Tsilhqoti'in Nation Commends Government of Canada on 10 Principles

  

TŜILHQOT’IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT                                      

253 – 4th Avenue North - Williams Lake, BC V2G 4T4 - Phone (250) 392-3918 - Fax (250) 398-5798

 


PRESS RELEASE

Tsilhqot’in Nation Commends Government of Canada on the “10 Principles”

Principles must now lead to real change for Indigenous peoples

 

Tsilhqot’in Territory, BC: July 24, 2017: The Tsilhqot’in Nation commends Minister Wilson-Raybould and the Federal Government for its announcement of the “Principles respecting the Government relationship with Indigenous Peoples”.

The “10 Principles” reset Canada’s approach to nation-to-nation relationships and call for respect and recognition for Indigenous self-determination and our systems of law and governance.

Particularly important are the Federal Government’s commitments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and to abandon its long-standing policy of requiring the extinguishment, modification or surrender of rights as a basis for negotiations.

Like all Indigenous peoples in Canada, the Tsilhqot’in Nation has faced a long history of denial.  In the Tsilhqot’in Nation litigation, British Columbia and Canada denied the very existence of the Tsilhqot’in Nation.  It required decades of litigation in the courts, culminating at the Supreme Court of Canada, to achieve judicial recognition of the Tsilhqot’in Nation once and for all.

For this reason, true nation-to-nation engagement between Canada and the Tsilhqot’in Nation is long overdue and calls for immediate attention.  Canada’s “10 Principles” are a positive starting point.  The Tsilhqot’in Nation will present Canada with Tsilhqot’in principles of recognition, grounded in Tsilhqot’in law and culture, as a foundation for mutual recognition. 

On this basis, of mutual recognition and respect, the Tsilhqot’in Nation stands ready to move beyond the Indian Act and stand in a true nation-to-nation relationship with Canada.  The test of Canada’s commitment to the “10 Principles” will be how deeply Canada is willing to embrace Indigenous Nations, and our rich systems of law and governance, as equals and true partners in charting the future of this country and the path of reconciliation.  

Quotes:

Chief Joe Alphonse, Chief of Tl’etinqox, Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government:

 

“We welcome this new approach from the Government of Canada.  It was past time to hit the ‘reset’ button.  Our people will never settle for anything less than full recognition of who we are, as a nation that is far older than this country, with our own laws and our own governance. These Principles are a positive step.  At the same time, they won’t mean anything until we see the lives of the people in our communities improving for the better.  I’m calling on the Prime Minister and Minister Wilson-Raybould to meet with our leadership and start making that change, based on mutual recognition and respect.  It is time to get down to the real work”.

 

Chief Roger William, Chief of Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government, Vice Chair of TNG:

 

“For over 150 years, from the time of smallpox and the Chilcotin War, our people have had to fight for basic respect and recognition in this country.  We had to go to court for recognition that we are a nation—the Tsilhqot’in Nation—and not simply bands under the Indian Act.  To this day, Canada has yet to recognize the Tsilhqot’in Nation as an order of government with our own laws, jurisdiction and responsibilities.  That has to change.  We look forward to Canada moving forward with these 10 Principles and working with us to finally recognize the Tsilhqot’in Nation and move beyond the Indian Act to the strength and authority of the ?Esggidam (our ancestors before contact)”.  

 

Media Contact:


Graham Gillies, Communications Director

Tsilhqot’in National Government

604-779-4221

ggillies@tsilhqotin.ca

TŜILHQOT’IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT                                      

253 – 4th Avenue North - Williams Lake, BC V2G 4T4 - Phone (250) 392-3918 - Fax (250) 398-5798

 

 

In time of crisis, B.C makes unbelievable move to approve drilling permits for twice rejected New Prosperity mine

ILHQOT’IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT                                      

253 – 4th Avenue North - Williams Lake, BC V2G 4T4 - Phone (250) 392-3918 - Fax (250) 398-5798

 


PRESS RELEASE

In time of crisis, B.C makes unbelievable move to approve drilling permits for twice rejected New Prosperity mine

Tsilhqot’in forced to begin legal challenge while fighting wildfires

Williams Lake, BC: July 17, 2017: In a shocking move, while four of six Tsilhqot’in communities are evacuated due to raging wildfires surrounding their communities, and while the communities have engaged in brave efforts to fight for their very survival, British Columbia has granted controversial drilling permits over the objections of the Tsilhqot’in. The Nation is outraged that the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines has issued permits to allow Taseko Mines Ltd. to conduct extensive pre-construction exploration for the New Prosperity mine proposal. This mine cannot be built. It was rejected twice by the Harper-era Federal Government in 2010 (Prosperity) and 2014 (New Prosperity) due to strong opposition by the Tsilhqot’in Nation and unacceptable environmental and cultural impacts.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation will challenge the B.C. permits in court. The permits authorize 76 km of new or modified trails, 122 drill holes, 367 test pits dug by an excavator, and 20 km of seismic lines near Teztan Biny and Nabas – an area of profound cultural and spiritual importance that the Tsilhqot’in successfully fought to protect against two mine proposals. The BC Supreme Court previously granted an injunction in 2011 to the Tsilhqot’in Nation to halt a much smaller proposed exploration program by Taseko, stating “Each newly cleared trail remains a scar, for although reclamation is required, restoration is impossible. The damage is irreparable.” (Taseko Mines Limited v Phillips, 2011 BCSC 1675, para 65)

