By Guy Archibald
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), which represents 15 sovereign Tribal Nations from Southeast Alaska, submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stating that the unfettered mine development in British Columbia violates the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
SEITC explains that the six mines in British Columbia, four of which are proposed and two operating, risk releasing harmful pollution that threatens the health and viability of salmon and eulachon — migratory fish that spawn in the waters of the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk Watersheds. Because these fish are essential to maintaining generations-old subsistence practices that form a mainstay of the livelihood, culture, and traditions of the 15 Tribal Nations represented by SEITC, Canada must prevent such pollution under international human rights law.
Failing to do so constitutes a violation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to the benefits of their culture, an adequate means of subsistence, use and enjoyment of their traditional lands, and health and well-being. The governments of Canada and British Columbia have also not consulted with or sought the free, prior, and informed consent of the SEITC Tribal Nations during the approval or permitting of any of the six mines, as required by international law. Canada has a duty to prevent the B.C. Mines from degrading transboundary watersheds to an extent that infringes upon the fundamental human rights of those represented by SEITC to enjoy the benefits of their culture, means of subsistence, and clean water.
The Inter-American Commission, created by the Organization of American States, exists to protect and uphold human rights in the Americas. Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, filed the petition on behalf of SEITC. The Petition seeks an inquiry by the Inter-American Commission and other actions to ensure the protection of the rights of Tribal people in Alaska.
SEACC supports the strong leadership of SEITC and this action. To learn more, see the recent press links below: