment, of course. And it all goes together. Once you're in love with your foods, you can't help but fall in love with all our relatives, right? The trees, the plants, the ocean. Have turned into quite the water protector.

But I'm also interested in economic development, sustainable and responsible economic development around our precious resources, especially plant medicine. I think the biggest part of our diets that are missing is, I think a lot of us get fresh seafood or eulachons and fish eggs and deer meat. But hardly anybody is using even a fraction of what grows all around us, that we need so much. So a big part of my work is on that and conservation power comes naturally with that, I found. People protect what they love. I know I do.

And some of the work I've been doing is as a tribal council representative on the Southeast Indigenous Trans-Boundary Commission. For the last few years, it's been a group of First Nations representatives and tribal leaders from this side of the border.

Danielle Paydli | 5:48
Wow, thank you both so much. I feel like I've got a little glimpse into your world and what you're passionate about.

You live in two different countries, but your watersheds are so intertwined. So let's start our conversation kind of grounded in the love of the place where we live. Can you each tell me something that you love about your watersheds?

Trixie | 6:08
I love, 'course salmon. I love the clean water. My favourite, of course, is the Stikine River and, and I don't live there anymore. But ever since I was little, whenever we go up there, or anywhere near there, it just you feel the connections, you smell the smells and it just lights up something and you.. I just loved the way it makes me feel, the way it smells. Doesn't matter what time of year you could tell. Like right now I could smell, I could smell the herring. Even at a town like this, Ketchikan where it's a little more urban. I could smell the herring when I go to certain places. Not like I did when I was little, when there was more herring. Because when I was younger, there used to be herring in all the harbours, everywhere you went this time of year, there's herring around for weeks. And now it's a lot less even though the science says that it's doing good. The Indigenous science says otherwise, just from my own family experience and my own eyes.

I guess that's one thing I love about just the smell of the watershed. That is in it from our mountains, and our fish and our birds and everything that contributes to it's awesomness.

Danielle | 7:22
That's beautiful. Thank you.

Tara | 7:26
Yeah, thank you, Trixie. It's almost a cliche, sometimes, you know. Water is life. But when you look in our area, you have lakes and wetlands. You have major rivers, little creeks. And then you have snowpack that feeds into those waterways, and you have glaciers.

And now with climate change, we're seeing glaciers receding, and those glaciers have been in place for thousands and thousands of years. They carry history, and that melt that's happening, and the melt that happens annually every year, you know, it's moving history and our DNA and our you know, our contribution to the ecosystem is shifting constantly. And so when I think of "water is life", that's what I think of, I think of this whole system that is connected.

And we have these artificial boundaries between Canada and the US and Alaska, but our cultures are always interconnected. And so we have those relations. We have Haida and Tsimshian in both countries. For Gitanyow, we have, we have history, with the Tlingit. We have history with the Tsawout. And so these artificial jurisdiction areas of power, have tried to erase that. And, and I think with discussions like this, it means that it's not successful, we were still connected, and we're still building on that history. And we're still living that history.

What I love about, for Gitanyow, the Skeena and the Nass, so Gitanyow is straddled kind of between two watersheds. And both flow into the Pacific Ocean, obviously. And we have our neighbours on the coast who share with us their eulachon, and they share herring and seaweed and halibut and crab. And so everything that we do upstream is going to affect them. And it's this accountability mechanism, water, right? Whatever you do, it's going to affect somebody else. And so you can't make decisions in isolation. So it's a real humbling thing, water, I think.

And for our watersheds, we have, like I said, you know, we have these beautiful mountain tops with snow and glaciers and, and they feed and they cool the rivers and streams in the summer so that the salmon can pass through. And we have the rain that's happening right now in the spring and what Trixie was saying about the smells. For me, my favorite smell is when the water, the rain from the spring hits the dust, because it's so dusty right now. And then the first rain, real heavy April rain comes in, it takes that dusty smell and feeling away and you smell start to smell the cottonwood bugs happen. And it's just like this. It's a biological trigger for all us, things you should do in spring just to smell that. So I really like listening to you talk about that. So that's a little bit about what I love about our watershed and what I worry about, as well. What makes me do the work that I do.

