For an hour and a half Monday, First Nations and non-First Nations gathered in front of BC Law Courts in Vancouver to drum, pray and carry signs.
The move comes on the opening day of a court case where Taseko Mines Ltd. is seeking an order restraining individuals from interfering with work on its proposed Prosperity mine project, and the Tsilhqot’in National Government is defending its territories against the project and permits the company was issued by the B.C. Government.
Speaking during a break in the first court session, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste told the Tribune the gathering was a way of coming together with “good respectful energy” before going into the court proceedings.
“There are few signs to help the public understand what’s going on,” she added, noting that one of the signs reads, “The Crown cannot continue to run rough shod over our indigenous rights.”
Referring to the court case, Baptiste said it’s going well.
“We’re just hearing from the company’s lawyers. I expect that our lawyers will be heard from afterwards and then B.C.’s also will be a part of it. I’m feeling good. I think this is a part of the process that we need to go through, we’ll go through confidently and then await the outcome,” she said.
Xeni Gwet’in councillor Roger William, also in Vancouver, said the plan is to return every morning to gather outside the courts while the case is in session.
“We did a sage ceremony, a juniper ceremony and the cameras were there to film the different groups,” he said. “I think we drummed for over an hour. In different First Nation and non-First Nation communities throughout the Chilcotin there have been similar ceremonies in recent days,” William said.
The proceeding are expected to last two to five days.