The Katzie First Nation has rallied impressive support for its stance against the proposed new Sheridan Hill quarry.
Katzie Chief Susan Miller has rallied 203 First Nations bands, and spoken with the leadership of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations.
“What we’ve been doing since April is gaining the political support of all the first nations of B.C.,” Miller explained.
Meadows Quarries of Maple Ridge has proposed a new quarry on the southern portion of Sheridan Hill that would take the top off the Pitt Meadows landmark. The gravel operation would blast and remove 240,000 tonnes of rock per year over five years, reducing the elevation of the hill by 30 metres, from 45 to 75 m.
The Katzie’s position is that Sheridan Hill is part of their people’s traditional creation story, and that their aboriginal rights and title mean government must consult the band before permitting the quarry.
People living near the hill say the quarry would be too close to their homes, and have organized opposition, including a letter-writing campaign and a petition with more than 3,000 names. Pitt Meadows council is also working to stop the quarry.
“It is the intention of this council to make every possible use of every possible tool we have at our disposal to oppose this project,” Mayor John Becker said when the project was first proposed in March.
Miller said when she talks with other First Nations chiefs, their reaction is generally sadness.
“Unfortunately, in Canada the destruction of our sacred sites is not a new thing.”
Last week, Katzie met with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations about the quarry, and pressed the stance that the government has an obligation to consult with the band.
The ministry will require the proponent to conduct an archeological study, and the Katzie will be involved in the selection of the party to conduct it.
Next, Chief Miller and her sister Debbie, the Katzie’s chief negotiator, will be going to the National Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly, to be held in Montreal July 7-9, and will bring the quarry issue before the assembly.
“So we are seeking national support,” said Miller.
The Katzie have also met with Pitt Meadows council and Sheridan Hill residents, and marched in the Pitt Meadows Day Parade.
“I want people to understand we are in this together,” said Miller.
While it may seem the issue has quieted, the Katzie are working hard behind the scenes to stop the quarry application, said Miller.
“There’s not a day goes by that we don’t talk about Sheridan Hill.”