Danielle | 10:48
So you both been working on issues around the KSM mine. So I'm just wondering if you could talk a little bit more about this. Why is this mine of particular concern for your community?

Tara | 11:02
So the KSM mine was introduced or proposed several years ago. And it is outside of Gitanyow territory so it's north of Gitanyow and the main reason why Gitanyow was concerned and involved was the tailings management facility. So large tailings ponds combined with dams that are meant to hold the tailings back. So the location of those would be in basically the headwaters of the Nass River and so in the Teigen and Treaty creeks.

And so our concern was that these tailings facilities would need to be maintained. And what we've learned throughout this process, going back, they got their environmental certificate from the province in 2014. We're now in 2021. But earlier than that, when they first started proposing the project, the size of it, the scale of it, and the potential for acid rock drainage issues as well as the tailings themselves and how they would be held back, and what would happen if those tailings dams were to breach, and how far would those tailings go down downstream. So the Teigen and Treaty creeks flow into the Bell-Irving River and the Bell-Irving flows into the Nass.

So for Gitanyow, we harvest around 10,000 sockeye salmon annually from the Nass River watershed. So those feed are people in Gitanyow and they feed our people elsewhere. So our people come home every fishing season, or they have family that send them jarred fish or smoked fish to as far as away, as you know, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, throughout our community where they all reside. So it feeds a lot of families.

And that was the main concern for Gitanyow and why we forced ourselves into the process really, because being outside of our territory, the government didn't feel they need to consult with Gitanyow. And we ensured that we were consulted. And we were really one of the only ones that voiced opposition, which is unfortunate.

So the tailings management ponds and damns, which I talked about, those would require water treatment for 200 years, at least.

So the mine life is proposed to be 50 years. And then following closure, 200 years of constant diligent management of water. And so that's something that would be really, the bill would have to be footed by the taxpayers of British Columbia. As we've seen with other legacy historic mines in BC is that the company usually goes bankrupt, or becomes another company. They're off the hook once the mine is closed, except for the bonding process. The bonding process in BC is very opaque. It's not transparent. And it's negotiated basically between the province and the company. So they decide how much they want to put down in that bond that is going to protect and maintain water quality over 100 years period.

So we know that tailings dams do fail. And we did our homework throughout the process. And so between 1968 and 2009, there were 149 failures worldwide. Then in 2014. We all know about the Mount Polley mine in British Columbia. And that failure resulted in 24 million cubic meters of mine waste into Quenelle Lake, Hazeltine Creek and other waterways.

So today, in 2021, we know also that there was no charges laid, there was no real public accountability to that company, to Imperial Metals, for that dam failure.

So there's a huge concern for Gitanyow obviously, that downstream impacts are significant. And so while it's not our territory, we want to respect the territorial holders for the mine site itself. We are all connected through this water and we're all connected through the potential for catastrophe, and long term management or required management of water into a future that is really uncertain with climate change and the effects that climate change is going to have on water availability, on glacier melt, and on salmon.

The stress of climate change already on salmon as they are coming up later and later waiting for cooler times. And you know, September instead of July and August. Our salmon runs are coming later and later already because of climate change and they are declining because of climate change and overharvesting. So it is a cumulative impact and it is a significant impact on its own that the Gitanyow are concerned about with KSM and I'll leave it there for now and then let Trixie jump in.

Trixie | 15:56
I guess when I first heard about the KSM mine, I heard that it would hold something like 27 times the amount of tailings that Mount Polly did.

