Tŝilhqot’in Nation announces Peaceful Gathering at Teẑtan Biny and Yanah Biny; Seeks Injunction against Taseko Drilling Program
Williams Lake, BC: The Tgilhqot’in community of Xeni Gwet’in is assembling for a peaceful gathering and harvesting camp at Te2tan Biny (Fish Lake) and Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake), a place of profound cultural and spiritual significance for the Tgilhqot’in people. This peaceful gathering and camp has the full support of the Tgilhqot’in Nation.
On August 23, 2018, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld a permit authorizing Taseko Mines Limited (TML) to undertake an extensive drilling program at Te2tan Biny and the surrounding area. The Tgilhqoein Nation has appealed this decision and will be seeking an injunction to prohibit the drilling activity.
At the same time, Tgilhqot’in members from all six communities of the Tgilhqot’in Nation are gathering in unity at Te2tan Biny and Yanah Biny to exercise their Aboriginal rights and engage in the cultural and ceremonial practices that have actively connected them to these lands and waters for centuries, to the present day.
The Tgilhqoein Nation asserts that the drilling permit should never have been approved on the final day of power for the former BC Liberal Government in July 2017, to support a mine proposal that the Federal Government has twice rejected.
The drilling permit approves 76 kilometres of new or modified road and trail, 122 drill holes, 367 excavated test pits and 20 kilometres of seismic lines throughout Te2tan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny and Nabas. The Government of Canada rejected TML’s New Prosperity mine proposal in 2014, and the mine cannot legally be built as matters stand. Two independent federal panels have confirmed the area is of unique and special importance to the Tgilhqot’in.
Nits’il?in (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tiilhqot’in National Government:
“We welcome everyone up to Te2tan Biny and Yanah Biny that wishes to gather peacefully in this sacred area. Our members are calling for us to assemble as a nation at Te2tan Biny and Yanah Biny. The Provincial Government should never have issued permits for a drilling program at Te2tan Biny for a mine that cannot be built. We feel the courts and the government haven’t taken into account the significance of the Aboriginal rights and title of our people. The Nation is moving forward with an appeal in the BC Court of Appeal, while also seeking an injunction to stop the drilling program. We cannot allow TML to destroy our home, or who we are — our way of life.
Nits’il?in (Chief) Russell Myers Ross, Vice-Chair, Tgilhqot’in National Government:
“Te2tan Biny, and the greater Nabas area, is significant to the –Bilhqofin. It is our home. Our families grew up here among our ancestors. Our eldest stories and trails come from this area. Burial and archaeology sites are scattered throughout the area. We continue to return to hunt and fish annually. It is a place of peace and tranquility.”
“The Yuneit’in community continues to express this vision in the Dasiqox Tribal Park. It is positioned as an alternative to the politics of conflict. Having gone through two comprehensive Canadian Environmental Assessments where Taseko Mines Ltd failed twice, it is outrageous that we are entertaining drilling exploration for a proposal that has been rejected. Federal and Provincial laws and political action is failing Indigenous peoples and the movement towards reconciliation, consent and the acceptance of our authority in our own lands has to change. As TUhqofin, we can only encourage our citizens to assemble and to exercise our culture in the face of injustice.”
Nits’il?in (Chief) Jimmy Lulua, Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government:
“We held an emergency meeting of Xeni Gwet’in elders, members, youth to discuss this issue. Our band hall was packed and the discussion was long. At the end, each and every person in that hall approved a peaceful gathering at Te2tan Biny and Yanah Biny, to practice our rights, to harvest our food, to hold ceremonies. This drilling program is an attack on our identity, who we are as TAhqot’in people. We would never show this disrespect to others. We would never go to their homes and dig up their resting places or their sacred grounds. It is the highest disrespect to our people. We plan to come together in a good way, in a peaceful way, and gather strength from this special place and our way of life.”
TUhqofin National Government