Quotes:
Chief Roger William, Chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and Vice-Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government:

“We are in shock.  In the midst of B.C.’s worst crisis in decades, while our elders and children are threatened by wildfire, BC decides to add insult to injury by granting these permits.  BC disregarded the immense record showing the importance of this area for our culture and approved extensive ground disturbance for a mine that cannot lawfully be built. Our people are understandably angry and cannot believe that BC would approve more destruction in an area of such spiritual and cultural importance for us. Especially when we are experiencing a state of emergency.  We thought that we were in a new era, a post-Tsilhqot’in decision era. These permits call into question BC’s commitment to Indigenous peoples. It is an insult to the Tsilhqot’in people and to this new era of truth and reconciliation.”  

 

Chief Joe Alphonse, Chief of Tl’etinqox and Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government

 

This is a typical move by the Liberal government. They are a dead political party trying to mount a dead horse and hoping to ride it to a come back. One thing we are demonstrating as Tsilhqot’in is that if you threaten us, our homes, our culture – that’s when you’ll see our real strength. That area is a very special place for our people and for British Columbia to authorize more drilling and destruction for a project that is rejected and can’t even be built—this is the type of attitude we have had to fight for over 150 years and counting.  We won’t stand down now.”

 

 

Chief Russell Myers Ross, Chief of Yunesit’in and Director of the Tsilhqot’in National Government:

“I am speechless at the timing of this insulting decision.  It defies compassion that while our people are fighting for our homes and lives, BC issues permits that will destroy more of our land beyond repair. 

As a Nation, we have wasted enough time and energy in conflict. The project has been rejected twice federally. It is time to move on. As Tsilhqot'in, we are moving forward by establishing the Dasiqox Tribal Park based on our governance and values. The Provincial decision to permit further drilling is insulting. It demonstrates a serious attack on meaningful reconciliation. It is our responsibility to protect Nabas for our future generations.”


Media Contact:

 

Graham Gillies

Communications Manager and Strategic Initiatives

Tsilhqot’in National Government

C: (604) 779-4221

ggillies@tsilhqotin.ca


JP Laplante

Mining, Oil & Gas Manager

Tsilhqot’in National Government

O: (250) 392-3918 C: (250) 267-3759

Union of BC Indian Chiefs back Tsilhqot’in Nation’s position on New Prosperity

Open letter to Premier Clark, Minister Polak and Associate Deputy Minister Jardine

We are writing with respect to UBCIC Resolution 2016-49, “Support for the Tsilhqot’in Nation and Condemning the Provincial Amendment Process for the “Prosperity Mine,” which was presented, affirmed and endorsed by consensus at the UBCIC Annual General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2016 (enclosed).

On Nov. 16, 2010, the Federal Government rejected the Prosperity Mine. On February 26, 2014, the Federal Government rejected the New Prosperity Mine.

In contrast, on January 14, 2010, before the first federal panel had even started its public hearings, British Columbia approved the Prosperity Mine, on the basis of a report from the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) that dismissed the impacts of the mine on the Tsilhqot’in people as insignificant.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation and its communities endured two separate federal environmental assessment processes for the Prosperity and New Prosperity Mine proposals. In each review, an independent federal panel emphasized the profound cultural and spiritual importance of Teztan Biny and Nabas to the Tsilqhot’in people, as a gathering place, as a cultural school for youth, as a place of spiritual power and healing, as sacred burial and cremation grounds, and as critical hunting, trapping and gathering areas. The federal panel for New Prosperity Mine warned that the mine would “endanger [the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s] ability to sustain their way of life and cultural identity.”

The EAO has rejected the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s position that it is egregious and absurd to both consider further provincial approvals at this time and to subject the Tsilhqot’in people to yet another approval process. The EAO has said it has no choice but to consider Taskeo Mines Limited’s (TML) application after a letter from TML to the Premier demanding the amendment, and threatening the Province with litigation.

For the Province to advance an amendment process for the Prosperity mine despite the findings of the federal environmental assessment process and the profound impact such a project would have on the Tsilhqot’in Nation, is in direct contravention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly fully support the efforts of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to protect their lands of profound cultural and spiritual value from the proposed New Prosperity Mine, and will stand behind the Tsilhqot’in Nation in defense of these lands regardless of any amendment process or decision by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) or British Columbia.

The UBCIC advises the EAO and British Columbia that First Nations across the province are bearing witness to the New Prosperity amendment process and are alarmed and deeply concerned by the EAO’s apparent lack of integrity, and its disregard for the interests of First Nations in this province.

On behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chief Robert Chamberlin and Judy Wilson