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Tsilhqot’in Nation reaches out to United Nations to protect Teztan Biny from drilling program

The Tsilhqot’in Nation is taking its struggle to protect Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) from an extensive drilling program by Taseko Mines Limited (TML) to the international level.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) issued a news release late Tuesday evening and said it is submitting an urgent request for investigation to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The submission notes that the Tsilhqot’in peoples face an imminent, “eyes wide open” violation of their most fundamental human rights under international law, including the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

“The Tŝilhqot’in are the only Indigenous Nation in Canada that has had its rights and title recognized, therefore we believe BC and Canada must move forward with the Tŝilhqot’in in a co-management governing process,” said TNG Tribal Chairman Chief Joe Alphonse.

“As far as we are concerned, Taseko has acted disgracefully throughout the years when it comes to the project at Teẑtan Biny. The Tŝilhqot’in feel as if Taseko has attempted to make a mockery of our culture, history, way of life and our Aboriginal rights, and this alone is one of many reasons why Taseko will never have the Tŝilhqot’in social contract.”

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has also invited the UN Special Rapporteur to visit Teztan Biny to witness first-hand how special the sacred place is to the Tŝilhqot’in Nation.

“BC has stated that they are committed to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and they seem to have forgotten this commitment,” Alphonse said.

“In a case like Taseko, it is apparent that our Aboriginal rights and jurisdiction aren’t being taken seriously and therefore, we are taking this matter to the United Nations in effort to get our voices heard and wake up both BC and Canada.”

An exploratory program to advance TML’s proposed New Prosperity mine was approved by the BC Liberals in 2017 on their last day in office.

“There was not enough time to hear Taseko’s application for an injunction Tuesday,” TML Vice President President of Corporate Affairs Brian Battison told MyCaribooNow.

“The Judge heard submissions about when the Taseko motion should be heard and ordered that Taseko’s motion for an injunction be adjourned until Monday, July 29.”

The Tsilhqot’in Nation said Thursday, July 11 that it has provided notice that they will be proceeding with their Notice of Civil Claim originally filed in 2017, for a full trial of the issues, to establish that the drilling program is an unjustified infringement of proven Tŝilhqot’in Aboriginal rights. 

The Nation added it will also be seeking its own injunction to prohibit TML’s drilling program until that trial is heard and decided.

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