The Nazko First Nation (NFN) is dumping cold water on a mining company’s hopes for dumping contaminated soil near their mine.
The modern reality of land-based industry is, if you don’t have the permission to operate from the affected First Nations, operation you shall not. So far, the Nazko people are saying no to the CanLava Mining Corporation’s idea of trucking contaminated soil to their existing mine site and dumping it there. They are unmoved even by the company’s engineering plans to ensure it is safe for people and the environment.
The company simply hasn’t invested the time and presence in the Nazko community to foster trust, said chief Leah Stump.
“Nazko First Nation is not in support,” Stump told The Observer. “We respectfully decline their proposal to dump waste in Nazko territory.”
About 100 people attended a public hearing held in the Nazko community this past week, and that message was the dominant theme of discussion.
“We are interested in seeing documents supporting their claims of the non-toxicity of this product, because they are saying its non-toxic and we want to see proof,” said Stump. “And as for communication, the consultation process is supposed to be a long-term communicative two-sided affair. Last minute attempts at communicating is not considered proper consultation or reconciliation. (NFN is) welcoming this organization to sit with our community to discuss this matter.”
The tacit and stated community view is, until the people of Nazko sign off on any industrial use of their unceded lands, public hearings are useless. CanLava has been taking volcanic rock – red vesicular basalt and black scoria – and using it for a number of products like landscaping aggregate, lightweight concrete and fill, and for the popular LavaGrip traction grit so many people sprinkle around their frozen doorsteps or other places to ward off slippage. Despite website links to NFN web pages, and the use of the Nazko logo in their company literature, the relationship between the two is thin at best, said Stump. They have been quarrying the lava material from the Nazko Cone Volcano since 1992, and ownership changed in 2012. That change in ownership has not resulted in the close personal relationships needed for conversations about importing soil not wanted at its original source, according to Stump.
“This mine has been in our territory since before time started,” she said. “Our people utilized the power and the medicine of this area. When they built it to be commercial property, we were not properly consulted. Our people were cast aside and decisions made in our territory without us at the table. It always happens this way. This day and age has to be different. We have to be consulted and we have to make our voice heard. When it comes to bringing contamination to our territory, we stand against this decision. Our territory is not for waste. We are not a dumping ground for anyone and we refuse to accept the lies and manipulation of this product to be good for our land. The answer is no. It is loud and clear. This company has our name all over their website as partners of Nazko But yet no one ever approached us or me as the chief to develop a partnership and yet the misrepresentation of how we are supposed partners gives a misrepresented picture of our community and this company. We stand strong and Nazko will remain confident in our decision opposing this proposal.”
The company has outlined how the proposed soil would, by regulation, not be toxic, the site would be built for guaranteed safety to the adjacent environment and its people, and there business model could involve the NFN as partners in the revenue stream it would create.
“The revenue generated for this type of economic opportunity does not interest us as Nazko First Nation community,” Stump said. “We don’t agree to the dumping.”