Caution Federal Government against ignoring CEAA panel’s findings
For immediate release: July 22, 2010: The Tsilhqot'in National Government today welcomed the pledge by the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs-in Assembly to “stand behind the Tsilhqot’in Nation in defence of these lands regardless of the decision made by the Federal Government.”
“The message from the chiefs at the Annual General Assembly in Winnipeg this week should make it clear to government and industry that this environmentally and culturally unsupportable – and economically questionable – proposed mine is not the way forward for mining or for relationships with First Nations in BC or Canada,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair, Tsilhqot’in National Government.
Chief Alphonse said: “First Nations across the country are backing us and making this a national fight because they know that if this can happen to us, it can happen to them. This project is not justifiable. The federal government must heed the findings of significant and irreparable harm to the environment and to our culture and rights that were reported in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review of this project. It must reject the Prosperity proposal.”
Xeni Gwet’in Chief Marilyn Baptiste said: “Chiefs throughout the country have spoken with one voice to support the positions already taken by our government, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the BC First Nations Summit, BC’s Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and other First Nations groups, and in a personal letter of support from AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.
“The message to the federal government is loud and clear: There is no way that approval of this mine will be accepted by First Nations of the Tsilhqot'in, the province or the country,” said Chief Baptiste.
The resolution states that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:
1. Fully support the efforts of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to protect their lands of profound cultural and spiritual value to its people from the proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine, and will stand behind the Tsilhqot’in Nation in defence of these lands regardless of the decision made by the Federal Government.
2. Call upon the Federal Government to heed the cautions of its independent Panel, demonstrate commitment to environmental protection and the cultural survival of First Nations, and reject the proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine.
3. Advise the Federal Government that First Nations across Canada are watching its decision to see whether there remains any value or integrity in environmental assessments for major projects, or whether First Nations must turn to litigation and other means to assert our rights and protect our cultures.
4. Caution the Federal Government that approval of the proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine, despite the clear warnings of its independent Panel, would demonstrate utter disregard for the survival of First Nations as distinctive cultures within Canada.
5. Direct the National Chief and Assembly of First Nations to advocate on behalf of the Tsilhqot’in Nation and communicate the clear support of Chiefs-in-Assembly.
Media inquiries: Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, TNG (250) 305-8282