Marilyn Baptiste of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in British Columbia has won the prestigious $175,000 Goldman Prize for her five-year effort to prevent construction of the Prosperity gold and copper mine 600 kilometres north of Vancouver.
“I hope the Goldman award will bring world recognition to help us protect our land,” Baptiste told DeSmog Canada. “We’d like to improve our lives, but our land and water comes first.”
That simple statement echoes the words of millions of indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world facing governments and industries intent on extracting minerals, oil, coal, gas and timber from their lands.
“It’s the same story everywhere,” she said.
However, the beginnings of a new story may be in the works in Canada. Baptiste is a member of the Tsilhqot’in people who won a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2014 that granted aboriginal title to more than a 1,750-square-kilometre area in the Cariboo-Chilcotin area.