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Gathering to Keep our Watershed Clean – Friday NOON “Anywhere” Quesnel Lake BC

My Family and I moved into the Cariboo region and Quesnel Lake in particular because it was one of the most pristine areas we had ever visited in BC. Like our neighbours on the lake, we settled here because we knew we would be able to share the Cariboo experience, with our Children and our Grandchildren!

3 years ago, on August 4th, 2014, a 40-meter high tailings dam burst at Imperial Metals’ "state-of-the-art" Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia, resulting in the biggest mining disaster in Canadian history. In less than a day, the future of the water that thousands of people depend on was put at risk.

After the dam collapsed, a catastrophic 26 billion litres of mine waste flooded into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, and Quesnel Lake – headwaters and spawning grounds of the Fraser River watershed. Government assured British Columbians that under the province’s polluter-pay-rules, Imperial Metals would pay the costs resulting from the catastrophe, yet provincial and federal taxpayers have largely picked up an estimated $40 million to date. In the meantime, no fines or charges have been laid against the company and most of the waste is still at the bottom of fish-bearing lakes. Additionally, the Mount Polley Mine has returned to full-scale operations and is now permanently discharging more wastewater into Quesnel Lake, relying on the lake to dilute the waste in order to meet water quality guidelines. Quesnel Lake is still a source of drinking water and is being polluted every day. It's a nursery that accounts for 25% of declining Fraser River salmon - an important food supply to First Nations and other communities in the region.

On Friday August 4 at noon, United for Mining Justice and Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake invite you to participate in a water ceremony for Quesnel Lake and your own watersheds. Gather where you can near your local stream, river, lake or well and if you like, take pictures, give a blessing, say a prayer, share a story on Social Media of what it means to you.

The Mount Polley Mine is setting a precedent for Canadian extractive companies to get away with disaster - just as experts predict 2 major mining disasters in Canada every 10 years. Water gives us life now and for generations to come!

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