A BC Supreme Court decision Friday, Sept. 6 has halted an exploratory drilling program from proceeding in the vicinity of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), 185 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake pending the outcome of another court case filed by the Tsilhqot’in Nation on infringement of Aboriginal rights. Loretta Williams photo

B.C. First Nation granted injunction to stop Taseko exploratory drilling

Tsilhqot’in Nation’s court case on Aboriginal rights infringement needs to be decided first

The Tsilhqot’in Nation’s injunction has been granted to stop Taseko Mines Ltd. from carrying out exploratory drilling near Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and surrounding area for its proposed New Prosperity Mine about 185 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

A decision on the injunction was handed down Friday, Sept. 6 in B.C. Supreme Court.

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua said the injunction will remain until the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s own court case against the provincial government for issuing the proposed drilling permit to Taseko is heard.

“We have rights to hunt and fish in that area and protect our cultural and sacred grounds,” Chief Lulua said. “They have to prove that they won’t impact any of those at all — that’s what will be heard in court. We don’t have a court date yet.”

Lulua said he is relieved by Friday’s decision to grant the injunction.

“It was our last Hail Mary,” he told the Tribune. “There was no other option and if we lost it would have definitely been a hairy situation. A lot of our people are fierce and when you look at our situation, our fish stocks are not in the rivers right now.”

Read more:Big Bar slide prompts first-time-ever salmon purchase by four Tsilhqot’in communities

The decision, he added, shows that courts are starting to recognize Aboriginal rights and title.

“That transition period has taken a lot of time, but since 2014 the court system seems to be doing that. It basically comes down to what judge you get — it is the luck of the draw.”

Brian Battison, Taseko Mines Ltd. vice-president of corporate affairs, told the Tribune the judge said she would not rule on whether Taseko could proceed with drilling until after the infringement court case is heard and decided upon.

The decision to halt the drilling will lead to a delay in Taseko’s ability to undertake physical work at its proposed mine site property, Battison commented.

“In a broader context it’s a decision that makes it difficult to be optimistic about resource development in the general area the Tsilhqot’in claim to be theirs,” he added.

Taseko initially received a permit for the drilling program in the summer of 2017 from the provincial government. The permit has been challenged repeatedly by the TNG and has gone before the BC Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and an application to have it heard at the Supreme Court of Canada was turned down.

On July 2, 2019, the Tsilhqot’in Nation stopped Taseko contractors from hauling equipment into the site by setting up a road block at the Farwell Canyon Road off Highway 20.

Read more: Tsilhqot’in Nation stops Taseko Mines exploratory drilling

Both sides sought injunctions in B.C. Supreme Court and the judge hearing the cases in August postponed making a decision until September.

Chief Russell Myers Ross, TNG vice-chair, said the BC Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for the Nation as the matter continues to unfold in court. “Through the Dasiqox Tribal Park initiative, we have set out a different vision for these lands and waters that respects our culture and our aspirations and creates a space for healing,” Myers Ross said. “We will continue to work to see that this vision becomes a reality for our people and that future generations benefit socially, economically and environmentally from all the sacrifices that the Nation has and continues to make.”



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Father of murdered realtor pens open letter pleading for help from Saanich mayor

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008, her case remains open

Victoria adoption centre closes despite effort to save it; B.C. left with two agencies

Choices Adoption and Pregnancy Counselling in Victoria was set to close in April

Proposed four-storey Victoria parkade offers zero spots for public use

A proposed parkade at 730-780 Summit Ave. will soon be up for discussion

Saanich man discovers hidden corners of city while cycling every street in Victoria

Cyclist maps progress while taking on 2019 goal to cover every street with road sign

Victoria’s cocktail king releases book on best bartenders in Canada

Four bartenders from Kelowna and one from Penticton are recognzied in Great Northern Coocktails

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

At least 3 hurt in California school shooting, gunman sought

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department looking for a male suspect in black clothing was seen at the location

Transgender inmate in Surrey denied transfer to women’s prison

Petitioner argued denial of transfer to women’s prison was unreasonable and unfair

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to meet with Trudeau today to discuss throne speech

Top ask will be for Liberal support for the immediate creation of a national universal pharmacare program

B.C. set to announce changes around youth vaping, regulations

Move will involved education, tightening access, working with partners and pressuring the federal government

Most Read