Consultation has a purpose, Nation says


Consultation has a purpose, Nation says

And “No” is a valid outcome when it comes to projects in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa

yaqan nuʔkiy (Where the Rock Stands [Creston, B.C.]): A recent court case filed by an American mining exploration company is trying to cut off Constitutionally required consultation with the Ktunaxa First Nation of yaqan nuʔkiy and the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) and fast track a controversial new mining exploration project.

In a media release of October 16, 2023, Taranis Resources announced that it has filed a Petition with the B.C. Supreme Court regarding its Thor Project near Trout Lake in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa, (Ktunaxa homelands).

Taranis is asking the Court to force the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (“EMLI”) to make a quick decision on its August 2022 application for a major exploration program north of Trout Lake, near Revelstoke, in the Ktunaxa Traditional District of miȼ̓qaqas ʔamakʔis (Land of the Chickadee). Taranis is also asking the Court to declare recent public statements by EMLI Minister Josie Osborne committing her Ministry to work with Indigenous Peoples as Aboriginal Title holders to be “contrary to law.”

yaqan nuʔkiy and the KNC first learned of the new exploration program in January, 2023.  After extensive review, major concerns were identified including impacts to archaeological values, ungulate winter range, old growth forests and species at risk including mountain caribou, grizzly bear, and whitebark pine.  There are also significant concerns around water quality and important fish species, including Gerrard rainbow trout, westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and kokanee.  Impacts to these important values translate to impacts to legally protected Ktunaxa rights.

yaqan nuʔkiy also identified that their traditional lands were under increasing development pressure without being provided any time for Ktunaxa people to develop a Ktunaxa-led vision and plan for the area.  This prompted yaqan nuʔkiy and the Lands and Resources Council of the KNC to send the Province ‘letters of non-support’ for the new exploration permit in March and April of 2023.  The Province responded in August, acknowledging those concerns and committing to further consultation. Only two months later, Taranis filed its court challenge.

“Consultation must include the possibility of denial, or it isn’t meaningful consultation,” said nasuʔkin Jason Louie of yaqan nuʔkiy. “And ‘No’ is a valid outcome of consultation.”

“It looks like Taranis wants to cut off our voice and ability to represent and protect our Indigenous title and rights. But the Crown has the duty to consult and, more important, the fiduciary duty to protect Aboriginal rights as per Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Taranis’ desire to fast track this project can’t trump our Constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights. We are duty-bound to the Creator to ensure respectful stewardship of our homelands, and this is our focus.”

British Columbia has committed to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires the Province to respect Ktunaxa inherent governance authority and rights, and to seek free, prior and informed consent prior to the authorization of any use of lands and resources in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa.

“The best way for British Columbia to ensure Ktunaxa rights are protected is to receive our free prior and informed consent, which in this case, has not been provided,” said Louie.

“We know that Treaty 8 Nations had to fight for years in court to finally force the Province to protect their rights from the cumulative degradation of industrial development;[1] we will not wait until things are so bad we can no longer use our lands. We are standing up now and saying we need time to plan and do things right.”

yaqan nuʔkiy disagrees that Taranis’s application has been subject to unreasonable delay.

“Ktunaxa have been stewards of our homelands for longer than 10,000 years. Colonization only happened in the last 200 years, but we have already lost so much,” said Louie. “Fourteen months in a permitting process doesn’t seem like a long time, and, in this case, matters of how many months isn’t our concern, because, yes, we are on-the-record as unsupportive. We do not consent. Our view is of the bigger picture, with the long-term health of our homelands.

“We are not an anti-mining Nation, but some areas should remain undeveloped or require time to heal. Proponents are guests within our homelands – those who respect us, who are willing to accept that not all projects are meant to be developed, and who are willing to work with us and obtain our free, prior and informed consent, are the ones we would classify as ‘good guests,’ who we are willing to host.  Proponents who do not meet these expectations will have challenges.”

Louie said he and his leadership council, along with the rest of the Ktunaxa First Nations, will watch any developments in regards to the judicial review with interest, “But, when reviewing the company’s requests of the Supreme Court, we would say that, even if the Court issued the declaration the proponent wants, it would still not create a necessity for an eventual permitting decision to be in favour of exploration or development.  The Province must still address and protect our title and rights.”


[1] Yahey v. BC 2021 BCSC 1287

For more information, contact:
nasuʔkin Jason Louie

yaqan nuʔkiy ~ Lower Kootenay Band
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About yaqan nuʔkiy
Historically and since time immemorial, the Lower Kootenay Band, locally known as yaqan nuʔkiy, have remained the original inhabitants of the Lower Kootenay area. The name Yaqan Nukiy literally means “where the rock stands” and refers to an important place in the Creston Valley.

About the Ktunaxa Nation Council

The Ktunaxa Nation Council is comprised of elected officials from ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation, yaqan nuʔkiy (Lower Kootenay Band), ʔaqam (St. Mary’s Band) and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqiʾit (Tobacco Plains Band) First Nation Communities.