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NEWS: Atleo calls for consultation as Fish Lake decision date draws near

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, writes in the Vancouver Sun today that, “With a federal decision pending on the future of Fish Lake in British Columbia, the Assembly of First Nations is calling for continued dialogue with first nation leaders in the region. …In the absence of government discussion with the Tsilhqot’in government, the Assembly of First Nations is strongly encouraging the federal government to engage the local communities in adequate consultation before a decision is made, particularly when first nations have repeatedly expressed their willingness to be part of the discussion.”

Atleo adds, “We continue to stand proudly behind the Tsilhqot’in government as they defend their traditional territories and ways of life, despite suggestions from local politicians that the Taseko Mines Ltd. project near Williams Lake should be a ‘no-brainer’ for the six communities it will directly impact. …The citizens of the Tsilhqot’in nations are standing up, as leaders in their communities, and in a way that could be considered an example for similar scenarios taking place across Canada where the duty to consult with first nations has not been fulfilled.”

The national chief concludes, “With the decision on the Taseko Mines project at Fish Lake, Ottawa has an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection and a renewed relationship with first nations.”

A decision on Fish Lake may come very soon. The Vancouver Sun reported on September 14 that, “Taseko vice-president Brian Battison said in an interview that the international mining investment community is watching closely what message the Tories will send when they announce a decision some time in the next three to five weeks about whether or not the project can proceed.” That puts the timing of the announcement before October 19.

The Globe and Mail reported in early-July that, “Findings of ’significant adverse environmental effects’ (by a Canadian Environmental Asessment Agency review panel) are rare. The Taseko case is only the third such example in (almost twenty years). …Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said an approval (by Harper) is ‘unfathomable.’ (Phillip adds) ’If the federal cabinet just sweeps away this decision, it’d really be a black day for relations between industry and First Nations.’”

Atleo’s full op-ed can be read at http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Potential+harm+makes+Fish+Lake+mine+difficult+choice/3675545/story.html.

To send a message to environment minister Jim Prentice that the Schedule 2 exemption that threatens Fish Lake must be closed, please go to the Council of Canadians website at http://canadians.org/action/2010/schedule2.html.