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BC Court of Appeal grants injunction against drilling in Fish Lake area

A view of part of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)

The BC Court of Appeal has granted an interlocutory injunction against a drilling permit within the sacred sites of Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake) and surrounding areas.

On August 23, 2018, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld a permit authorizing Taseko Mines Limited (TML) to undertake an extensive drilling program at Teẑtan Biny and the surrounding area.  The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has since appealed this ruling and yesterday the BC Court of Appeal granted an injunction prohibiting the drilling program until the Court hears and decides the case. 

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 Tŝilhqot’in.

The drilling permit was granted by the BC Liberal government as one of its last acts.  It approved 76 kilometres of new or modified road and trail, 122 drill holes, 367 excavated test pits and 20 kilometres of seismic lines throughout Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake) and surrounding area.  

 Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tŝilhqot’in National Government, stated,  “We continually have to go to court to protect our cultural and spiritual sites. These areas should be off the table for any kind of invasive development. While this injunction grants a temporary relief from extensive drilling and exploration work, we are still calling on the BC Government to step in and put a full stop to this drilling permit. BC has options available to them to protect cultural sites like these. Both the Prosperity and New Prosperity projects have been rejected by the Federal government. To think that anything can proceed on this site is absolutely illogical.”

 Russell Myers Ross, Vice-Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government, said, “The Tsilhqot'in Nation is relieved that there is an injunction in place temporarily, however, it does not address the ongoing threat to our homelands. If the BC Government intends on making strides towards honouring the rights and consent of Indigenous Peoples, then the moment for reconciliation needs to be put to the test in times like these to resolve major conflicts before they escalate any further. We turn to the BC Government to make the right decision and end this conflict. Again, the Tsilhqot'in Nation is put in a position of self-defence and resorted to civil means. It is our intention to turn our energy to the Dasiqox Tribal Park, presented as an alternative vision. The more we have to fight, the more effort we put into ensuring that our children have a future in our territory.”