Yukon letters

This week’s mailbox: Elders’ historic opposition to the Kudz Ze Kayah mine

Regarding the Kudz Ze Kayah Project Name

Let me weigh in on this saga discussing the name of the BMC mine. [Yukon News, “Kudz Ze Kayah used to be caribou country” on Jan. 6 and “BMC Minerals on the Kudz Ze Kayah project name” on Jan. 13.]

The name Kudz Ze Kayah means, “Caribou Country,” and it is the heart of the Finlayson Caribou herd habitat and calving grounds.

When Cominco, as the article in the Yukon News, Jan. 13, 2023, stated, “As Cominco moved the project through a successful environmental assessment and water licencing process, receiving approval for the mine from both the federal and the Yukon Water Board in 1998, the name was front and centre.” This may have been true as the Kaska leadership and RRDC (Ross River Dena Council) were negotiating with Cominco at the time, and work out an agreement, “SEPA”. That agreement was supposed to be lived up to by the industry, in this case Cominco, but the agreement fell short on the issue that we have had with the mine.

Then suddenly Cominco closed the mine, for whatever reason, rumors state there was a lot of selenium in the area but there is no mention of this anywhere in documents of the mine. RRDC lost a lot of money when this happened with their joint venture that were setup to be involved with some of the needs of the mine. The RRDC store lost big time as well, it never fully recovered.

Then the article stated how well this relationship is when BMC purchase the Cominco interest with RRDC or the Kaska, it’s far from it. There was a lot of concerns express by the RRDC/Kaska Elders that was documented regarding this mine. They said no to this proposed mining project and pointed to the Faro Mine as an example of what happened there, which destroyed a large area of land and water and left a large tailing pond. Down river people are very concerned about tailings. And down river people are concerned about this mine, which will effect the Finlayson, Frances and the Liard River. The RRDC elders also stated that in Faro they have lost a lot of hunting area and this BMC mine will do the same.

This time we want to be heard, as our elders have given us strength and the movement of “Idle no More” movement has given us strength. So, we no longer must be quiet, we have to tell our story of this Land, of our heritage, plants, water, animals, our food of the land, and medicine, at the proposed BMC mine. We want to be heard by the court and while we are in the courts, BMC should respect this court process and any respectful industry should wait until after the court has made a decision.

Souga Sinla,

Testloa Smith


Letter to the Editor