Really scary knowing in Alaska, some of the mining standards are a lot higher standards than in Canada. So there's frequent testing, frequent monitoring of, not just the water, but the mammals that live, the shellfish around the mines. That's good. That's what we're going for. Where we've been working as a tribe around the KSM mine is trying to get the message to our senators, President Biden even, to really look at what's happening in BC, you know, and tell them to literally clean up their act before signing any kind of treaties around clean water agreements.

We've also asked the International Joint Commission to update the treaty so that Indigenous people, First Nations and other tribes in Alaska and the rest of the United States, the transboundary areas, can be consulted as before those mines go in, or they're added on to, or permitted, whatever.

Salmon is a huge industry here, it supports our way of life and pristine waters. That's what brings tourists here and supports that industry. We all know that then it just keeps going in politics. And we just have to be patient and ready for when the opportunities come, like we're doing at a tribal level, to monitor those waters to train our people to monitor them and get that data. And right up there where it counts on your side too, you know, where the mining is actually happening. Because I don't think we're going to stop mines, but we should not carry the whole burden for the rest of the world's cell phones, you know.

There's got to be a lot more work in collaboration with these mining companies and the tribes that are mining their land, which are my people too. Just gotta keep working towards while we have energy.

Danielle | 18:03
Yeah, exactly. And these kinds of collaborations are great because sometimes when we don't have the energy, maybe someone else can have the energy for a little bit and hold that for us and we can take turns.

Tara, you talked about the risk of tailings dam failures and the lengthy cleanup process that's already planned for this mine, like 200 years to manage that cleanup with BC taxpayers footing the bill. Like, that blew me away. And I know that there are related concerns across the border around decision making when it comes to our shared watersheds. 

Trixie, I was watching the video, 'When the Salmon Spoke'. And in it you said Alaska may be open for business but not for exploitation. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Trixie | 18:47
Sure, that was during the time after Governor Dan Levy was elected to office and that was his campaign. That Alaska was open for business. And it was scary for us because, the Pebble Mine deal was going to be happening. What else was going on? And then we had the KSM mine above the Unik and of the Red Chris above the Stikine.

But also we were talking about the roadless rule that's in Alaska, I don't know if you're familiar with. That was put in and a long time ago, I can't remember like 2004 or something. I could be wrong. So that didn't allow for any roads to be built in the Tongass. So there is a big push by our federal representatives back in Washington, Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, Don Young, for years, they've been trying to open the Tongass back up to be able to build roads. And they said it was what was stopping logging and that it was stopping things like hydropower activities, but they were really exaggerating. They just want to open it for mining. That's all there is to it. Over on Prince of Wales Island. It's really rich in minerals. But again, a lot of our foods come from watersheds over there that have already been impacted by big mines like Bokan mine, Uranium mine. A lot of our fishing here has been impacted.

Number one thing is habitat destruction. And that comes with both building and just building homes, you know, building communities. I do plant medicine, I can go gather, I could gather two dump trucks, you know, land of Alaska really is open for business. And in the roadless decision, they didn't appoint any tribes to the process that would come up with a recommendation to the federal delegation and the president. So it really, really was just Alaska. That was his campaign. Alaska is open for business. And that just shook up a lot of people because they knew it was coming.

And we had to be really loud all the time to make sure that we were heard too. Before big projects came into our community or even places like Pebble Mine up in Bristol Bay. Some places are just too precious. And I think our watersheds, all our watersheds are precious. And if you're going to be there, you need to show that you can, you're protecting it and that you can clean it up, just like Tara keeps saying. We're not asking that much, I don't think. Industry needs to pay its fair share. Like I said, we might be open for business but we're not open to be taken advantage of anymore. Not with the oil taxes, not taking down all the trees out of our watersheds. We're gonna be there to voice and stand up for our relatives who take such good care of us.

Danielle | 21:43
Thank you Trixie. You touched on this already a little bit Tara, but given that rivers in this area are really interconnected, can you say something about the impact of political borders when we're talking about a project like KSM?

