Teztan Biny, Tsilhqot’in Nation

photo credit: Susan Smitten

The federal governments decision regarding Taseko Mines “Prosperity” copper-gold mine proposal is expected before the end of the month.

The proposal for the massive open pit mine includes plans to drain Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) for the stockpiling of mining waste as well as the flooding of Little Fish Lake by the tailings ponds. The same tailings will drain into the Taseko River, the Chilko River, and eventually into the Fraser, unleashing such toxins as arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium into these prime salmon and steelhead waters. A federally appointed independent review panel stated that the mine proposal would “ Create high magnitude, long-term and irreversible effects on fish, significant effects on grizzly bear, and other significant environmental effects” as well as “Permanently destroy an important cultural and spiritual area used by the Tsilhqot’in people, and lead to long-term impacts on the physical and mental health of the Tsilhqot’in.”

Teztan Biny is a sacred area for the Tsilhqot’in people and they are prepared to do whatever’s necessary in order to protect it. “If the government was to approve this proposal in defiance of these findings (of the review panel), it would have abandoned its constitutional duty to protect First Nations rights, and its responsibility to the environment, and would leave us with no choice but to defend our land against the mine proceeding” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste; “ I am willing to sacrifice my life for the sake of saving our lands and our future generations.”

Chief Baptiste, on behalf of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, has filed a Writ of Summons and a Statement of Claim in BC Supreme Court in order to protect Teztan Biny from permanent destruction. The Tsilhqot’in people are seeking a declaration of their Aboriginal right to fish in Teztan Biny, which lies in the heart of their territory. In 2007 the Tsilhqot’in won a landmark legal battle declaring their Aboriginal right to hunt, trap, and trade on over 400,000 hectares of their traditional territory, many feel insulted by the need to return to court in order to have their rights respected. “The provincial government simply has no constitutional authority to extinguish Aboriginal fishing rights,” states lawyer Jack Woodward. For the Tsilhqot’in people this is a battle that must be won.

Julian Maree, Dunne-za
Coordinator, Redwire Youth Media
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“Blue Gold” is an amazing documentary by Susan Smitten. The video explores the cultural and spiritual significance of Teztan Biny to the Tsilhqot’in people as well as the implications of the lakes destruction.

Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot’in Fight for Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) from Susan Smitten on Vimeo.

Mabel Solomon, Xeni Gwet’in Elder speaks on protecting Fish Lake


“It looks like we’ll be waiting at least one more day for the spark that could explode into a raging fire of resistance surrounding a proposed gold and copper mine on unceded Tsilhqot’in territory…”

Read more of this great article by Dawn on the Vancouver Media Co-op website http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/fr/blog/dawn/4648

For more information contact

Chief Joe Alphonse (250) 394-4212 ext 229
Chief Marilyn Baptiste (250) 394-7023 ext 202

Assembly of First Nations petition to save Fish Lake

Website links

Teztan Biny Website
Protect Fish Lake Website
Friends of the Nemaiah Valley

Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Tsilhqot’in

photo credit: Joe Foy

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