?Esdilagh Chief Bernie Mack (left) speaks with Taseko’s senior vice president of operations John McManus during last week’s New Prosperity Mine hearings.

?Esdilagh Chief Bernie Mack (left) speaks with Taseko’s senior vice president of operations John McManus during last week’s New Prosperity Mine hearings.

Learning from Gibraltar can help move relationships forward: Mack

?Esdilagh Chief Bernie Mack said it's important for people to understand the true historical context of mining in the area.

Speaking from the experience of being the First Nation community located closest to Taseko’s Gibraltar Mine ?Esdilagh Chief Bernie Mack told the New Prosperity Mine federal review panel Wednesday he believed it is important for people to understand the true historical context of mining in the area.

“We remain marginalized from any benefits of this mine and suffer all consequences of its development,” he said. “After 40 years of existence this mine has provided our people with about three jobs and severely impacted our Aboriginal rights and displaced us from our lands.”

Proposed projects must respect the original owners of the land and companies must develop a good working relationship early, he added.

Everyone can learn from working at improving relationships that are of a mutual beneficial nature to all people. The most important consideration is conservation and protection of the land and waters, Mack said.

“As everyone knows, we can’t have a good economy without a healthy environment.”

Historically, First Nations travelled long distances and set up villages and camps in areas where there was good fishing, hunting and harvesting of berries, roots, medicines and other life nourishing foods, Mack explained.

“Our society and governance evolved like others through co-existence of interdependency on the abundance provided by our natural resources.”

He suggested if government and industry are willing to take proactive and brave steps forward and truly develop meaningful and productive relationship with First Nations, commerce and economy will bloom across Canada.

Responding Taseko’s senior vice president of operations John McManus said Taseko is presently working with three communities on participation and co-operation agreements at Gibraltar.

“But one of the things that Chief Bernie brought up this morning was the ability to learn from experience and we’ve really tried,” McManus said.

He admitted Taseko hasn’t reached the point where the company wanted to with those agreements.

“We came very close several times with both Xatsull and ?Esdilagh, and would like to complete those but this Panel process and the environmental assessment around New Prosperity is one of the large problems that we have in closing those agreements.”

Within the participation and cooperation agreements, there is funding for capacity within those agreements but there’s also an emphasis on how Taseko communicates with First Nations groups that the company is working with on what the situation is at Gibraltar, McManus said.

“We get input into the things that we do physically to repair the damages, if we look at impacts of the mine.”

Gibraltar was built in 1971 and a lot of things that are known now about impacts weren’t known then, he added.

When Taseko bought Gibraltar it accepted the liability of those things and has worked towards putting in programs which will resolve them.

Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah) chief Roger William asked McManus if Taseko has a good framework or template to develop Impact and Benefit agreements with First Nations.

“I can tell you a lot of those IBAs which have been signed are not something that we would document,” McManus responded.

“There are some really bad ones out there and there have been some real examples of what looks like a good agreement, which turns out to have bad consequences.”

Taseko’s not only studying the law and what happens with the court of appeals, but is watching what happens with other mining companies and other situations in this country and abroad, he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The city of Williams Lake will help fund a position at Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch for mental health programs using some of the COVID safe restart grant the city received from the province. (City of Williams Lake photo)
City of Williams Lake allocates 35K to support mental health programs

The funding for CMHA coming from the COVID Safe Restart grant the city received

Speed reader data collected between March 1 and April 28, 2021 indicated 94.68 per cent of vehicles traveling through kept below or to the 50 km hour speed limit. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City council agrees further speed restrictions not warranted for Westridge area of Williams Lake

Staff bases decision on speed reader data collected over six-week period

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson speaking in the legislature Monday, May 10. (Video screen shot)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA calls for rural infrastructure renewal fund

Lorne Doerkson said central parts of rural B.C. devastated by flooding, crumbling infrastructure

(File photo)
Firearms offence at McLeese Lake tree planting camp under RCMP investigation

On May 10 Williams Lake RCMP were called to the camp, located at the 2200 block of Beaver Lake Rd.

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Most Read