The Tsilhqot’in Nation is firing back at the BC Government with legal action following the confirmation this past Friday that the Province has issued permits to Taseko Mines for work related to its proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake, West of Williams Lake.
According to a press release issued by the aboriginal government, “The Tsilhqot’in Nation has launched a court challenge asking the B.C. Supreme Court to invalidate or suspend approvals granted by British Columbia to Taseko Mines Limited for extensive drilling, excavation, timber clearing, road construction and other exploratory work for its controversial ‘New’ Prosperity Mine.”
Earlier this week, leaders representing the Nation condemned the Clark Government’s decision to award work permits long before the highly controversial project receives federal approvals. The Harper Government confirmed on Monday that an amended proposal for the project it rejected last year will receive a second federal environmental assessment.
The judicial petition filed in the BC Supreme Court alleges the Province neglected to consult and accommodate First Nations regarding the controversial permits.
“This company went through years of exploration for its failed first bid,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet’in people, upon whose territory the mine would be built. “Now they want to go back in there and drill more holes, dig nearly 60 test pits and clear over 23 kilometres of road, all for this new mine proposal that the company knows – and has publicly stated – is worse for the environment that its preferred option. We are appealing to the court to uphold the principles of fairness and justice.”
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government added, “We’re talking about serious impacts for our rights and our culture. The Province refused to acknowledge these impacts, no matter what we
say; it is more concerned with handing over approvals. We’ve gone to
court before, we’ve stood in front of the federal panel, we have proven
over and over again how important these lands are to our people and our
culture – but the Province never seems to get the message.”
The Nation’s legal counsel, Jay Nelson, said the Province secretly approved the permits 6 weeks ago, without alerting his clients. “We all know this is a high conflict situation, and this kind of disrespect only throws fuel on the fire,” he added.