In what Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs President, Grand Chief Stuart Phillips refers to as a state of “déjà-vu,” chiefs from the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) are back in Ottawa nearly a year after a federal government rejected a proposal by Taseko to develop a copper-gold mine on Tsilhqot’in land due to adverse environmental impacts. They are here to campaign against a repackaged proposal by Taseko that hadn’t even made it to the federal review panel last time around because it was so flawed.

The chiefs were accompanied by Finn Donnelly NDP Fisheries critic who is calling on the federal government to halt the Prosperity project without wasting taxpayer money on another environmental review.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is reviewing the current proposal and will decide whether or not it warrants a review process by November 7.

The proposal currently under review will not drain Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), however the new tailings pond proposed by Taseko will destroy two other bodies of water that are vital to the survival Teztan Biny.”Fish Lake will still be on life support and die a slower death,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste.

Chief Alfonse emphasized this morning that the TNG isn’t against development and is willing to work with companies that respect their customs and the environment.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip from the UBCIC highlighted the significance within the context of B.C. Premier Clarke’s new job creation strategy centred on the development of large-scale mining projects that will undermine First Nations rights and their ability to work with the B.C. and federal government to safeguard their well-being. “This is beyond Teztan Biny, this represents the ongoing problems in B.C.’s relationship with First Nations,” said Chief Phillip. “Teztan has become the poster child.”

AFN regional chief Jody Wilson Raybould was also present to express the AFN’s support and mentioned that at the AFN general assembly all chiefs expressed unanimous support for TNG in their effort to protect their land and water.

Meera Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan is the national water campaigner at the Council of Canadians.