A court injunction sought against Tahltan Central Government president Chad Day and Tahltan First Nation elders for allegedly blocking a mining outfit from drilling in a culturally sensitive area near Telegraph Creek has been dismissed.
The B.C. Supreme Court injunction was sought by a mining exploration company called Doubleview after Day, another Tahltan representative and several Tahltan elders descended by helicopter onto the camp located 50 kilometres east of Telegraph Creek on July 7, 2015 asking the company to stop drilling.
Mr. Justice Christopher Grauer ruled there was not sufficient evidence that Day and the others physically prevented the company from working.
“On the evidence I have reviewed, there is nothing of substance to suggest that the defendants threatened to commit an unlawful act, or use unlawful means, against the drillers, or that they had any intention to injure either the drillers or the plaintiff,” wrote Grauer in his ruling.
The area of dispute is called Sheslay River, a stretch of land containing Tahltan First Nation burial sites and a historical dwelling area for many which archaeological digs have determined contains jade artifacts.
According to the court documents, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), in granting the permit for Doubleview to drill, had not taken into consideration all the archaeological data previously attained.
“There remains doubt on the evidence that Doubleview has the right to proceed with its exploration program on the Hat property. Doubleview submitted a letter from the MEM to the effect that it had complied with all conditions, but that letter is somewhat non-committal, and does not address the archaeological recommendations,” reads the court documents.
Day says that he wants to further develop the area for cultural purposes so that the Tahltan can again frequent the area. He says a new trail and cabin have been built there.
In the past, Tahltan activists have been threatened with and served injunctions by several companies, including Shell back in 2005 and by Fortune Minerals. Both these companies were eventually compensated by the provincial government and vacated the areas.
Day said this time events to protest Doubleviews choice of drilling location rolled out differently, which is why the injunction didn’t work.
“The difference was we did not do anything illegal. We did not block these drillers or this company from doing anything. We went there to have a conversation and have our opinion heard, we purposely brought elders out there who had a strong connection to Sheslay and we asked them to stop drilling and they stopped drilling, and there is nothing illegal about asking a company to stop,” he said.
The court documents describe how Day and the Elders were successful in convincing the Tahltan company Tahltan Drilling Services to stop their work in the camp.
In his affidavit, Doubleview president Farshad Shirvani says he was intimidated by the visit.
“After the Defendants arrived and I had an opportunity to speak with Defendant Day, I realized that they were there with intent to shut down Doubleview’s drill operations and I believed there to be a risk of the situation escalating so I called the RCMP in Dease Lake to report the uninvited Defendants,” he states.
Day said that he has visited sites before, but typically not with the same intent. “We have done other visits to exploration sites as well, but this one is a bit different because of the sensitivity of the area. At this point, we are concerned by further impacts to the Shesley area before we come together as a nation and decide exactly which part of that area we want permanently protected and which part, if any, would be open for development.”