AFN Chiefs join Tsilhqot'in in opposition to rebid Prosperity Mine project
MONCTON, NB, July 14, 2011 /CNW/ - The Tsilhqot'in National Government today welcomed the unanimous decision by the Assembly of First Nations' Chiefs-in-Assembly in Moncton to help the Nation defend its lands against a bid to revive one of the worst mining proposals in BC history.
"This is as important as the Chiefs-in-Assembly's pledge last year to support us in defending our lands against the original proposal, and the opposition to this repackaged but equally bad mine is as strong as ever," said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair, Tsilhqot'in National Government (TNG), who moved the motion.
"The federal government upheld the honour of the Crown last year by rejecting the original devastating proposal," said Chief Alphonse. "The renewed support of the AFN gives us the confidence that we are on the right track. As Indigenous Peoples, it's not always about economics, but about the environment that we live with. We don't just look at things for the next 20 years, but for many generations into the future. The Prosperity deposit lies in a sacred and sensitive region where mining is not acceptable."
The Chiefs-in-Assembly resolution states the AFN "will stand behind the Tsilhqot'in Nation in defence of these lands regardless of whether the Federal and Provincial governments deem the new proposal worthy of review or approval."
It cautions that approval of this project by the federal government "would demonstrate utter disregard for the survival of First Nations as distinctive cultures within Canada and it would ignore the recent commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." It also advises that approval would seriously undermine the integrity of the environmental assessment process and First Nations faith in it.
The TNG's Chief Francis Laceese of Tl'esqox, who seconded the motion, said: "We have national support because this raises national issues, as all First Nations across the country continue to strive for our way of life and respect for our inherent rights that include protection of the environment for future generations. We call on the federal government to recognize that this bid is at least as bad as the one it rejected last year after accepting the findings of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review panel, which then Environment Minister Jim Prentice called "scathing" and "probably the most condemning" he had ever seen."
Meanwhile, Xeni Gwet'in Chief Marilyn Baptiste, of the TNG, was attending the Xeni Gwet'in Elders Gathering in the Teztan Biny region. The annual gathering celebrates Tsilhqot'in traditional culture, food and spiritual practices that continue to sustain the Nation.
Chief Baptiste said: "Our annual gatherings demonstrate that we continue to rely upon the Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) region and this was recognized by the Federal Review Panel as a key reason why Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake), Nabas, and downstream salmon stocks are all integral to Tsilhqot'in health and well-being, and why the proposed mine alternative is actually worse for the Tsilhqot'in and the environment." All of these areas continue to be threatened with total destruction by the company's new proposal.
The full resolution, 24-2011, can be viewed on the AFN website at:
JP Laplante, TNG Mining, Oil and Gas Manager (Tel: 250-267-3759)
Norma Myers, Acting Executive Assistant, TNG (Tel: 250-392-3918)