~ Winner of two Honourable Mentions for Best Conservation Message and Best Use of Natural Sound in the Montana CINE International Film Festival! ~
Blue Gold expresses the Tsilhqot'in peoples' unanimous rejection of Taseko Mines Ltd.'s proposal to drain Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) in order to stockpile mining waste.
"It is not possible for us to agree to the destruction of the land that sustains us." ~ Chief Marilyn Baptiste, Xeni Gwet'in First Nation.
One of RAVEN’s first projects was supporting the Tsilhqot’in National Government and Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in their legal action against the proposed – and ill-named – Prosperity Mine. The project that Taseko Mines Ltd. wanted to push through would have destroyed the lake and filled the area with toxic waste. The lake is sacred to the Tsilhqot’in and Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and is part of a pristine watershed that runs to the Fraser River.
RAVEN raised funds – with the generous support of Friends of the Nemaiah Valley, Donner Canadian Foundation, Small Change Fund and Global Greengrants – to produce the short film Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot’in Fight for Teztan Biny. The film gave voice to the Tsilhqot’in’s unanimous opposition to the mine and was shown to the federal environmental review panel at the public hearings in Williams Lake, BC (which we believe to be a Canadian first – to have a documentary shown as part of a federal environmental review).
RAVEN worked with other environmental groups to raise funds when there was not enough money to pay the experts to attend the federal hearings. Thanks to the amazing support of our online donors, we raised the funds needed in just three weeks to ensure the people with the technical expertise were present to explain scientifically why the Prosperity plan was deeply flawed. And RAVEN received much needed financial support from the Fitzhenry Family Foundation to cover the legal costs of writing the final submissions on behalf of the Tsilhqot’in.
We celebrated with the Tsilhqot’in when the CEAA panel issued its final report. Based on the overwhelming evidence brought forward during public hearings, the independent Panel concluded that mine would have “cumulative high and irreversible impacts” in a number of areas, including Tsilhqot'in people and culture, that the false “Prosperity Lake” could not begin to meet DFO's requirements for “no net loss”, that the impacts on blue-listed (endangered) grizzly bears would also be cumulative and irreversible, and that navigation under the Navigable Waters Protection Act would be impossible.
The Panel also clearly described what would be at stake for the Tsilhqot'in people: "The Panel has determined that the loss of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and Nabas areas for current use activities, ceremonies, teaching, and cultural and spiritual practices would be irreversible, of high magnitude and have a long term effect on the Tsilhqot'in" [Report, p. 203]. The Panel confirmed that "the island in Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), which would be destroyed by the mine waste storage area, is a place of spiritual power and healing for the Tsilhqot'in."
On November 2nd, Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced that cabinet had rejected the mine! In a news release, the Environment Minister stated, "...the significant adverse environmental effects of the Prosperity project cannot be justified as it is currently proposed." Jim Prentice went on to say: The Prosperity project has also undergone a thorough review process, including an environmental assessment by the province of British Columbia and a Federal Review Panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. In making its decision, the Government of Canada took into consideration the conclusions of the report of the Federal Review Panel, and agreed with the Panel's conclusions about the environmental impacts of the project.
Congratulations to the Tsilhqot'in National Government and Xeni Gwet’in First Nation! And thank you to all those who supported them in this monumental fight.
For more information about RAVEN's work, please visit our website at raventrust.com