William Court Case

Teztan Biny, Y’anah Biny and Nabas fall within lands identified by the Xeni Gwet’in as “the spiritual and economic homeland of our people” in the Nemiah Declaration (1989).  The Xeni Gwet’in and other Tsilhqot’in communities fought for over two decades in the courts to protect these lands against plans for large-scale clear-cut logging.

Tsilhqot'in drummers at Yanah Biny

Tsilhqot’in drummers at Yanah Biny

Tsilhqot’in vs. BC,  in Supreme Court

In 2007, the B.C. Supreme Court held that the Tsilhqot’in people have Aboriginal rights to hunt and trap throughout this entire area, including Teztan Biny, Y’anah Biny and Nabas, as well as rights to trade in skins and pelts and to capture and use wild horses.  The Court also held that the planned provincial forestry infringed these Aboriginal rights and could not be justified.  In June 2012, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected British Columbia’s appeal and fully affirmed the trial court’s findings on these matters.

Aboriginal Rights are Human Rights!

Aboriginal Rights are Human Rights!

Aboriginal Rights

As a result, the proposed “New” Prosperity Mine falls within one of the few areas in Canada subject to a court declaration of proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights.  This constitutes proof, beyond contention, that the Tsilhqot’in people have hunted and trapped on these lands as an integral and defining aspect of their distinctive culture from a time before contact with Europeans to the present day.  The Panel for the original Prosperity proposal described the impacts of the Project on Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal rights as significant and immitigable.  This was almost certainly a major factor in the Federal Government’s rejection of the original Prosperity Project.