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