Cultural Impacts from the Proposed Mine

The Tsilhqot’in have taken the position that the proposed “New” Prosperity mine poses too great a risk to a culturally vital area and as a result, we are calling the Federal government to once again reject the proposal.  Below are some of the cultural issues which form the basis for our position.

Ts'yl?os Park Ranger and Xeni member David Setah walking through Nabas, Tsilhqot'in grazing grounds and old homesteads near Yanah Biny

Ts’yl?os Park Ranger and Xeni member David Setah walking through Nabas, Tsilhqot’in grazing grounds and old homesteads near Yanah Biny (Photo: Nate Einbinder)

Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake), Nabas, and Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) form an integral area to Tsilhqot’in culture and it is for this reason we must fight to protect the area.  The construction of the mine would result in an area restricted from access by Tsilhqot’in people and heavily industrialize one of the last remaining intact portions of our traditional lands that still sustain our Tsilhqot’in way of life.  The mine would result in a “no-go zone” – we would no longer gather medicines and teas, hunt, trap, or practice our spirituality in this area as we do now.  It would permanently sever the connection many families have for the area.

At Yanah Biny and the surrounding meadows of Nabas, there are ancestral Tsilhqot’in homes, graves and cremation sites, fishing grounds, hunting and trapping grounds, and grazing pasture for Tsilhqot’in ranchers.

Xeni Elder Marvin William and Steve Quilt fishing on Teztan Biny

Xeni Elder Marvin William and grandson Steve Quilt fishing on Teztan Biny

We are not alone in recognizing the importance of this area.  In fact, our deep cultural connection and continuing use of this area formed part of the previous Panel’s rationale as to why this mine would result in significant adverse effects.  For the Tsilhqot’in, the “new” proposal does nothing to address these impacts.

The previous Panel came to the conclusion that the inherent value of the entire Teztan Biny/Yanah Biny region would be destroyed for the Tsilhqot’in regardless of which version of the project was ultimately built.  As a result, they were unable to recommend that any version of the mine would address the impacts for the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

“The Panel finds that given the substantial value of the Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Y’anah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and Nabas areas to the Tsilhqot’in, it cannot recommend any measures that would mitigate the significant adverse effects of the Project on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes and cultural heritage by the Tsilhqot’in Nation at the proposed mine site, should the Project be allowed to proceed” (p. 203).

The Tsilhqot’in continue to stand by this important conclusion of the independent Panel.  You can read more about this area here.

Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Peyal Laceese, and Gilbert Solomon

Councillor Marilyn Baptiste, Peyal Laceese, and Xeni Elder Gilbert Solomon drumming at Teztan Biny

Cumulative Effects on Tsilhqot’in Rights and Culture

The Tsilhqot’in Nation, as with many First Nations in Canada, has had to fight to have our rights and customs recognized.  We struggle with the lingering effects of residential schools, the continuing failure to fully recognize our rights and title, and the related social impacts that these have.

Roger William from the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government has submitted a report to the new Panel about the negative impacts of these cumulative effects on Tsilhqot’in culture and rights, and why this mine proposal must be rejected.  It can be found here.