This must now be the end to 20-year effort to turn pristine area into open-pit disaster
Tsilhqot’in Territory, BC (February 27, 2014): Yesterday’s federal decision to reject the New Prosperity Gold-Copper mine proposal was welcomed by Tsilhqot’in Chiefs, AFN National Chief A-in-chut Shawn Atleo, Union of BC Indian Chiefs President, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and First Nations everywhere.
They now call on this to be the end of a costly, pointless battle that has dragged on since at least 1995, when Taseko Mines Ltd. was first told by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans not to waste any further time or money pursuing this unacceptable project.
The mine proposal was opposed vigorously by the Tsilhqot’in Nation with the unanimous support of B.C.’s and Canada’s First Nations and received an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government said: “We are celebrating this decision to reject once again this terrible project, which threatened our pristine waters, fish and Aboriginal rights.
“We commend the federal government for not bowing to industry lobbying and instead respecting the science and the independent process which came to the conclusion that this project would have devastating impacts on the environment and our Nation’s ability to practice our rights in a sacred spiritual site. These impacts could not be mitigated,”
Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government stated: “We are talking about one of the few areas in Canada to have a court declaration of proven Aboriginal rights, so it is no surprise that the government had to reject this. Now is the time to make this decision the full and final rejection.
“We call on the Province and Taseko Mines Ltd. to acknowledge that this is the end, to pack up their tents and go home. The company has wasted too many resources and time on a project that was first rejected in 1995. It is time to look elsewhere and leave us in peace. We believe TML’s investors feel the same way after funding three failed attempts to get this approved.”
Chief Russell Myers Ross, of the Yunesit’in Government, said, “What has become clear through these two processes is that the status quo is untenable. To try and force unwelcome and destructive mining projects at the cost of all other values, including First Nations rights and title, is a path to greater conflict. The Tsilhqot’in look forward to protecting Teztan Biny as a sacred site, meanwhile developing a broader vision for how to responsibly use the wealth of our lands in our territory. This needs to be the full and final rejection if industry wants certainty.”
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated, “The Assembly of First Nations is proud to stand with the Tsilhqot’in to celebrate this victory, just as we have stood with them throughout all stages of their fight for the recognition of First Nations rights and title. We commend the Tsilhqot’in for their incredible perseverance protecting their rights, their scared sites, their peoples and their economies. We commend the Minister and the federal government for making the right decision that is symbolic of a path forward right across this country – respecting Indigenous rights and title, respecting environmental concerns and clearing away barriers to building respectful and sustainable approaches to community and economic development. This decision and this victory for the Tsilhqot’in is a victory for all First Nations and for all Canada. Strong First Nations make for a stronger Canada.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said: “The government made the only responsible decision, which was to protect the water and fish, and in doing so, protect the people. We will continue to steadfastly support and stand with the Tsilhqot’in as they move forward with their own plans to protect Teztan Biny and its environs. We also hope that this decision is a lesson taken to heart: that genuine, actual certainty on the land starts with the full recognition of Aboriginal title and rights.”
Chief Alphonse: “This sends a strong message that industry needs to come through our doors, treat us with respect and they can’t play dirty politics. We have fought long and hard, and we would not wish this on any other Nation. Now we want to be able to move forward with other business opportunities that respect our culture. For that reason we will be making public a Tsilhqot’in Mining Policy about how engagement in our Territory must occur. In this case, it was the wrong project in the wrong place.”
Chief Joe Alphonse – 250-305-8282
Chief Roger William – on Thursday: 250-394-7023 ext. 203; on Friday: 250-267-6593
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip – 250-490-5314
For National Chief Shawn Atleo, contact Jenna Young at 613-241-6789 ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistance Reaching Tsilhqot’in Chiefs: JP Laplante, 250-267-3759
Link to the Federal Decision Statement: http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=98459
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