Canadian church representatives and Native People will bring to New York, on Thursday, their struggle for a public inquiry into the actions of the Canadian subsidiary of a Connecticut-based multinational corporation.
Amax of Canada has proposed to dump 100 million metric tonnes of tailings from its molybdenum mine, into coastal waters of British Columbia over 26 years. The amount of the tailings, and their toxicity, exceed by thousands of times the amount allowed by federal regulations in Canada. Permission to exceed Government standards was granted by a special Order-in-Council of the Federal Cabinet, without discussion on the floor of Parliament, or in any public inquiry. In addition, there was no prior consultation with the Nishga Tribal Council about the ecological or sociological impact of the action. The Nishga are the Native People of the area who depend on the waters for food and their livelihood.
Several prominent environmental scientists have condemned the dumpings, and a political storm has resulted. In the face of this, the Federal Government has refused to rescind its Order, or to call a public inquiry.
In response to this situation the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, its highest governing body, at its meetings in June last year, passed a strong resolution, ordering that "...the Primate, urge the Federal Government to withdraw its special order-in-council; that is, the 'Alice Arm Tailings Deposit Regulations, SOR 79-345,' permitting the Amax Corporation to dump its effluent into Alice Arm, and to declare a moratorium upon development of the resource until technology is developed to safely dispose of the tailings."
This has resulted in public meetings, media coverage, a petition to the Federal Government, meetings between the Nishga, Church officials and Amax management, but no public inquiry.
The Church at various levels has purchased 1,004 shares in Amax, and will appear at the Annual Meeting in New York on Thursday at 2:15 p.m. at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to make intervention on behalf of its concerns and those of the Native People of the area, most of whom are Anglicans (Episcopalians).
The Nishga Tribal Council will hold a Media Conference on:
Two on-land spills of toxic mine tailings in less than a week, surprisingly high support at the Amax annual shareholders' meeting in New York and an interim report from the McInerney Scientific Review Panel which confirms many of the long-range fears of the Nishga Indians, environmental groups and church bodies ... a scenario which developed quickly in the past few days has prompted renewed cries for a public inquiry into the Amax Corporation's mine operation in Kitsault, British Columbia.
Archbishop E.W. Scott, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has sent another strong request to the Federal Government to "set up a public inquiry...as quickly as possible. In am convinced," the Archbishop continued, "such an inquiry would be in the best interests of the governments concerned, the Amax Company, the Nishga people and the general public."
The Primate's telex was sent on Tuesday, May 12th, to the Prime Minister; the Ministers of the Environment; Federal Fisheries and Oceans; and Indian and Northern Affairs.
The full text of the Archbishop's telex is enclosed.
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For further information, please contact:
Consultant in National Affairs
Richard J. Berryman
Anglican Church of Canada
600 Jarvis Street
Toronto, Ont. M4Y 2J6
May 12, 1981
In the light of the Amax shareholders' action last week in New York whereby 1.5 million shares were voted in favour of our resolution calling for a moratorium and full public inquiry into the Kitsault marine disposal of tailings and a further 16 million abstained; and in the light of national public opinion and the many serious doubts raised by the McInerney interim report which confirms the validity of the fears expressed by the Nishga Tribal Council re the potential damage to marine life and human health, I again urge you to set up a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act as quickly as possible. I am convinced such an inquiry would be in the best interests of the governments concerned, the Amax Company, the Nishga people and the general public.
The Amax Corporation has served notice of another potential bomb-shell.
Amax operates the controversial molybdenum mine in Kitsault, British Columbia which was given permission by a Federal Cabinet Order-in-Council, without public hearings, to dump 12,000 metric tons of toxic mine tailings daily into the waters of Alice Arm, BC.
It would appear that Amax is now seeking to receive the same kind of quiet permission, without public scrutiny, to release toxic substances from the mine - this time into the air.
Appearing on page 1502 of the July 30th edition of the British Columbia Gazette is notice of an application by Amax, "to obtain a permit to discharge emissions to atmosphere." It goes on to say that the emissions will contain "arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc." The notice does say that the levels of these contaminants "will comply with the most stringent pollution control regulations now in effect." It goes on, however, to add, "objectives for molybdenum, nickel, uranium and radium 226 are not available, but emission rates, as tested, are in the same order of magnitude."
The notice declares, "The operating period during which contaminants will be discharged is continuous, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
The application points out that "any person who qualifies as an objector" may file an objection within thirty days which means the deadline is August 13th. The notice was published in the midst of the postal strike and, as of August 10th, the copy of the Gazette received at Osgoode Hall in Toronto each month had still not arrived.
The application makes no mention of environmental hazard studies or of any public hearings to assess such hazards. The Nishga Indians who inhabit the surrounding Nass Valley, and will, therefore, live under the Amax cloud, have heard nothing of this application, nor have any public hearings been held in the area.
The General Synod of the Anglican Church, through its Executive Director of Program, the Rev. Clarke Raymond, has sent a telegram of objection asking that no permit be issued until the "environmental impact is assessed by public hearing."
Mrs. Mavis Gillies announced that the Anglican Church of Canada's petition to the Federal Government regarding the Amax Corporation contained 9,500 names, and that west coast churches have cooperated ecumenically in this environmental concern. Representatives of the Canadian Churches will attend the Amax Shareholders' Meeting in New York, May 6, and will put forth a Resolution calling for a halt to the dumping of tailings until a public enquiry has been held. Prayerful support was pledged by members of the House.
That the House of Bishops support the Motion to be presented at the Amax Shareholders' Meeting in New York by the Public Social Responsibility Unit. CARRIED
It was agreed that a statement of support should be conveyed from this House to the Federal Minister of Fisheries and the Prime Minister.
