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WIN! Tsilhqot’in wins injunction against Taseko

November 28 solidarity action

The Canadian Press reports, “An aboriginal band has been granted an injunction preventing Taseko Mines from conducting exploration work around its proposed gold and copper mine in B.C.’s central Interior. In the same court hearing, Taseko failed in its bid for an injunction forcing the Tsilhqot’in First Nation to stop blocking the company’s access to the site outside Williams Lake, B.C. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Grauer ruled Friday the band wasn’t properly consulted on two permits granted to Taseko by the provincial government. Grauer said the First Nation will suffer greater harm than Taseko if the exploration and trail building work for the proposed New Prosperity mine continues. The injunction will be in force until the First Nation can launch a judicial review over the provincial government permits.”

In his ruling, Grauer granted a 90-day interim injunction, which can be renewed. “As he ended his judgment, Grauer urged the lawyer for the First Nation to convince his client and the provincial government to explore reconciliation talks over the mine issue. …(But) Tsilhqot’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste has said the B.C. government simply rubber stamped Taseko’s permits and licences for the mine, without consulting with them as required. …The judge also concluded the band should pay court costs as a result of its unlawful blockade of the mine site.” Grauer’s written ruling on the case is expected to be released next week.

“The First Nation wanted the court to keep the mining firm out of its territory, preventing it from doing any work until the B.C. Appeal Court rules on the band’s case involving aboriginal title in certain claim areas. The B.C. Appeal Court reserved its decision late last year on the case and set no time for releasing its ruling.”

“The mine has a controversial history. The proposal for the $1.1 billion mine was approved by the B.C. government, but was rejected in a federal government environmental review last year. Earlier this month, Ottawa agreed to hear a second environmental review…”

In the Williams Lake Tribune, Tsi Del Del Chief Percy Guichon said, “The B.C. Government will now have to sit down with the Tsilhqot’in and work out a better consultation process regarding any exploration activities Taseko will undertake. We’ll be a part of the process, whether it’s the minimum requirement of the work that will have to be done through the environmental assessment process. We’ll be fully involved.”

Yesterday, in a media release, Tsilhqot’in Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse stated, “Today’s decision signifies the assertion of our request for deep and meaningful consultation. This is an important judgement that sets the tone for industry and the B.C. Government when dealing with other First Nations. We have already soundly defeated this mine proposal once, and the option now being pursued has already been declared worse than the original plan. We are frustrated to be faced with an Environmental Assessment again but we need to be adequately engaged to assist with the determination of what is exactly necessary with the least amount of disturbance for this process. …It would clearly be better for everyone – for our Nation, for the mining industry and for governments, for investors – if Taseko Mines were to withdraw this highly confrontational and clearly doomed resubmission and allow us all to focus on more productive ideas and talks. First Nations across the country have a reason to be concerned. If this can happen to us, in an area where an Aboriginal Title decision is being awaited, then what can we expect elsewhere?”

The Council of Canadians asked its supporters to stand in solidarity with the Tsilhqot’in outside the BC Law Courts on both November 18 and November 28. The Canadian Press reported on November 28 that, “People carrying protest placards stood by in support, Tsilhoqot’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste told reporters the court application is asking to keep the company off band lands to protect their territory.” Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer Harjap Grewal’s action alert asking people to come to the BC Law Courts can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12197. For an overview of Council of Canadians efforts to defend Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) starting in October 2008, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4501.