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

RDOS to study sites for composting facility

Penticton and Okanagan Falls landfills will be examined

Summerland grocery store offers warm atmosphere, community service

Nesters Market has been involved in numerous initiatives within Summerland

Codling moths remain a problem for Okanagan apple growers

Problem areas for pest include Summerland, Penticton and Naramata

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen works to control mosquito populations

Control efforts in the region have been starting earlier each year

Summerland Ladies Club competes for Rental Cup

One-day golf tournament sponsored by Summerland Rental Centre

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Okanagan hosts Mexico for soccer

The Okanagan Masters League won both matches against their Mexican counterparts

Epic overtime battle, big turnout for memorial night to late owner of Okanagan hockey team

The KIJHL’s Kelowna Chiefs hounoured Grant Sheridan with a win in the team’s home-opener

Takaya, B.C.’s infamous lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read