Video - Blue Gold
Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot'in Fight for Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) from Susan Smitten on Vimeo.
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.
Blue Gold - winner of two Honourable Mentions for Best Conservation Message & Best Use of Natural Sound at the Montana CINE International Film Festival - 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.
After weeks of hearings in Williams Lake, BC, the federal environmental review panel found that the Prosperity Mine Project will have "significant adverse effects" on the environment, and "high magnitude, long term irreversible" impacts on Tsilhqot'in people and culture. RAVEN worked in earnest with other environmental groups to convince the federal government that the project should not go forward given the panel's findings.
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.
Unfortunately, the 'win' was temporary. Taseko Mines Ltd. resubmitted a plan - one that was actually rejected in the first round as a worse environmental option - and in November 2011 the federal government agreed to let it go to a full environmental review panel hearing.
This issue has now been profiled by the LinkTV.org program Earth Focus - and you can watch an edited version of Blue Gold, entitled The Fight For Fish Lake, with interviews by MiningWatch Canada's Ramsey Hart and the film's director Susan Smitten. Please take 12 minutes to watch this - then share it with your networks. The Tsilhqot'in are once again having to raise awareness and funds to gather the appropriate science, experts and legal arguments to put forward the best case when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) panel meets in 2012.
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