A ruling to end all rulings

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The New Prosperity mine was the project that just wouldn’t die.

Formally proposed by Taseko Mines in 2008, rejected by the Harper government in both 2010 and 2014 and subsequently caught up in a series of federal and provincial court battles, the controversial open-pit gold and copper mine finally met its legal end this month with a Supreme Court of Canada decision.

The ruling finally gives the Tsilhqot’in a chance to breathe a sigh of relief more than a decade after it began a fight to protect a sacred region — Fish Lake — from the impacts of Taseko’s project.

Judith Lavoie has been reporting on the saga for years, including a visit to Tsilhqot’in territory in central B.C. last year to write a story for The Narwhal. As soon as she arrived, she was awestruck by the vastness and beauty of the Nemiah Valley. “You realize very quickly why this has been so important.”

For the Tsilhqot’in Nation, control over its territory has been a 30-year fight that’s continued even after a landmark 2014 ruling — the first in Canada to formally recognize Aboriginal title.

Like clockwork, Judith watched as Taseko pushed forward from one case to the next.

“It was actually sort of unbelievable because you think, ‘OK, well this is fairly straightforward. They’ve been told no so that’s it.’ And then the next [case] would come along,” Judith recalls. (That’s her below reporting from Tsilhqot’in territory.)

“It is an example of how companies should not behave around First Nations if they want to develop projects in traditional territories.”

Even with this month’s Supreme Court decision, there are no guarantees that Taseko will go away: the company still holds an exploration permit in the area as well as an environmental assessment certificate, both originally issued by the former BC Liberal government. With these rights in hand, some worry the company will simply submit a fresh proposal and extend the saga.

Chief Joe Alphonse, Tsilhqot’in National Government chairman, sounded this note of caution: “I never count these guys out. … These guys would try to pump oxygen into a dead horse.”

Thanks for reading. We hope you are staying healthy and safe.

Arik Ligeti
Audience Engagement Editor

P.S. Please give a warm welcome to our brand new Senior Editor Elaine Anselmi, who has quite the story of meeting a pod of narwhals in Baffin Bay — long before she joined our Narwhal pod. We couldn’t have dreamed up a more fitting match!

P.P.S. Our team also has its first-ever intern. Zoë Yunker knew she wanted to intern at The Narwhal as soon as she started journalism school, and now she’s here! We’re so excited to have her around.

The Narwhal relies on dedicated readers like you to power our journalism.


Taseko’s loss in Supreme Court may not be the end of embattled New Prosperity mine, Tsilhqot’in warn

By Judith Lavoie

Whether or not the company — which still owns mineral tenures near Fish Lake — will start up a new process to pursue mining ambitions is the ‘big question,’ says Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua. Read more.

Cedar LNG in Kitimat: 9 things to know about the Haisla’s proposed floating gas export terminal

By Natalia Balcerzak

The Haisla Nation’s water-based production and storage facility, proposed for the Douglas Channel in northwest B.C., will not undergo a federal environmental review. Read more.

Yukon putting cart before horse by approving roads without completed land use plans: new report

By Julien Gignac

Green-lighting new roads into undisturbed regions irreversibly changes the landscape before the full spectrum of impacts can be considered, says Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Read more.

‘An environmental stain’: B.C. announces plan to clean up 2,000 oil and gas wells

By Sarah Cox

Federal COVID-19 relief funds will aid in the clean up of dormant and orphan oil and gas sites in northern B.C., creating 1,200 jobs, but observers say the bad habit of leaving industry environmental liabilities to the taxpayer needs to end. Read more.

Meet Elaine Anselmi, The Narwhal’s new Senior Editor

By Zoë Yunker

She’s tree-planted across the country, followed a pod of narwhals and baked her own bread long before it was quarantine-cool. We’re not sure if we can keep up with Elaine, but we’ll try. Read more. What we’re reading Note from a Narwhal We can’t stop gushing at this adorable picture courtesy of Narwhal member Jess Housty. Fun fact: Jess’s tweet was what spawned our story on yachters arriving in Heiltsuk territory during the pandemic. Thanks for being a swell member, Jess!

If you’re not already, make sure to follow us on Instagram — and tag us with your selfies in Narwhal swag. r33

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