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Greed & Destruction at Fish Lake Part 1: How Do We Measure Wealth?

Imagine a pristine wilderness. Forested mountains filled with lush vegetation, moose, grizzlies, and other animals roaming the abundant land. And at the center of it all, a crystal clear lake teeming with trout and salmon. Then imagine that your family had lived there for centuries, living off the land. Your children swimming in the lake, your great grandparents buried beneath the soil. This is your home, your history, your spirituality. Now picture that chunk of Eden transformed into a toxic waste dump. This is the story of the battle to save Fish Lake.

It’s a battle that is still underway. Taseko Mines Limited is hoping to drain the lake and access the copper and gold beneath it. In its wake, they would leave an estimated 700,000,000 tons of waste materials, including arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxic metals, rendering the land unlivable for all the people and animals who currently rely on the area to sustain them.

Those people are The Tsilhqot'in Nation, who have occupied the land near Williams Lake, British Columbia in the majestic Canadian wilderness for millennia. And they’re not about to give up their heritage and home without a fight.

When the Provincial government of B.C. okayed the mining company’s proposal to destroy the area, the First Nations people for whom the lake and surrounding area are home, took the fight to the highest court in the nation.

There, they won a reprieve as the Minister of Environment, Jim Prentice, refused to allow Taseko to proceed with their proposal to develop what they were to call “Prosperity Mine.”

Undaunted, Taseko has prepared a new proposal. That battle wages on.

Okay, so you’ve heard it a million times before – some big bad industrial company wants to make a profit while a bunch of tree-huggers cry foul. But this isn’t just another tale of environmental destruction in the name of economic welfare – this is also a story of human rights. The Tsilhqot'in culture at its very essence relies on the land. The people live there, have raised countless generations of children there, buried their families there. Who has the right to take that from them? To destroy it forever?

Or maybe you’re asking yourself, “Okay, fine, but what can I do anyway?” Well, these issues hit closer to home than it seems for those of us apparently uninvolved. Most of us aren’t connected directly to either Fish Lake or the mining industry, but our lifestyles affect decisions like the one pending at Fish Lake all the same. And after all, this is planet earth we’re talking about. Our one and only home. Chief Seattle said it best – “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Stay tuned to RosebudMag.com for Part 2 in our seven-part series on Fish Lake, published every Monday and Thursday.



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Last modified on Friday, 09 November 2012 10:31

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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