Tara | 21:59
Sure, so Trixie mentioned the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Trans-Boundary Commission. And so we've been in contact with them. We've been in contact with the southern Alaska tribes on KSM. There's boundaries, there's tribal boundaries, and then there's, you know, colonial borders. And they're very different.

And I think that what the provincial government in our country has, unfortunately, taken advantage of, is that they can make these decisions, and they really don't have a legal duty to those Alaskan tribes. They don't have a legal duty that's strong enough to the state government in Alaska.

So certainly there's been that concern echoed, our concern on the Alaskan side has been echoed. And we have worked with them to try and raise the level of the dialogue on this project.

And so for us, it's respecting people's right to say yes or no to projects. And so again, I want to say that this project is not in our territory, we have to respect the territorial holders who, you know, have signed an agreement with this company. They had their vote, their community deliberated on this, just as we do. And so for us, I guess our threshold for risk is lower, you know, and it isn't about money necessarily. It's about our ability to do what we've done for thousands of years. And there are mines in the area that are operating, and they don't have the same level of risk. And so like Trixie said, it's not about being against mining at all. It is about deciding where's a safe place to put on mine, where's the safe place to put a tailings facility and what type of tailings facility? There's new technology being developed all the time, dry stacks tailings and other tailings management methods. So having that really informed decision-making process and sharing information across the colonial borders to our neighbours, our territory in the north, in the Meziadin area, which is in the Nass watershed. It's, you know, it's a half an hour drive from Hyder, Alaska, like, we're not talking big distances here. And it's an artificial little stop. But you know, you can drive right through it. And next thing, you know, you're in Alaska, right. And so, for us, it doesn't mean the same thing for the colonial government, the significance of those borders is different for us.

Danielle | 24:40
I think it's really important after we've talked about so many of the challenges that we see, to talk about ways forward. You’ve both really weaved that into what you’ve talked about here today and it’s obvious that you both approach your work in a solutions-focused type of way. So let’s take a little bit of time and space to talk about the solutions that you see for this project or other current or future development projects.

Tara | 24:58
So one of the tools that Gitanyow has developed over the years is our land-use plan. And so the Gitanyow (speaks the Gitanyow language) land use plan was really developed for forestry, which is the main industry in our territory. And it's really a management guidebook for industrial development. And so, forestry has been more the subject of land use planning, whereas in BC, there's a two-zone system, there's a no-go zone, which is parks and protected areas, and then basically everything else in the province is open for mineral exploration. So there isn't a lot of planning around, "Is this a good location for an eventual mine?"

And when you have a free entry system like we do, that means that companies can go out and they can stake claims online. They don't have to consult or get consent when they do that. And so you have these ill-planned locations for mines. And when you realize as they do their exploration, while there's a lot of gold here, there's a lot of copper, or silver, we need to go in and you know, there's this economic imperative, then that the company is sort of championing and the government is supporting, they want the economic revenue from the mines. And so it's already too late to say well, let's plan where a good mine site might be. And so it's a very reactive kind of ad hoc process. And so a solution would be to better integrate mining and mineral exploration into land-use planning.

And so this is not anything new by any means. This has been called for as long as I have been doing this kind of work, which is 20 years. So the free entry system is a relic of the colonial era. You know, the gold rush in BC and in Alaska as well, and many other jurisdictions have moved beyond free entry. And so BC has taken small steps, but then always been pressured by industry to abandon any type of legislative reform. So land use planning that involves Indigenous people and a government to government context, and more stringent data, evidence-based rules and regulations around bonding, and around reclamation and cleanup. And then, you know, then you have mines that are going to come to the forefront that are really sustainable, good projects. And you don't have that divisive atmosphere where it's like, as soon as you're opposed to one mine, then you're labeled as anti-mining. It's not the case, right? It's about planning and encouraging and fostering better minds to be developed. 

Trixie | 27:43
Well, I don't think I can say it much better than that. Localized economies, a big deal. You know, I don't know too much about the Thaltan. I know, on their territories, they do mining. And I think there's been an interest, even by our governor, do our own mining and gas exploration up north.

