OTTAWA, Nov. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said yesterday's Federal Review Panel report concluding that the Prosperity Mine Project would result in significant adverse environmental and cultural effects on the traditional territory of the Tsihlqot'in Nation validates the Tsihlqot'in's long-standing concerns about the project and compels the federal government to reject the proposal.
"The report of the Federal Environmental Review Panel clearly states that the Prosperity Mine project would have significant adverse impacts on the surrounding lands and environment and would endanger the ability of the Tsihlqot'in to 'sustain their way of life and cultural identity,'" said AFN National Chief Atleo. "All First Nations need to stand with the Tsihlqot'in National Government in demanding that First Nations rights and interests and environmental concerns be fully recognized and respected. First Nations are not anti-development but we will never support development at any costs where our lands, lives, cultures and traditional territories are concerned. Only through recognition and affirmation of Indigenous rights and environmental responsibility can we together build viable and effective economic development for all peoples and for the future."
The New Prosperity Mine is a project proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd. in BC's Chilcotin ("Tsihlqot'in") region about 550 kilometres northeast of Vancouver. A proposal for the mine was already rejected by the federal government in 2010 and yesterday's report concerns a modified proposal for the mine.
AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould stated: "The findings of the Environmental Review Board are clear. New Prosperity will destroy the environment and in so doing continue the ongoing erosion of the Tsihlqot'in and Secwepemc peoples' way of life. The decision for the federal government to make in this case is now equally clear - New Prosperity cannot proceed." In anticipation of future decisions respecting major resource development projects planned in BC, such as Northern Gateway and the Site C dam, Regional Chief Wilson-Raybould added: "The question before all Canadians, looking forward, should be: what is the appropriate balance between the need for economic development to sustain a modern economy and the need to protect our environment in order to sustain the natural world, including our peoples' traditional way of life? We must find ways to reconcile differing perspectives which will require a more robust and principled discussion by Canadians about the future of this country as both an exploiter of natural resources and one that promises environmental sustainability and respect for Indigenous rights, including Treaty rights."
The AFN and National Chief Atleo will be welcoming and honouring a delegation of Tsihlqot'in Elders, citizens and supporters on Tuesday, November 5 when their Indigenous Land Title Express: Tsihlqot'in Journey for Justice caravan arrives in Ottawa. The caravan travelled from Tsihlqot'in traditional territory in BC to Ottawa to witness the Supreme Court of Canada hearing in the William case on Thursday, November 7. That case deals with the Tsihlqot'in title to their traditional territory and is considered one of the most important Aboriginal rights cases in decades. The AFN is an intervenor in the case to support the Tsihlqot'in and recognition of Aboriginal title.
Follow the Indigenous Land Title Express: Tsihlqot'in Journey for Justice at: https://www.facebook.com/events/577219655672722/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
For further information:
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]
Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or [email protected]