WHEREAS the terms of reference of the AMAX Scientific Review Panel are limited;
AND WHEREAS all proceedings are not open to public scrutiny;
AND WHEREAS there is no right to cross examination or power of subpoena;
AND WHEREAS the Anglican Church at the national and local levels is being asked to participate in the AMAX Scientific Review Panel;
THEREFORE be it resolved that this National Executive Council continue to call for a full Public Inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act and request representatives of the Anglican Church of Canada not to appear before the AMAX Scientific Review Panel, and that our position be made public. CARRIED
"The Church has never said there not be development in the North. We are simply very concerned that governments and corporations not make decisions about resource development before they deal with the needs, aspirations and claims of the people involved." That is the feeling expressed by the Rev. Clarke Raymond, Executive Director of Program for the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, as he prepared to give evidence at the National Energy Board hearings on the Norman Wells Pipeline application on October 27, 1980.
Raymond's presentation, part of the intervention by the Committee for Justice and Liberty Foundation, traced the concerns for Native self-determination, the environment and the nature of Canadian northern development which the Anglican Church has expressed since its publication of 'Beyond Traplines' in 1969. Through resolutions at its General Synod, participation in 'Project North', representations to the Berger Commission and in the work of the Church's Unit on Public Social Responsibility, the Anglican Church has consistently focused on the moral, social and environmental issues related to energy and other resource development projects in the North.
The N.E.B. is in a position to make recommendations which can be acted upon by the Federal Cabinet without recourse to Parliamentary debate of the issues involved. The Anglican Church, with other denominations, church groups and Native Peoples' organizations, is presently opposing a similar situation in which Amax Corporation has been given permission, by Order-in-Council to by-pass federal regulations and dump 100 million metric tons of toxic heavy metals into Alice Arm, British Columbia. There is, therefore, fear that the same by-passing of Common debate could happen in relation to the Norman Wells Pipeline.
The full text of the General Synod statement is attached.
[Text of statement not included in electronic database.]
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For further information, please contact:
The Rev. L. Clarke Raymond (at hearings in Yellowknife)
That the following be included after the words "Alice Arm" at the end of the first section of the resolution:
"and to declare a moratorium upon development of the resource until technology is developed to safely dispose of the tailings."
The Amendment was accepted by the mover and seconder of the motion.
The motion now reads:
"That the 29th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, through the Primate, urge the Federal Government to withdraw its special order-in-council; that is, the "Alice Arm Tailings Deposit Regulations, SOR 79-345", permitting the Amax Corporation to dump its effluent into Alice Arm, and to declare a moratorium upon development of the resource until technology is developed to safely dispose of the tailings.
And further, that this Synod requests the Primate, in co-operation with the Diocese of Caledonia to initiate discussions between the Federal Government, the Province of British Columbia, the Nishga Tribal Council, and the Amax Corporation, in order to determine the terms on which the Amax Corporation might proceed, giving due consideration to the need for effective environmental protection and the need for the participation of the Nishga People in the developmental process.
December 01, 2009 - An interview with the Rev. Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother living with HIV in Kenya inspired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to entitle his World Aids Day Message A Space for Hope. Patricia says of her church "My congregation knows about my status and people in my church know that this is a place where, if they come with HIV, they can be loved." The Archbishop says "when the Church is doing its job, it is providing space for people to face themselves, to be themselves, and to cope with the future."
On my trip to Burundi in February, I saw numerous examples of that kind of space. Let me cite just two. In the heart of the city of Bujumbura there is an HIV/AIDS clinic. Above the main entrance of the administration building is a sign stating that the building was renovated though a gift of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) of the Anglican Church of Canada. That gift inspired other churches in the city to make contributions to expand the services of this clinic which serves teens and young adults who have been orphaned through AIDS. Most of them live on the street and their life is very rough. The clinic is a haven where they can learn about HIV/AIDS, get tested and if necessary receive treatment and counseling. As the Archbishop says, they can "face themselves, be themselves, and cope with the future."
Up in the hills, "in the bush" as Burundians say, in the village of Bitare, I and Cheryl Curtis (Executive Director of PWRDF) and Maureen Bailey (Youth Council, PWRDF) were invited to assist local people in laying the foundation stone for a new HIV/AIDS clinic. It was very humbling to kneel down and share in that work as hundreds of people looked on and sang and prayed for God's blessing on this project. The building is now complete and providing services to hundreds of people in Bitare and a number of surrounding villages. Individuals and families are feeling support and care. Lives are being changed and hope is rising like the glory of a new day.
This coming Sunday, the second in Advent, I ask that throughout the Church, prayers of special intent for those living with HIV/AIDS be included in the Prayers of the People. Pray for their caregivers and for their doctors and nurses and clergy. Pray especially for the work of the Mother's Union in Africa and their deep and steadfast commitment to helping those who are living with AIDS and those who have been widowed and orphaned through AIDS, and those who are caring for their grandchildren. Pray for those engaged in education about healthy sexuality and the prevention of AIDS. And as we pray for the eradication of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, pray also for that "space" the Church is called to provide where people can be welcomed and free to face themselves and be themselves without fear of rejection; where through loving care and support they can cope with their future. This calling is after the very example of Our Lord who reached out and "touched" (Mark 1: 40-41) the sick with love and mercy.
I encourage one and all to pray, to support the continuing work with HIV/AIDS, and to stand with all those who are pressuring world leaders, in the words of one of the Millennium Development Goals, "to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases." I issue this call in the name of him whose Advent sets us free, whose love brings healing and hope to all.