By Judith Lavoie.
Generations of John Morris Sr.’s family have fished the Taku River in Southeast Alaska and for decades they have watched acid mine drainage from the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine in B.C. flow into a tributary of the Taku.
Now, with a new NDP government, running on support from the Green Party and a shared promise of reconciliation with First Nations and a commitment to the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Morris is hoping there will finally be some action on the Tulsequah Chief clean-up.
Indigenous and conservation groups in Alaska, who are ready to put pressure on B.C.’s new government, are pointing to a previous statement in the Legislature by Green Leader Andrew Weaver who said the Tulsequah Chief gives B.C. “an environmental black eye.”
“We have worked on this for so many years now, one day it’s going to fall on the right ears,” said Morris, spokesman for the Douglas Indian Association. The area around the salmon-rich Taku River is sacred to Southeast Alaskan tribes and cleaning up the mess around the Tulsequah Chief is vitally important, especially given growing unease as larger mines open on the B.C. side of the border, according to Morris.
There are 10 advanced mining projects in the northwest corner of British Columbia. “Hopefully something can be done. As soon as the right people are in the right places (in the new government) there will be some ears we can bend,” he said. Premier designate John Horgan is expected to announce his new cabinet later this month. In a brief statement emailed to The Province, Jen Holmwood, caucus spokeswoman for the NDP, said cleanup of Tulsequah Chief “is a serious issue we’ll be looking into and have to say more on in the weeks ahead.”