Collaborative Moose Health Monitoring Program: Expanding the scope of traditional EAs to include traditional foods.
CIM Vancouver 2016
Dr Rocky Lis (University of British Columbia)
In the wake of the Mount Polley tailings dam failure (August 2014), a primary concern of First Nations in British Columbia (BC) is the health and safety of their traditional food (or ‘country food’) sources. Furthermore, a progressive approach to Environmental Assessment of a mine in BC includes the development and incorporation of a program to monitor traditional foods. Such monitoring programs can also be incorporated into part of Impact Benefit Agreements, which have become an important social tool for mining companies working on or near aboriginal lands. New Gold, a mid-tier mining company, has implemented a ‘Country Food Monitoring Program’ as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Blackwater Mine in Central BC. In particular, moose were identified by local First Nations as a ‘country food’ of primary concern. This paper describes a unique collaboration of a mining company with the cooperation of Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation moose harvesters along with local guide/outfitters, and is informed by the technical support of wildlife veterinarians and biologists to develop and implement a moose health monitoring program. The goal is to establish a baseline database of moose health in order to facilitate an ongoing monitoring program that can provide assurance to First Nations that this key food source remains viable throughout the entire life cycle of the Blackwater Mine.