On Friday Simpcw First Nation and Adams Lake Indian Band Chiefs disavowed a story that appeared Tuesday in a Kamloops newspaper that said they were opposed to the Ruddock Creek project, a lead zinc mine proposed by Selkirk Metals (a subsidiary of Imperial Metals Corp.).
The newspaper article reported that the Secwepemc people issued a declaration opposing the project, and that Simpcw First Nation had “backtracked” on a cooperation agreement it signed with Selkirk Metals in 2011.
Simpcw First Nation Chief Rita Matthew said, “Firstly, only Simpcw Council speaks on behalf of Simpcw, and while we acknowledge that there are concerns about the watershed area of the development, it is recognized that the company is still in the exploration phase. Simpcw will not take a position either for or against Ruddock Creek until we see technical details that would allow us to measure long-term environmental damage and risks against potential economic benefits.”
Chief Nelson Leon of Adams Lake Indian Band further stated, “This is a classic case of a newspaper lumping everyone together as Secwepemc without bothering to check as to who speaks for our community.”
The Secwepemc Nation is comprised of 17 separate communities spread across eight geographic divisions, with each community having autonomy to speak for itself on policy matters. In recent year some bands have agreed to work together voluntarily as divisions, with the Skeetchestn and T’kemlups bands acting as the Kamloops Division being a notable example.
Simpcw First Nation comprises a division unto itself, described by the ethnographer James Teit as the “North Thompson Division” of the Secwepemc Nation.
Simpcw First Nation and Adams Lake Indian Band recently signed a cooperation agreement on mining, under which they agreed to work together to assess the potential risks and benefits of various proposed mining projects in areas of mutual interest.
Projects of interest to the two communities include the proposed Harper Creek open pit copper mine (near Vavenby) of Yellowhead Mining Inc., and Imperial Metals’ proposed underground Ruddock Creek lead zinc mine (near Tum Tum Lake, about 30 km east of Avola).