First Nations are concerned that they will face aggression if they defend Tsilhqot’in rights, lands and waters in BC if the federal government does not stop the proposed Prosperity Mine.
By KJ Mullins
British Columbia’s junior Minister of Mines, Randy Hawes was quoted saying that “no society will tolerate threats of violence.” That lead Chief Percy Guichon of Tsi Deldel to say “What is not acceptable to Canadian society today is the destruction of a traditional and cultural way of life for the sake of profits.” Chief Ivor D. Myers of Yunesit’in has said, “We are facing similar treatment by the government and by Taseko Mines Ltd. as indigenous groups in underdeveloped countries.”
An elder of the Xeni Gwet’in community has said that she would be at the location in her wheelchair with a shotgun if the mine is not stopped from proceeding.
“If anyone has reason to fear aggression it is our people,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste of Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government in a press release. “It is the BC Government and Taseko Mines Ltd. that are threatening our livelihood, health, environment and our culture. We are merely standing up for ourselves.”
The British Columbia Supreme Court has cases ongoing over the mine currently. The company has stated that once it had all its government permits that they will go forward and that any issues with First Nations title to the land would be the problem of the government.
“Given the lengths to which both the province and the company have gone to promote this mine and to minimize the objections of our First Nations, the environmental community and the CEAA review panel, we dread to think what they will do to force their way onto our land should the federal government give them the green light to do so,” said Chief Baptiste.
The land that is at the center of the dispute has been an Aboriginal hunting and trapping ground. The company plans to drain the Fish Lake and fill it with waste rock. The 80,000 trout that are now in the lake would be moved to a reservoir.
First Nations allege that if the mine goes forth the company will leave estimated 700,000,000 tons of tailings and waste materials, including arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium and other toxic metals. Those toxins will damage the ecosystem for the animals that live in the area. This includes North America’s larges wild salmon run.