This year’s annual Secwepemc gathering held Aug. 15 to 17 hosted more than the traditional pow wow, games and feasting.
The gathering also hosted the first round of Secwepemc Territorial Authority meetings, held just off the powwow grounds in Chase to discuss, among other things, traditional self- governance and resisting destructive resource extraction in the wake of the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine tailings pond spill on Secwepemc territory.
The newly formed Territorial Authority has collected more than 200 signatures on a petition and was to light a sacred fire at the spill site on Aug. 18.
Meeting attendee Kanahus Manuel, a member of the Secwepemc Women Warrior Society, called the Mt. Polley incident a wake-up call and rallying cry for everyone.
“It is especially a wake-up call and rallying cry for our people who are at risk of losing our salmon, clean water and our way of life,” said Manuel. “We will not stand by and wait for government or industry, who have yet to appropriately address the spill and clean-up, we will act to uphold our responsibility to protect our territory.”
The Secwepemc will also be enforcing the eviction notice issued by the Neskonlith band against another Imperial Metals operation in Secwepemc territory, Ruddock Creek mine.
The sacred fire is in solidarity with the Klabona Keepers’ Red Chris mine blockades.