A B.C. First Nation is calling for a halt to placer mining in its territory and for a reality TV show to be pulled off the air.
The Tahltan Nation says “Jade Fever,” which airs on Discovery Canada, glamorizes the potential riches of finding jade and it’s making long-standing environmental issues in the region even worse.
Tahltan Central Government President Chad Norman Day calls the show “extremely problematic,” adding that the “show needs to be shut down immediately.”
“We have caught people red-handed, poaching our animals, abandoning equipment, crossing streams that we need to stay healthy.”
In a statement, Bell Media said it “was not aware of Tahltan Nation’s request for ‘Jade Fever’ to be taken off-air.”
“We take the Tahltan Nation’s concerns seriously and are investigating further.”
Stakeholders have spent a lot of time and money getting heavy equipment up to where the jade is and, for the most part, have government-approved permits.
“The difficulty, if there is one, is in enforcement,” Mines Minister Bruce Ralston said. “These are very, very remote areas where really the only access is by helicopter.”
Jade is mined from mountainsides or through placer mining, a smaller-scale excavation ranging from old-style gold panning to digging in and around riverbeds for deposits of minerals washed away over time.
B.C.’s consultation with the nation over jade mining permit applications has been “minimal,” Day said, and in recent years the nation has expressed opposition to new permits and the industry overall.
Ten jade mining permits remain active in Tahltan territory, the ministry said, while 34 are inactive after operating between 2015 and 2019. Another seven permits are not being used because the operators’ certificates are suspended, it said.
In response to the Tahltan’s concerns, B.C. has stopped issuing some permits and says it is in negotiations with the Tahltan about further mining restrictions.
Still, jade mining continues.
“If you cancel permits that are lawfully issued, you have to compensate,” Ralston said. “So we’ve decided to wait for the expiration of those permits and make a decision about whether to renew them or not.”
Day says they are not opposed to economic development in Tahltan territory.
“We just need to make sure that it’s done properly and right now it’s an absolute mess up there,” he said.
— With files from The Canadian Press