Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny and Nabaŝ are in a remote and beautiful area of profound cultural and spiritual importance to the Tŝilhqot’in Nation. The area is located 125km west of Williams Lake, BC, and includes 300,000 hectares of pristine wilderness and wildlife habitat. The area is adjacent to the salmon-rich Dasiqox (Taseko River), which also provides critical wetlands and lake habitat for wild rainbow trout, moose, grizzly bear, and many other mammals and migratory birds. Its lakes and rivers, and our Tŝilhqot’in way of life were recently threatened by a proposal for a huge, open-pit copper-and-gold mine called “New” Prosperity Mine. Teẑtan Biny is one of BC’s most productive wild trout lakes, and the surrounding area is an active Tŝilhqot’in cultural school and sacred site located within a court declared Aboriginal rights area. The Tŝilhqot’in Nation advocated for a full rejection of this proposal, which was rejected by the Government of Canada in 2014, along with a previous rejection by the Canadian government of its initial proposal (Prosperity Project) in 2010.
Please join us in our fight to protect this rare cultural and wilderness refuge in the heart of Tŝilhqot’in land, part of the headwaters of the Fraser River. Donations to support the Tŝilhqot’in National Government can be made directly through PayPal (see link below). Donations eligible for a tax deductable receipt can be made through our partner, RAVEN Trust with a note that the donation is for Teẑtan Biny.
Aboriginal Rights and Title
The proposed “New” Prosperity Mine falls within one of the few areas in Canada subject to a court declaration of proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights. This constitutes proof, beyond contention, that the Tŝilhqot’in people have hunted and trapped on these lands as an integral and defining aspect of their distinctive culture from a time before contact with Europeans to the present day. The Panel for the original Prosperity proposal described the impacts of the Project on Tŝilhqot’in Aboriginal rights as significant and immitigable. This was almost certainly a major factor in the Federal Government’s rejection of the original Prosperity Project. The second independent panel for the “New” Prosperity Project further confirmed the importance of this area for the Tŝilhqot’in people.
“New” Prosperity Mine Proposal
For decades, Taseko Mines Limited (TML) has tried to get approval for a low-grade, copper and gold mine at Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake). The Prosperity/New Prosperity Project is one of the most contested mining proposals in Canada, with major environmental issues, and lacking the free, prior and informed consent from the Indigenous peoples affected.
The most recent proposal, the “New” Prosperity Project, was rejected in 2014 by the Government of Canada following a scathing Federal Review Panel Report in 2013. This was done under the leadership of a majority Conservative Government led by former Prime Minister Harper. In response, TML filed Judicial Reviews of both the 2013 Panel Report and the 2014 rejection of the mine. TML lost all appeals with a final rejection of its claims when the Supreme Court of Canada refused its leave to appeal in 2019.
The name of this proposed mine, “Prosperity,” is ironic, given the devastation that it would mean for lands and waters that continue to provide our people cultural and spiritual prosperity. The company itself, Taseko Mines Ltd., takes its name from a river near the proposed mine site, which feeds our communities and the Fraser River with its wild salmon runs. We are deeply concerned that, beyond the immediate destruction of the mine’s footprint in this critical cultural area, there may be a serious risk of contamination of the Taseko River and on to the Fraser River, which provides one of the most abundant salmon runs in the world. The English name for the Taseko River, and for the company itself, is taken from our ancient Tŝilhqot’in name for this river – the Dasiqox. The original Prosperity mine plan was assessed by an independent federal Panel in 2010 after a series of public hearings. The Panel issued a report identifying an unprecedented range and magnitude of cultural and environmental impacts, including devastating impacts on Tŝilhqot’in culture, heritage and Aboriginal rights. The Panel’s report was described by the (then) federal Minister of Environment as one of the most ‘scathing’ reviews he had ever read.
Days after the November 2010 rejection of the previous proposal, the company announced that it would resubmit a new plan. The revised plan, renamed the “New” Prosperity Mine, was also rejected by the Canadian Government in 2014. There were reasons to believe that this revised plan was in fact worse than the previously rejected proposal, despite the claims by the company that it has somehow ‘saved’ Teẑtan Biny. In fact, this “New” Prosperity application turned out to be a re-working of an earlier alternative mine design, called Mine Development Plan #2, which the previous Panel, Environment Canada and the company itself agreed posed an “even greater longterm environmental risk.” Many of the project components remained exactly the same, including placing a massive open pit in close proximity to Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake), and destroying Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and the Tŝilhqot’in homes and graves located near that lake, to make way for a massive tailings pond.
- Backgrounder (2020)
- 2010 Federal Panel Review
- 2013 Federal Panel Review
- Tŝilhqot’in Report (2012) to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- Federal Review Panel & List of submissions
- Environmental Impact Statement for the New Prosperity proposal
- Prosperity Mine Proposal
- Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government
- Facebook Fanpage
- Dasiqox Tribal Park
- Union of BC Indian Chiefs
- First Nations Summit
- Assembly of First Nations
- First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining
- Fish Lake Alliance
- Council of Canadians (Williams Lake Chapter)
- Friends of Nemaiah Valley
- MiningWatch Canada
- Friends of Fish Lake
- Save Fish Lake (Facebook)
- Wilderness Committee
- R.A.V.E.N Trust
- Protect Fish Lake
- Sierra Club BC
- Amnesty International Canada
Your Voice can help protect our homeland!
Call or write your political representatives:
Get on the horn! In the age of the internet, try something different. Call someone’s office, give them your name, hometown and phone number, and ask them to write down your questions and call back with the answers. No response? Call again! For provincial politicians, tell them that this is an election issue for you. Or, write a letter or e-mail expressing your opposition to the mine proposal and your support for the Tŝilhqot’in.
Bring the Discussion to your Hometown:
The protection of Teẑtan Biny, Nabaŝ and Yanah Biny is in all British Columbian’s and Canadian’s interests. Consider hosting your own event to raise awareness, or share this page with your friends.