On June 13, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear the Tŝilhqot’in Nation’s appeal against a permit for an extensive drilling program at Teẑtan Bay issued to Taseko Mines Ltd.
The dismissal of the appeal allows Taseko to undertake geotechnical work at the New Prosperity Gold-Copper Project near Williams Lake. It will allow for extensive drilling, road building and excavation, despite the Federal Government rejected the proposal twice in 2010 and 2014.
The project, says the Tŝilhqot’in Nation in a June 13 news release, will take place on land with “profound cultural and spiritual significance” to their people.
“The Tŝilhqot’in leadership is doing everything we can to find a path through this conflict and show that there is a different vision for these lands, one that respects our long history here, our special connection, our spirituality and our values. Our communities have presented an alternative to reliving the cycles of oppression and violence of the past. We don’t always want to be reacting to the efforts of others to destroy and exploit places that are so important for our people and way of life,” said Nits’ilʔin Chief Russell Myers Ross, who is also the vice-chair of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government.
President and CEO of Taseko, Russell Hallbauer, said it was an important point in time for New Prosperity, calling the mine the largest undeveloped copper-gold in Canada and “among the top 15 in the world.”
“It can be a powerhouse for economic change in B.C.’s central interior. It can be a positive game-changer for First Nations as well,” he said in Taseko’s own news release on June 13. “With B.C. lumber manufacturers closing mills and curtailing operations, potential mines like New Property offer renewed hope and opportunity, especially for the people of the central interior.”
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation said they will continue to stand for their culture, rights and the lands and waters at Teẑtan Biny and Nabas.
“155 years ago, our Tŝilhqot’in War Chiefs went to war and sacrificed their lives to protect our lands and our way of life when they were threatened by the gold rush. British Columbia and Canada have both exonerated our War Chiefs and recognized them as heroes of our people. But how much has really changed? Government and industry are once again ready to threaten our lands and our people, to devastate a place of such spiritual importance to us, to impact our way of life – all in pursuit of gold.,” said Tribal Chairman Joe Alphonse. “This simply cannot be acceptable in an age of reconciliation, in a time when government says it is ready to implement the U.N. Declaration and recognize our rights as Indigenous peoples.”