The Tŝilhqot’in Nation welcomes yesterday’s B.C. Supreme Court decision to grant an interlocutory injunction against an exploration permit issued by British Columbia to Taseko Mines Ltd. (TML) for an extensive drilling program in the Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake) area. TML had planned to start the drilling work as early as next week.
Everyone in the RAVEN community deserves to celebrate this victory, and to be celebrated for their part in it.
The injunction prohibits TML from carrying out the drilling program until the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled on the Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s legal challenge to the drilling permit issued in July of 2017, based on breaches of the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate the Tŝilhqot’in. That case was argued in B.C. Supreme Court last week, June 25-29.
Taseko’s proposed drilling program is for the stated purpose of supporting construction of the New Prosperity Mine, despite the fact that the Federal Government rejected New Prosperity over four years ago, and the proposed mine cannot be built as matters stand. Two independent federal panels have confirmed the unique and special significance of Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and Nabas (the surrounding area) to the Tŝilhqot’in people as a valued hunting, trapping and gathering grounds. This area is also significant as a place for ceremony, spiritual practices and community gatherings, as an actively used cultural school, and as “home” to the many Tŝilhqot’in members born and raised there.
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is cautiously relieved that the B.C. Supreme Court has temporarily protected Teẑtan Biny and Nabas from further damage and disruption by TML, over the opposition of the Nation, and in the face of the rejection of New Prosperity by the Federal Government.
The drilling permit in question was approved on the final day of the outgoing Liberal Government. The Tŝilhqot’in Nation calls on the current BC Government to step up and honour its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by protecting this critical cultural space from further threat in the name of a mining project that has been rejected twice for its unacceptable environmental and cultural impacts.
Huge thanks to everyone who donated, organized, and showed up in support of the Tsilhqot’in. It’s a small milestone in a long road to justice.