The Tsilhqot’in Nation is calling for a safe and peaceful resolution to keep exploratory drilling from being done by Taseko Mines Limited (TML) west of Williams Lake.
In a statement released today (Tuesday) the Tsilhqot’in Nation said it wants TML to stand down on the drilling program and stop mobilization of personnel and machinery into the Teztan Biny region (Fish Lake).
The statement also said the Tsilhqot’in Nation opposes this drilling program as an imminent violation of its human rights under the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“I think our intent is just to share in a precautionary way that the issue might be escalating and to reaffirm that there is no consent given to the company to go into Tsilhqot’in Land and essentially that this mine [New Prospeirty] cannot be built,” said Chief Russell Myers Ross.
“The Canadian Environmental Decision and the Federal decision is quite clear that this can’t be built, but we’re in a situation where they’re still moving ahead with an exploration permit.”
Teztan Biny and Nabas are located in traditional Tsilhqot’in territory about 125 kilometers southwest of Williams Lake that includes 300,000 hectares of wilderness and wildlife habitat and borders a number of existing large parks and protected areas.
“This issue is not resolved and I think, we, in our position we want to see some sort of solution and don’t want to be in this situation of conflict every year or every two years or whatever it is,” Ross said.
“I think our membership and our community feel like we’ve gone through all of these processes of trying to express why this place is valuable to us, that this is home to us, and yet this company [TML] keeps coming back looking to do work here.”
“Even though the law may have failed us, I think for us we’re just trying to express that this is our Aboriginal right and this is a place that we belong to and I think in the future context of law hopefully consent is the standard,” Ross added.
“Right now this is just straining relations on all fronts.”
TML plans to commence its drilling program as of July 3.
“For New Prosperity, this is an important point in time. The law has been tested at the highest levels, the legal challenges are over, the permit is sound, the work can and will proceed,” Russell Hallbauer, President and CEO of TML said in a news release.
“What this ruling does mean is that we are taking the steps necessary to get closer to the day when such a decision can be made to build New Prosperity.”