Victory! This sacred lake on Tsilhqot’in territory is protected from drilling equipment, at least for now

Victory! This sacred lake on Tsilhqot’in territory is protected from drilling equipment, at least for now. 

Today a provincial court judge granted an injunction against Taseko Mines, halting work on the controversial New Prosperity mine proposal. 

In response to the decision, Tribal Chairman of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government, Joe Alphonse said, “Taseko has been nothing but disrespectful and the message to them here today is loud and clear – stop threatening our cultural and sacred lands because it’s a battle they aren’t ever going to win.” 

Teztan Biny, or Fish Lake, is a rich freshwater ecosystem in the headwaters of an important tributary of the Fraser River. It supports a huge wild trout population as well as other wildlife, plants and medicines. It’s literally home to many Tŝilhqot’in people who were born near the lake. 

Taseko Mines proposed draining the lake and using it as a tailings pond for a huge open-pit copper and gold mine. The Tŝilhqot’in and the federal government rejected that plan. Next, Taseko proposed building the tailings pond upstream from the lake. The Tŝilhqot’in and Ottawa rejected that plan too. 

On her last day in office, Premier Christy Clark gave Taseko (a major campaign donor) a provincial permit to carry out drilling work to push the project forward. The Tŝilhqot’in communities have been fighting that permit ever since, both in court and on their territory with roadblocks in July. 

The Tŝilhqot’in have launched a lawsuit against Taseko and the Province of BC for infringing on their proven Aboriginal rights at Teztan Biny. Today the judge agreed that case needs to be heard in full — and in the meantime, no work can be completed on the mine. 

While it’s too early to declare this ill-considered goldmine dead, Taseko’s Environmental Assessment certificate expires in January. Without completing substantial work on the project, it’s unlikely they can get the certificate extended. 

Please join us in congratulating the Tŝilhqot’in National Government — and thanking the Tŝilhqot’in people for protecting this beautiful corner of B.C. on all of our behalf. If the mine can be stopped for good, the Tŝilhqot’in plan to turn this area into Dasiqox Tribal Park, a protected area open for all British Columbians to visit and enjoy.


P.S. See photos and videos of the beautiful area around Teztan Biny:

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