First Nations should be allowed to express beliefs at hearings

Editor:

An open letter to Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, re: Taseko Mines Ltd.’s request.

Editor:

An open letter to Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, re: Taseko Mines Ltd.’s request to prohibit First Nations drumming at environmental hearings.

As a resident of Williams Lake and a Canadian I am deeply concerned about Taseko’s request to prohibit First Nations drumming at the federal environmental review on the New Prosperity mine.

While in Victoria recently I attended a Truth and Reconciliation session.

It was a powerful gathering as First Nations people told their stories.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working at rebuilding the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

We know, from their own stories, that First Nations children sent to residential schools were punished for speaking their language.

We also know that important cultural traditions such as Potlatch were forbidden by the governments of the day.

Given the work being done now to repair the damage inflicted by governments and churches in earlier decades we cannot support Taseko’s request.

If First Nations people are not permitted to express their feelings and beliefs in their own traditional ways we are condemning them once more to an oppressive environment in which they are, once more, considered as second-class citizens.

I urge you to reject Taseko Mines Ltd.’s request and allow the environmental review process to unfold with all Canadians able to express their concerns in culturally appropriate ways.

Charlie Wyse

Williams Lake

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