Tsilhqot’in face colonial burden

Editor:

The newly rebranded “New Prosperity” is, once again, entering a risky venture.

Editor:

The newly rebranded “New Prosperity” is, once again, entering a risky venture that depends on the Crown’s ability to claim exclusive ownership over the land.

The July 2, 2010 federal panel report highlighted the potential infringement of aboriginal rights and title. Legally, these represent proprietary rights that give the original communities the ability to choose what happens with their land and to determine what kind of development should exist. Overwhelmingly, during the course of the panel hearings, the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepmec indicated their preference to keep the land and culture protected for the benefit of animals and plants, and the community economy that relates to consuming from the land.

Indigenous nations still hold these rights and responsibilities, which were never legitimately or legally extinguished. Each landmark court decision affirms this fact. Like these court decisions, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which took 20 years to construct to devise basic minimal rights, expresses the need for “free prior informed consent,” the ability to make decisions in regards to the potential affects, the right to raise children within their culture and land.

Although Canada pretends innocently that the rule of law is never violated, it appears that the Tsilhqot’in will continue to face the burden of the colonial code: the Crown is superior, Indigenous inferior; therefore, the Crown shall apply arbitrary rules, processes, and initiate any economic development activity without our consent. Consent is the heart of the issue. Yet it should be clear that the Crown has not dealt with the fundamental issue concerning the land, and this unresolved issue will ensure that Taseko Mines’ proposal will fail once again.

Russell Myers

Williams Lake

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