When Tsilhqot’in were given back their rights and title, it feels like the end of a war concerning claiming aboriginal land for industrial purposes. However, this is not the case for Taseko Mines who have been struggling to get the Government’s approval for their gold and copper mine near Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).
Cultural vs Industrial
Taseko’s gold and copper mine was rejected twice by the Ministry of Environment as it will have ‘adverse environmental effects‘ towards Tsilhqot’in’s sacred fish lake. For a long time, the Tsilhqot’in National Government has tried to empower the people of Tsilhqot’in, their territary, and to protect the Tsilhqot’in land and resources. Building the mine will be going against the Government’s mission.
The issue here is contemplating between building the gold and copper mine (that may be beneficial for the economy?) or preserving cultural heritage. It would be unethical to build the mine in a sacred land, but will we be rejecting an opportunity of earning more revenue?
I believe the solution that Taseko should do is to cooperate with Tsilhqot’in and build a joint management system, such as the Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park in Stein Valley rather than arguing about both parties’ views towards the environment and what actually defines being “environmentally friendly.” Working together will let Taseko gain more knowledge of one of their main stakeholders, Tsilhqot’in, and the environmental conditions around it.