For Immediate Release
Williams Lake. Oct. 5, 2010: Premier Gordon Campbell’s demand at speech to BC municipalities that the federal government approve the proposed Prosperity mine is more proof that he has abandoned all interest in doing what is right and may be desperate to save his political future, Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman of the Tsilhqot’in National Government said today.
“It is increasingly easy to believe that the New Relationship that once gave BC First Nations so much hope was merely a ploy by Premier Gordon Campbell to buy peace for the 2010 Winter Olympics,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Tsilhqot’in people of Xeni Gwet’in. “Certainly his speech Friday night demonstrated a total abandonment of any recognition of First Nations Rights and of any desire to work with them to find a path forward to create a sustainable mining industry in BC.”
“If Premier Campbell is now acting out of a desperate bid to generate a provincial-federal battle that will divert public attention from the HST issue and growing recall efforts, regardless of the harm and injustices that could result, then our disappointment in him is even more intense,” said Chief Percy Guichon, Tsi Deldel.
In his speech Friday, the Premier promoted the fallacy that this specific mine project is the way forward for mining in BC. In doing so he tacitly endorsed the view that BC must approve any mine, no matter how destructive of the environment and no matter how abusive of First Nations rights and culture.
“It was in effect an endorsement of the way of the past, where companies came in to destroy what they wanted to get at whatever they wanted, with the government’s blessing,” said Chief Frances Laceese, Tl’esqox.
As the premier noted, BC is indeed so rich in mineral resources. So why has this government chosen as its poster child a project that involved such low-grade copper and gold deposits that only the company feels it is profitable to access it is to destroy our sacred lakes and ecosystem and 35 sq km of some of the most pristine and beautiful wilderness area in BC with a self-sustaining wild rainbow trout fishery that this same BC government promotes as one of the top 10 fishing spots in BC.
“Even many in the mining industry privately question why the BC government would have chosen such a clearly incendiary project to champion. Could it really be that political donation lines to the BC party have played a role in this?” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste.
It defies logic that this premier, who in the past has claimed to understand the issues facing First Nations and the need to resolve them in BC, would not be able to recognize that this project is in fact the last one his government should be approving.
“His government’s rubberstamping of this mine proposal was, to be blunt, a joke. Either it had abandoned all of its previous principles, which led it to deny a small lodge expansion in this same area to save the environment and respect First Nations rights, or it only rejected that lodge expansion to make life easier down the road Taseko Mines to come in and destroy the area,” said Chief Percy Guichon.
The First Nations of BC and Canada have pledged their support to the Tsilhqot’in Nation to fight this mine should federal approval be given. A green light from Ottawa would ensure that all trust and cooperation is lost and all the good work being done by responsible companies to work with first nations to develop responsible projects will be set back. This so called “Prosperity” proposal is not only a poorly named insult to First Nations, but also to all mining companies who believe we need to find a better way forward.
BC and Taseko mines were informed as far back 1995 by top federal fisheries and Oceans officials that any proposal that would kill of Teztan Biny is unacceptable and something that could never be approved, DFO even advised BC and the company to stop wasting time and money and only come back if they had a proposal that would not destroy this lake and its ecosystem.
“Far from now endorsing the BC government’s untenable actions and decision, the federal cabinet is duty bound to distance itself from them and to exercise its obligations to reject this specific proposal,” said Chief Francis Laceese. Indeed the findings of the CEAA panel report now place a clear constitutional duty on the federal government to protect our rights by rejecting this project.
“It certainly is not the federal government’s job to base its decision on whether or not it will help Gordon Campbell,” said Chief Joe Alphonse.
“ Its duty is to enforce the constitutional, legal and moral obligations that Premier Campbell is urging it to ignore, and to avert the confrontation and major setback to the future of mining that would accompany approval of this project: a project that cannot and will never be accepted by the Tsilhqot’in and first Nations everywhere,” said Chief Joe Alphonse.
To view a video of our lake, visit: https://www.raventrust.com/projects/fishlaketeztanbiny/video-bluegold.html
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tsilhqot’in National Government: (250) 305-8282 or (250) 394-4212
Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government: (250) 267-1401 or (250) 394-7023 ext. 202