I think it's better than, you know, having someone in a boardroom, you know, across the world, or, you know, deciding what we do here. If we're going to be doing this, then we need to be involved. And I think it will be, like Tara says, those projects that will rise to the top will be in line with our values, the solutions are right there. But it doesn't mean those things and, you know, really affects their bottom line. And again, I think we should be creating industry ourself or inviting, you know, only those that are willing to follow good standards for mining and, or whatever, whether it be cruise ship pollution. We have a lot of things affecting us here, as I'm sure you do up there, too. But cruise ships is another big one.

Another solution is the treaties. We keep getting that UNDRIP. But we see the challenges that you have, you know, with them applying it to you, you know as First Nations. But we're still from downriver, we're asking them to apply it to us in our way of life and more effective downriver when they're creating or looking at industry approving permits and whatnot, that, of course, the solution. We don't need a solution for the solution. You know, what's the strategy to get it done as what we need. And us working together is what it's going to take. The collaboration and, and work together, which we have been doing through SEITC, Salmon Beyond Borders, there's a lot of really amazing organizations. Southeast Watershed Coalition. Everybody wants to protect these watersheds. We keep coming back to the solutions, our localized economies, collaboration, and updating that treaty to make it possible. Make those things possible, because it's really vague.

It's got to be localized decision making that includes Native people too, again, working with First Nations across the border is our best solution. That our people come up with solutions together.

Tara | 30:17
So I just wanted to comment on what Trixie was saying about cross-border collaboration. And I think there's a new legal precedent in BC with, I think its the Sinixt people who have territory in both Washington and then in British Columbia. And so this new ruling saying that, you know, it's a hunting issue in this case, but that these people can cross the border and still access their territory in BC.

And so what does that mean, like Trixie was saying about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People? What does that mean for the province now, of British Columbia, when they say we're going to adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. That applies to all indigenous people, not just the ones who are in the provincial borders, but those that are outside? And there's this recognition, I think, with that case, that the actions and the decisions of the province will have an effect on people outside of their borders, and they can't just say the decision impact of stops at the border because it doesn't, right. So I think there might be something there to explore and to really look more broadly, again, this KSM mine, it was approved under the previous government, we have a new government, we have a new environmental assessment legislation, and we have the new Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act legislation that clearly says, "This provincial government is going to live up to the standards of the UN Declaration."

So this is what we've been calling for. It's, you know, it's seven years later. So let's look at this project again, under these new circumstances that we're in. new legal landscape, new climate change world that we're living in, we have new information about glaciers and how fast they're melting. They're melting at a double the rate that they were six or seven years ago, 10 years ago. So what does that mean for KSM, which is surrounded by glaciers relies on the glaciers for the dilution of the effluence, and has predicted their water quality impacts based on old data? So that's what we're asking for let's reassess this project. Let's look at it with our eyes that we have today, in 2021. And let's look at it with the respect for our Indigenous neighbours in Alaska and elsewhere. And let's, you know, live up to the legislative changes and the promises that this new government has made.

Danielle | 33:00
So I know the two of you have been able to connect here and you'll be able to connect with different groups and cross the border in many different ways as you've been working through these projects.

But I know that not everybody in your communities always have that opportunity, right, to have these types of conversations. So I was just wondering, is there anything that you feel that the people living in your watershed would have to say to the people in the other person's watersheds.

Tara | 33:25
(Speaks the Gitanyow language).. for all of your hard work to protect your salmon, to protect your water, and for all of your efforts to reach out to us across the borders, and to support us when we were alone. (Speaks the Gitanyow language) means I thank you all, I thank you for everything that you've done. And I see your hard work, and thank you to the chiefs and matriarchs and to the people of your communities. And we hope to share a meal with you, a feast in our culture, and share our stories, our histories and work together to protect the water and the fish and the wildlife that rely on that water. (Speaks the Gitanyow language.)

