Mr. Hallbauer advises that aboriginal groups
should be ignored if they request that a Panel member be an aboriginal
person, presumably on the basis that such a person is inherently biased.
To explain this concern, he cites the presence on the first CEAA Panel
of Tahltan mining expert Nalaine Moran.
“We made an application to the
original panel asking that the member in question recuse herself on the
basis of her prior comments evidencing a reasonable apprehension of
After seeking legal counsel on the matter, the panel
decided that “counsel concludes that there is nothing in the
materials submitted by Taseko that would suggest to a reasonable person,
fully informed of the nature of an environmental assessment review
under the Act and the mandate of the Panel, and viewing the matter
objectively, would think that Panel member Morin would not be able to
fulfill that duty
he Panel’s duty is to “consider and assess” information brought before
it, a task any open minded person can perform fairly regardless of
heritage. Why is Taseko still refusing to accept this finding and
continuing to suggest that aboriginal input on the Panel is biased and
second complaint is in regard to native spirituality. Mr. Hallbauer
objects to any acknowledgment, or even display, of native spirituality.
Among others things, he objects to prayers and drumming prior to
hearings – even when conducted on reserve lands, as many of the hearings
were. “For example, we believe that it was not appropriate for the panel to begin its hearings with an aboriginal prayer ceremony”.
Is Mr. Hallbauer presuming to dictate how First Nations communities
conduct, and participate in, processes within their own precincts?
This letter also demonstrates the Taseko wants to limit how the Tsilhqot'in people deliver the message to the Panel.
First, children's voices should not be heard. Mr. Hallbauer objected to
the play put on by the children of the Naghtaneqed School in the
Nemaiah Valley. While he referred to them as “kindergarten” children,
higher grades also participated in the Panel process with pride. Taseko
asks that the voice of aboriginal youth should be kept out of the Panel
Second, the voices of families and elders heard in the video, “Blue
Gold”, should not be heard either. The film speaks to the connection to
place of a people on the brink of devastating change that threatens
their way of life and it is a film that is entirely the voices of the
Tsilhqot’in people themselves with no voice overs. Taseko says the video
is “sensational” and full of “purported facts”, further attempting to
diminish the knowledge of the people who inhabit this land.
Reaction to this letter has been swift and clear.
TML slammed for offensive attack on Aboriginal participation in Prosperity Mine review
Tsilhqot’in Territory, May 1, 2012: A deeply offensive letter from
Taseko Mines Ltd (TML) to the Harper government, urging Environment
Minister Kent to impose new limits on First Nations participation and
remove key Aboriginal concerns from the review of its rebid Prosperity
Mine proposal, raises fears that the company’s lobbying could reduce the
federal review to a version of British Columbia’s weak “rubberstamp”
process that approved TML’s first, discredited bid.
In a recently obtained Nov. 23, 2011 letter to Minister Kent, TML President and CEO Russell Hallbauer urges Minister Kent to:
· Prohibit Aboriginal prayers or ceremonies at the start of
Panel hearings – even though this is a matter of basic respect by
governments and tribunals when engaging with First Nations;
· Impose new limits on our communities’ ability to expressing
their views, including those of our youth, whose future is at stake, and
by banning videos and other commentaries; and
· Prevent the Panel from considering the spiritual importance of
the area to the Tsilhqot’in people, even though this is central to our
culture. (Read the entire Press release HERE
Globe and Mail: Taseko Mines Asks Harper to put Limits on First Nations Input
Vancouver Sun: Taseko Plans to Ban Prayers at Meetings
CBC: Taseko Rejects Aboriginal Spirituality in Mine Review
This also links to a radio interview with Bob Simpson, Independent MLA for Cariboo North who released the letter to the media.
The new CEAA Panel will soon be appointed. The fight to stop "New
Prosperity" Mine is increasing in strength. It's important to remember
that not only was the proposed destruction of Fish Lake/Teztan Biny an
important factor in the first refusal, the Panel also found the mine “would
result in significant adverse environmental effects on fish and fish
habitat, on navigation, on the current use of lands and resources for
traditional purposes by First Nations and on cultural heritage, and on
certain potential or established Aboriginal rights or title."
These issues are not resolved by the "new" proposal.
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