It’s no surprise that Ervin Charleyboy supports the proposed New Prosperity Mine Project west of Williams Lake.
Charleyboy ran for chief in his home community of Redstone earlier this year, and campaigned in support of the mine.
He lost the election to Chief Percy Guichon.
Recently Charleboy has created and distributed a pamphlet advocating that it’s time to speak out in favour of the mine.
When asked if he’s employed by Taseko Mines Ltd., Charleyboy said he does “a lot of” different things for them, but is not employed by the company.
In August Taseko worked on a watershed restoration project at Puntzi Creek, a tributary of the Chilcotin River, and Charleyboy helped recruit employees for the project, he said.
“I don’t speak on behalf of Taseko or the Tsilqot’in people, this is the way I see things,” Charleyboy said.
“I was a chief for 20 years in my community and I don’t see any employment for the people. When forestry is not going to be there much longer, what is there for our young people?”
Charleyboy said people speaking against the mine are “activists, people like Mining Watch Canada, Council of Canadians and a bunch of other people that are from out of this country, that don’t even know what the country looks like, yet they’re speaking against the mine.”
Critical of letters to the editor, opposing the mine, Charleyboy said the mine is not going to hurt fish.
“When I look at Gibraltar Mine and Cuisson Lake which is half a mile from the mine, and everything flows into the Fraser River, it hasn’t hurt the fish. Nobody’s died from eating the salmon out of there.”
Charleyboy said he doesn’t understand the opposition of Tsilqot’in chiefs to New Prosperity.
Tsilqot’in National Government chair and Anaham chief Joe Alphonse remains strongly opposed to the project.
He has not seen Charleyboy’s pamphlet, but said he would rather not get into an argument with Charleyboy’s opinion.
“I think Ervin is entitled to his opinion, but I think it’s sad that he’s taken this position,” Alphonse said. “We understand that we all need to feed our families and he has to do what he has to do.”
Charleyboy suggested there should be a referendum among First Nations to find out if people in communities are in favour or against the mine project. Alphonse said a referendum would only embarrass those in favour of the mine.
“All you have to get is 51 per cent for a referendum to pass. We would be well beyond that,” Alphonse said, adding economic future isn’t just about money.
“It’s about taking care of the land and our future.”