Trixie | 34:19
I would say the same thing. (Speaks the Tlingit language.) Thank you. Thank you for listening. And what we've been saying is, let's work together. Let's keep working together for all of our people, with this, you know, put out our hands to join and implement some of these solutions. And it's working. We've been saying these things for a few years. And I see that pieces are coming into play and let's not let that border keep us apart anymore. Because I really feel like it has.

In our stories the Thaltan and the Tlingit, we came from up the river. We came through the hole in the ice by Wrangall, through the glacier. And we are connected we know that. The salmon connect us. The river connects to us. It's easy to talk to you First Nations people, you understand us here. We probably have the same DNA.

Let's keep working together. And (speaks the Tlingit language) for all the work you've done, especially at Bar River. With a lot of our people don't even know that it was Thaltan people. One of my relatives, Danny Clock, who I never got to meet, that put her life on the line and her family to stop a dam on the Stikine River. A dam that we would have no more five species of salmon anymore. People barely know about that where I'm from. I didn't know about that. All that going on up river. I apologize that we weren't there to help. But we're here to help now. We're here to stand with you now and (speaks the Tlingit language).

Danielle | 36:00
Thank you both so much. I actually wasn't sure what I was expecting from that question. But that was more than I was expecting. I'm actually getting a little bit teary here. That was just really beautiful to see what this conversation can bring. So I just thought I would give this last moment of opportunity. If there's anything that we haven't covered.

Tara | 36:22
I would just encourage the listeners the company, KSM is seeking another extension to their environmental certificate. They've already had one and they are now using COVID as a justification to get another extension and there is an opportunity to have your say to voice your concerns and to support what we're trying to do. You can make those submissions to the environmental assessment office in BC or to your local MLA or, or the Minister for the Environment and Energy and Mines. So please take action if you want and support what we're trying to do.

Danielle | 37:01
Thank you Tara, and after this podcast was recorded, Trixie informed me that the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), a coalition of 15 federally recognized Tribes who are beginning to work with the BC government in its mining permit process has asked the BC Premier to pause approval of new mining permits, amendments to existing permits, and approval of new mining projects until the completion of reviews and consultation begins.

And, during the same time period, SEITC’s human rights petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has entered the admissibility phase.

Canada has been given up to 4 months to respond.

If you agree that there should be a pause on mining until this can be done through proper consultation and decision-making channels, contact your MLA or your talk to your MP and make your voice heard. Further details are on our website for both of these actions at freshwaterstream.ca

Thank you to Tara Marsden and Trixie Bennet. To all the community members that contributed to this podcast, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Brenden MacDonald and everyone who makes this podcast possible.

You can find more episodes at freshwater stream.ca and if you enjoyed it, please subscribe rate and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you like to listen, it really does make a difference.

We'll see you next time when we speak with community members from Grand Forks about logging in the watershed, the flooding that follows and how the government is acting, or not acting, to secure our watersheds. For now, we are going to sign off by listening to what the watershed means to people in Trixie and Tara’s communities.

Community Member 1 | 38:37
Living in Gitanyow, the watershed means a lot to me and my family. It's a place on our territory I can go to find peace. We can go to fish and provide food for our family and extended family. And it's just peaceful. It's being out on the territory and enjoying the views, the sounds, and even the quietness of just being on the territory. I love to fish with my husband, and I look forward to doing it this year and every year after. 

Community Member 2 | 39:43
Our watershed is a clean water source for our daily use. For the salmon, bears, plants and berries and the trees. We all need these resources to thrive and survive, for a healthy lifestyle for our own way of living.

In this episode “Multiple jars are opened and closed.wav” attributed to EskimoNeil (https://freesound.org/people/EskimoNeil/sounds/537295/)


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The Freshwater Stream is a collaborative effort between the Canadian Freshwater Alliance and Watershed Watch Salmon Society.