For immediate release
Secwepemc te Qelmucw Territory -
The First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and the First Nations Health
Authority (FNHA) are deeply concerned about the environmental and human
health effects of the Mount Polley Mine disaster. The spill coincides
with the Fraser River sockeye run and has created concern about the
safety of food fish.
"It's difficult to express the depth of our
connection to these lands, and the pain and sorrow that have resulted
from this man- made disaster. We don't separate human health from our
relatives, the water and the animals. We are connected as "One".
Yesterday's ceremony marks our sacred duty to speak for those that
cannot speak for themselves."
-Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, First Nations Health Council.
A sacred ceremony held yesterday at the site of the spill marked the beginning of the healing journey.
was an honour to witness the ceremony today and see the strength of
First Nations culture and tradition as a way forward in the healing
process. The ceremony was a means for the local First Nations peoples
to recognize the community of Likely and confirm their intentions to
walk side by side with them through this crisis and to collectively pray
for the health of the land, water, plants and animals."
-Joe Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer, FNHA
FNHA recognizes that there is an important connection between the
environmental impacts of this incident and the spiritual, emotional and
mental well-being of community members.
"We are deeply saddened
by this tragedy. The negative impact on the lands and resources
directly affects the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing
of First Nations peoples, who have occupied these territories since
time immemorial. As a health and wellness partner, we are working to
ensure that the necessary services are in place to support the holistic
health of these communities."
-Dr. Shannon Waters, Acting Senior Medical Health Officer
FNHA is taking the following steps to address all dimensions of health
and wellness within its mandate including: Supporting independent water
testing program for affected First Nations, providing mental health and
spiritual wellness supports, and coordinating the First Nations public
health response with the broader health system. FNHA continues to
participate in situation updates in order to relay the concerns of First
Nations, and to address any public health considerations.
FNHA will be liaising with the First Nations Health Council (FNHC),
Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and BC Ministry of Environment
to understand both the short and long term potential effects on fish
stocks. At this time, fish advisories have been issued for portions of
the Cariboo and Quenel rivers. The Fraser River is not under advisory.
job of the FNHC is to advocate on all matters relating to health.
Clearly the recent tragic events at Mount Polley provide a significant
threat to the water, fishery and people living in and around Mount
Polley. I am pleased that the FNHA is acting quickly to work with First
Nations and carry out independent testing to address fears around water
quality and food safety. As chair of FNHC I will be working with Kukpi7
Wayne Christian and others bringing issues related to breach of the
tailing pond to deputy ministers I work with both federally and
provincially." -Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Chair, First Nations Health Council.
Mount Polley Mine is located within the northern part of the Secwepemc
te Qelmucw (NStQ) traditional territory and is within the traditional
territories of T'exelc Williams Lake Indian Band and the Xat'sull Soda
Creek First Nations.
Download this release in PDF form here. (PDF 135 KB)
For more information contact:
Davis McKenzie | Communications | 604.693.6509
Additional information from Ministry of Environment can be located: