Esk’etemc Nation is shocked and disappointed at Taseko’s call to the government to ban any exercise of aboriginal cultural and spirituality during the New Prosperity federals review panel.
The behaviour of Taseko Mines demonstrates a fundamental lack of willingness to understand First Nations concerns about the effects of the New Prosperity project on aboriginal rights and title.
Taseko’s call to the Crown to ban First Nations’ prayers and ceremonies from the federal review panel is not just offensive to First Nations but is an attempt to belittle the sacred relationship First Nations have with our lands, which provides us with our identity as aboriginal peoples. It is also another attempt by Taseko to proceed as if we weren’t even here.
At the most basic level our ability as First Nations people to survive is dependent on the lands and waters providing us with the necessities of life. How we govern our communities comes from a place of thanksgiving to the Creator for providing us with the lands and resources we need to exercise our rights for survival.
The attempted interference by Taseko with First Nations’ participation in the review, however, is nothing new to the aboriginal communities involved in the fight to protect their lands and waters from destruction. For Esk’etemc, the comments made by Taseko simply display the reason that the New Prosperity project is doomed to fail from the aboriginal perspective: Taseko has again designed the project without talking to First Nations, and is acting as if First Nations don’t exist. The EIS is soon to be done, but Esk’etemc Nation has yet to be asked by Taseko for its views on how the project will affect its rights.
Taseko’s approach is based on the false presumption that the project will not devastate our culture, and will not result in significant losses which cannot be accommodated. Instead, Taseko is content to ignore the impacts to our ability as aboriginal peoples to maintain a spiritual connection to our lands and waters, which is integral to our concepts of ownership and the exercise of our rights. There is no honour in that.
Chief Fred Robbins