On August 4, 2014, a section of the Mount Polley copper mine tailing pond blew out, releasing 25 million cubic metres of mine tailings and waste water into pristine Quesnel Lake in central British Columbia. As a result, parts of the crystal clear lake filled with thick, grey mining sludge and Hazeltine Creek was destroyed. Mine tailings, which contain arsenic, cadmium, mercury and selenium, cannot be safely removed and currently sit at the bottom of Quesnel Lake and along Hazeltine Creek.
For Indigenous peoples in the area and downstream, the mine breach was devastating. Many Secwepemc, Dakelh, St’at’imc and Tsilhqot’in communities have not fished local waters for salmon for four years over fears of toxic contamination. The company responsible for the mine, Imperial Metals, has not been fined, charged or sanctioned for the disaster. In 2017, the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted the ‘devastating and disproportionate impacts’ of the disaster on Indigenous peoples and called on Canada to provide those harmed with remedy and reparations. People are still waiting for Canada to act.
Amnesty is calling on Canada to fulfill its human rights obligations and ensure justice for those harmed by the Mount Polley mine disaster.
1. Gather Petition Signatures
Call on the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister, Carolyn Bennett, to fulfill the UN CERD recommendations on the Mount Polley mine disaster by September 2018.
2. Take Action Now
Sign our online petition calling on Canada to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples harmed by the Mount Polley mine disaster. Or, print off and share our letter-writing action
3. Screen a Film
Join the Stand for Water movement and screen Uprivers, a short documentary about two watersheds and the communities that depend on them in the face of British Columbia’s mining boom.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, order your film discussion guide and select a screening date.
4. Learn more
Learn more about the issue at www.amnesty.ca/mountpolley
Thank you for taking action!