While I was a 'newbie' in the area and I feel like I only skimmed the surface in understanding the land, culture and political history, I am left with no doubt that the reason the Tsilhqot'in area has remained so pristine has been the fierce protection the Tsilhqot'in people have given their land.
The Tsilhqot'in have fought for decades to protect their land. In 2014, it appeared that they had finally achieved victory. They are the first and only group in Canadian history to be granted a declaration of First Nations title.
Despite the objections of the Tsilhqot’in Nation and two federal rejections due to the great environmental risk, Taseko Mines continues to try and advance its “new” mine proposal on Fish Lake.
Fish Lake is in the headwaters of the Chilcotin River a major tributary of the Fraser River. The lake is home to 85,000 rainbow trout, and provides clean water for drinking, irrigation, and millions of salmon. Salmon are one of the keystone species of the region, supporting both the ecosystem and economy.
The company is now proposing to begin extensive road building, drilling, test pits, and seismic line testing, and build a 50-man camp, to advance and prepare for the construction of the rejected mine.
In response, Tsilhqot’in leaders held a water ceremony at Teztan Biny, where an eagle feather was blessed before traveling downstream along the Fraser River, and all the way to the BC Parliament in Victoria.
A lovely short film carrying an important message can be found here