Battison deflects from real issue

Chief Joe Alphonse responds to comments made by Taseko Mines Ltd.' vice-president of corporate affairs regarding Gibraltar Mines.

Editor:

Re: Brian Battison Comments on Gibraltar

In response to Brian Battison’s op-ed in the June 4, 2014 edition of the Williams Lake Tribune, I would like to point out his, and ultimately Taseko Mines Limited’s (TML), flawed reasoning and continuing failure to work with First Nations.

Instead of replying to the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s request for improved partnerships with Gibraltar, Battison deflects the discussion to the New Prosperity project and my position as Chief of Tl’etinqox-t’in (Anaham).

When I speak on Nation issues, I am speaking as the Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, reaching consensus among all six Tsilhqot’in Chiefs.

As a Nation, we fully support ?Esdilagh First Nation’s request for an impact and benefit agreement with Gibraltar.

We know that Gibraltar can and has formed partnerships with other First Nations, as noted in Band seeks mine agreement on May 28, and we are asking for a similar respect.

One “take it or leave it” offer to ?Esdilagh does not constitute adequate effort nor the end of all negotiations.

Instead of complaining about the federal government’s rejection of the now twice-rejected Prosperity project, why doesn’t Battison or his company focus on improving TML’s relations with the Tsilhqot’in Nation?

He himself has recognized me and the Nation as being “instrumental” in the rejection of New Prosperity, yet his company still refuses to meet with our communities meaningfully at the table.

Gibraltar Mine has operated for four decades in the backyard of the ?Esdilagh First Nation, with huge impacts on its lands and the traditional practices of ?Esdilagh members.

Yet Gibraltar has no benefit sharing agreement with ?Esdilagh.

It is not enough for Mr. Battison to point to “individual success stories”, which have been few and far between.

Gibraltar impacts an entire community and it should have an agreement that benefits that community.

Impact and benefit agreements are a social necessity and industry standard built on respect and mutual understanding between parties.

The Mining Association of Canada encourages negotiated agreements with Aboriginal peoples, and notes that more than 300 agreements have been negotiated between mining companies and Aboriginal groups in Canada.

If TML wants to get any work done in our territory and create jobs for the Cariboo-Chilcotin as so promised, then why isn’t it working with ?Esdilagh First Nation to reach a formal agreement of lasting benefit to all involved?

Chief Joe Alphonse

Tribal Chair

Tsilhqot’in National Government

 

 

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