Tsilhqot’in leader wins $175,000 environmental prize

Marilyn Baptiste, a Tsilhqot’in First Nation councillor who was on the front lines in the fight against the Prosperity and New Prosperity mine is in San Francisco today to receive an international environmental award worth $175,000.

Baptiste is one of six environmental activists from Honduras to Myanmar to receive the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Baptiste is being recognized for her efforts to oppose the Propserity and New Prosperity mines proposed by Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO). The mine proposal has been twice rejected by a federal review panel, but is still the subject of ongoing legal battles.

One of the central concerns for environmentalists and First Nations in the first iteration of the proposal was the plan to drain Fish Lake to create a tailings pond. The plan was later amended to protect Fish Lake, but it too was rejected, prompting Taseko to launch a legal challenge that is ongoing.

“Marilyn worked tirelessly with community and other Tsilhqot’in Chiefs to protect Tsilhqot’in lands from the Prosperity/New Prosperity projects and this prestigious award is a great encouragement to all of us,” Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William said in a press release.

William is the chief who lead a successful Supreme Court battle that ended with the court’s recognition of Tsilhqot’in title over core lands within its traditional territory.

Baptiste is a councillor and former chief for the Xeni Gwet’in.