Public hearings on mine proposal will include Tsilhqot'in documentary
By Andrew MacLeod
March 23, 2010
Taseko Mines Ltd. has failed in its bid to prevent a documentary about the Tsilhqot'in people's connection to Teztan Biny, or Fish Lake, from being shown at a public hearing on a mine proposal southwest of Williams Lake.
The federal review panel this morning dismissed Taseko's motion that last week asked that the film Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot'in Fight for Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) not be shown at the public hearing, said Jay Nelson, a Victoria lawyer acting for the TNG, in an email. “It held that its rules of procedure did not prohibit presenting information in this form,” he said.
A lawyer acting for Taseko did not respond to a message by posting time. The submission to the panel said Blue Gold is a “propaganda film, produced to influence the opinions or behaviour of people, by providing deliberately biased content in an emotional context,” the Tyee reported.
The film's director, Susan Smitten, said she laughed when she heard the company's lawyer had called the film “propaganda.”
“The film's power comes in its authenticity,” she said. It was made as a way to help the Tsilhqot'in people express what the threatened lake means to them, she said. “They come from a position of love.”
Views of Blue Gold tripled the day after Taseko asked that the film be kept out of the hearing, she said. Filmed in two days with a budget under $10,000, it has been watched by people around the world, she said.
The film can be seen on the Hook or on Vimeo. It will be shown during the panel's evening hearings on March 24.
Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria.
Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot'in Fight for Teztan Biny
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.
This film was made possible through generous donations from several organizations including: Donner Canadian Foundation, Friends of the Nemaiah Valley and Small Change Fund.
The Tsilhqot'in Nation holds proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights in the area where Taseko wants to build its mine. Taseko's plan requires completely draining Fish Lake (which sits at the headwaters of the Taseko River and ultimately the Fraser River, 600 km north of Vancouver, BC) and filling it with waste rock. The company intends to create a reservoir to hold the 80,000+ trout. Much of the watershed to the south including Nabas (Little Fish Lake) would be used as a tailings storage facility. This is all in an area held as sacred by the Tsilhqot'in.
In the place of gorgeous, fish-bearing lakes in a pristine sub-alpine ecosystem, Taseko will leave behind an estimated 700,000,000 tons of tailings and waste materials, including arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium and other toxic metals. These toxic creations will permanently scar the area, destroy habitat for major species like grizzlies, moose and deer, and potentially contaminate the largest wild salmon run in North America (the Fraser River).
Recent changes to Canada's Fisheries Act allow for the destruction of freshwater bodies - lakes and rivers can now be used as toxic dump sites for mining corporations. Teztan Biny is just one of many lakes slated for destruction.
We are now fighting to convince the federal environmental review panel which must decide on whether to allow Taseko to proceed of the significant and irrefutable impacts the project will have. The permanent destruction of the lake would be an unfathomable cultural and spiritual loss to the Tsilhqot'in people. And it cannot be compensated ecologically.
There is more information and a place to donate on the RAVEN website - http://www.raventrust.com/