Members from the Tsilhqot’in First Nations are still at home fighting the fires from within their community.
During the constant battling, exhaustion and scrambling to keep supplies in the communities, British Columbia granted controversial drilling permits over the objections of the Tsilhqot’in.
The Nation is outraged that the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines issued permits to allow Taseko Mines Ltd, to do extensive pre-construction exploration for the New Prosperity mine proposal.
The mine has been twice rejected by the Harper government in 2010 and 2014 due to Tsilhqot’in opposition and environmental and cultural impacts.
Chief Roger William is the Chief of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and Vice-Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government. He says that the government allowing this while 4 of 6 communities are evacuated is appalling and he can’t believe that the news came while the province is in a state of emergency.
The Tsilhqot’in Nation will challenge the B.C. permits in court. The permits authorize 76 km of new or modified trails, 122 drill holes, 367 test pits dug by an excavator, and 20 km of seismic lines near Teztan Biny and Nabas – an area of profound cultural and spiritual importance that the Tsilhqot’in successfully fought to protect against two mine proposals.
This is a low-blow in William’s eyes. He says the communities have been fighting to stop this for 30 years. After two federal panel hearings with a government that is ‘more friendly to big businesses and not too friendly with First Nations’, he says the communities are ready for the next fight.
For the Tsilhqot’in, this was the final blow from the Liberal regime only hours before they were officially kicked out of office.
Currently the members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation are completely dispersed across the province, some of which stayed in their home communities to fight fires, others evacuated. Most without connection to their community as services in affected areas continue to fluctuate.
Chief William is in Abbotsford staying in a hotel with a number members of his community and the Anahim First Nation community.