The Council of Canadians has stood with the Tsilhqot’in Nation in defence of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) since October 2008.
We have opposed the Schedule 2 provision in the Fisheries Act (that allows the tailings from mines to be dumped into freshwater lakes designed by the federal government as ‘tailings impoundment areas’), and we have spoken against both the proposed Prosperity and New Prosperity mines that would have destroyed Teztan Biny.
Over the years we helped facilitate meetings with the federal government, presented at the federal review panel hearings, posted online action alerts, expressed our solidarity in media statements, protested outside Taseko annual shareholder meetings, delivered petitions, and were interveners at the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s historic Supreme Court challenge for Title on their territory.
Our Williams Lake chapter, water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and organizer Harjap Grewal were instrumental in all of this work.
The federal government rejected the Prosperity mine proposal in November 2010 and the New Prosperity mine proposal in February 2014. The Supreme Court of Canada also ruled in June 2014 to grant a declaration of Aboriginal Title to 1,750 square kilometres of territory as requested by the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
But in November 2016, The Globe and Mail reported, “A proposed $1.5-billion gold and copper mine twice rejected by the federal government was given a new lease on life by B.C. after the company sent a bluntly worded letter to Premier Christy Clark threatening legal action. Russell Hallbauer, president and chief executive officer of Taseko Mines Ltd., wrote to Ms. Clark on May 13, 2016, demanding the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office proceed with a request to amend the [January 2010 provincially-granted] environmental certificate for the New Prosperity project despite Ottawa’s repeated rejections.”
That article highlights, “In June , much to the surprise of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, which has long opposed the mine, the province started the process to amend the project’s environmental certificate [which] would allow Taseko to pursue the project through a narrow process that requires a review of proposed changes only, and not another full environmental assessment.”
The Tsilhqot’in National Government has written the provincial Environmental Assessment Office and stated, “There is no legal or practical reason to consider an amendment application at this time, when the project cannot proceed in the face of its rejection by the federal government.”
The Globe and Mail also reported this summer, “The company said it is filing a ‘notice of work’ with the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines ‘to advance mine permitting’ by doing field work at the site. [Taseko says] the field work is to gather new information that will help with a scientific review of concerns raised by the federal environmental panel.”
The Council of Canadians encourages our Vancouver-area members to support a fundraiser on January 31 for the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s legal defence against Taseko Mines.
For detailed information on the legal battles that will be fought by the Tsilhqot’in Nation in 2017, please click here.