The Canoe Creek Indian Band is furious at the decision by the Provincial Government to abandon plans for a Joint Panel review of the proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake. “For 18 months we have been in contact with Canada and the Province about the process for the review of the Prosperity Project. All along they clearly indicated that a Joint Panel would be recommended, and they were simply waiting for the Ministers to make the final decision to create one. Then the Province, after all those discussions and exchanges, turns around and decides to go its own way. It’s an insult to us, and destroys any trust or respect that might have been building with the Province’s environmental assessment office,” stated former Chief of Canoe Creek, Hank Adam, who continues to speak for the Band on the Prosperity Project.
The proposed transmission line that is necessary for the Prosperity Project runs through the heart of Canoe Creek’s Traditional Territory. Canoe Creek has serious concerns about the impacts from the Project on their culture, way of life, and Aboriginal Title and Rights. Canoe Creek had been negotiating a meaningful process of consultation and accommodation and expected that a joint panel would allow for a transparent and independent review of First Nations’ concerns. Instead of responding meaningfully to those concerns, the Province has now simply abandoned the negotiations. As Hank Adam states, “Our impression is that the Provincial Environmental Assessment Office is simply caving into the wishes of Taseko Mines. When Taseko raised a few concerns, the Province abandoned 18 months of discussions and understandings with Canoe Creek. This illustrates that the EAO is not neutral or unbiased. For the Province, the corporate interests of companies clearly trump the constitutional rights of Aboriginal people.”
The province’s decision is appalling given that the Canoe Creek is close to signing an Agreement in Principle for a treaty with Canada and British Columbia. The province cannot simply make a unilateral decision that has the potential to infringe on Canoe Creek’s Aboriginal Title and Rights for generations to come. Hank Adam stated, “This decision flies in the face of BC’s New Relationship with First Nations.”
Canoe Creek recognizes that the Prosperity Project will have very significant impacts for their neighbours, the Tsilhqot’in First Nations, and applauds the strong public stance that the Tsilhqot’in has taken in recent weeks. “We will work with our neighbours to ensure that the respective Title and Rights of First Nations are not violated by the company, the Province, or the Federal Government”, said Mr. Adam, who added, “It may be that the Province’s unwise actions has seriously jeopardized any support from First Nations for the Prosperity Project.”
For further information, contact Hank Adam: h.adam(at)hotmail.com