Tsilhqot’in chiefs and elders attend Taseko case in Supreme Court

Xeni Gwet
Xeni Gwet'in Chief Roger William and a van load of elders and leaders from his community and Yunesit'in are in Vancouver this week attending Taseko Mine Ltd.'s judicial review civil claim against the federal government over the New Prosperity Mine project.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

A van load of chiefs and elders from two Tsilhqot'in communities have travelled to Vancouver to attend a BC Supreme Court civil claim concerning the Taseko Mines Ltd.'s New Prosperity Mine project.

In its lawsuit, Taseko claims the Government of Canada and its agents failed to meet the legal duties owed to Taseko and in doing so they caused and continue to cause damages, expenses and loss to the company.

When the company filed the civil claim a year ago, Taseko's president and CEO Russell Hallbaurer said given the conduct of the Government of Canada and its agents, Taseko had no other choice but to defend the interests of its shareholders and to protect their assets.

Xeni Gwet'in Chief Roger William told the Tribune last Friday they want to be there to hear the case and protect their interests.

"Taseko doesn't believe in the 2013 panel report and the decision on Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and the New Prosperity Mine," he said.

William said it is frustrating for his people that the company continues to pursue the project, especially in light of the 2014 Supreme Court decision on rights and title awarded to the Tsilhqot'in people.

"There is no place that attaches the right to hunt, trap, to trade and catch and use wild horses to a piece of land," he said. "This piece of land is still alive and our people, the descendants from there, the Tsilhqot'in people, still use that area today."

Taseko Mines Ltd. is also pursuing permits from the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines for a major drilling and exploration program to support construction of the mine.

Yunesit'in Chief Russell Myers Ross said it is time to put the project to rest.

"Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) is a significant cultural area and in the headwaters of one of the most diverse ecosystems in Canada," Myers Ross said. "The reason for developing Nexwagwez7an, the Dasiqox Tribal Park, is to give life to our value system and vision for the land - a contrast to TML that seeks to disturb the natural rhythm of life.”

William said they are telling the B.C. government it should not be giving the company the permit.

"Twice this was rejected by the federal government. Why are you entertaining the thought of whether they should drill or not?," he said.


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