Band leader counters column’s claims that U.S. interests fund anti-mine fight

In Business in Vancouver’s December 13-19 edition, Vivian Krause continues to perpetuate conspiracy theories that make no sense and are deeply offensive to First Nations. (See “U.S. funding against Prosperity mine: $2 million for B.C. mining reform.”)

In Business in Vancouver’s December 13-19 edition, Vivian Krause continues to perpetuate conspiracy theories that make no sense and are deeply offensive to First Nations. (See “U.S. funding against Prosperity mine: $2 million for B.C. mining reform.”)

A former salmon farming industry executive, Krause has a number of theories that imply that First Nations do not speak for themselves. For example, she claims that opposition to salmon farming is a U.S.-funded plot to promote Alaskan wild salmon, when in fact it is driven by B.C. First Nations and non-aboriginal wild salmon fishermen seeking to preserve their resources and industries and by people from all walks of life who can see the overall reality and long-term impacts to wild salmon.

She also claims opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is a plot by U.S. environmental foundations to secure tarsands oil for the U.S. by preventing its export to Asia.

Now, in her BIV column, she extends her conspiracy theories to support for mining reform in B.C. and specifically for the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s fight to protect its traditional lands and sacred Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and Nabas from one of B.C.’s worst-ever mine proposals – the Prosperity Mine project.

Krause implies that millions of dollars have poured into the Tsilhqot’in fight as a campaign from U.S. environmental funders to promote their country’s economic interests. This is laughable and deeply offensive.

Laughable because, in facing a company that has already spent $100 million on its mine campaign and a provincial government that spends taxpayer dollars to support this company, the Tsilhqot’in have worked on a shoestring to seek justice in this matter.

Deeply offensive because, as with all her conspiracy theories, Krause portrays us as pawns in some sinister plot to promote U.S. commercial interests. In doing so she demeans our sovereignty as First Nations and trivializes our serious issues, not to mention the honourable intentions of those who share our vision of a province that places respect for the environment and proven aboriginal rights above the interests of one mining company.

The facts are available to any trained researcher who genuinely seeks the truth. The campaigns Krause attacks as the commercial initiatives of foreign funders are all domestic issues that First Nations have long fought for. They are our issues.

Any funding we receive comes with no strings attached. Funders do not control or direct us. Any funding we can find is earned, in the sense that it is provided by those who believe that we deserve to be able to stand up for our rights and environment.

We are grateful to all funders, such as Victoria-based RavenTrust, one of the groups Krause singles out in her BIV article, for tirelessly seeking funds to help us. Much of the help we receive is time volunteered by Canadian groups and individuals, including many local residents.

If some of funding raised by RavenTrust comes from foreign sources, then what of it? This generosity is to support our story, not foreign interests.

Despite Krause’s insinuations, the Tsilhqot’in have not received millions of dollars, not even remotely close. We are constantly scrambling to find the resources to respond to the latest moves by the company and the province to press ahead with the discredited Prosperity Mine proposal.

We now face an environmental review for a Prosperity Mine proposal that the original review, based on studies by the company and Environment Canada, found to be worse than the plan rejected last year. This burden is a serious challenge for our people financially and from a community-health perspective as we struggle against a company, industry and provincial government that appear to have no shortage of funds or human resources.

We are proud that so many Canadians support us and that U.S. funders are willing to help based on the merits of our cases. We are also pleased that in the larger picture, we are not the only ones seeking to improve the archaic and unbalanced mining laws in B.C.

We are amazed any credence is given to the twisted logic that portrays our position as undemocratic and unpatriotic. Krause herself has admitted she has no evidence to support her claims, and experts such as the National Post’s Jonathan Kay, author of a book on conspiracy theories, dismiss her allegations.

Our proud Tsilhqot’in seek an honourable reconciliation of our aboriginal rights and title, beginning with respect for our deep cultural connection to Teztan Biny and the region surrounding it. We hope BIV readers will see through Krause’s sloppy research and disrespect for our autonomy and recognize that her article and this mine proposal should be dismissed. •