The Tahltan Central Government and the Province of British announced Monday they have entered into the first consent based decision-making agreement under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act).
The agreement honours Tahltan’s jurisdiction in land management decisions in Tahltan Territory, in recognition of Tahltan’s title and rights within its territory.
The Tahltan Central Government is the political arm of the Tahltan nation, separate from the councils governing the Tahltan First Nation, which also has reserves in Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake.
TCG speaks for Tahltan people on issues involving the approximately 94,000 square kilometres of traditional Tahltan territory, in Northern British Columbia, including the headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena rivers.
Tahltan’s minerals–rich territory is also home to Imperial Metals’ Red Chris copper and gold mine.
This agreement outlines consent-based decision-making related to the environmental assessment of the Eskay Creek Revitalization Project.
Last year, the Tahltan Nation made a $3.9 million investment in Skeena Resources’ Eskay Creek gold-silver project.
Through the agreement, the proposed Eskay Creek gold-silver project located in Tahltan Territory will be the first mining project to have permits authorized by an Indigenous Government.
Related: BC First Nation, Skeena Resources reach mining partnership peak
“Today marks an exciting step forward in the evolution of the relationship between the Tahltan Nation and the Province of British Columbia,” said Chad Norman Day, President of the Tahltan Central Government in a media statement.
“Reconciliation is not achieved with just one step. It requires ongoing innovation, collaboration and leaning into discomfort. For the Tahltan people, strengthening and preserving our culture, values and independence is why we keep pushing forward on this journey,” Day said. “The Tahltan Central Government has been clear on behalf of all Tahltan people that there will be no world-class mining jurisdiction in Tahltan Territory without robust Tahltan stewardship which must include world-class wildlife and fisheries management, strong environmental mitigation measures and recognition of our 1910 Declaration.”
“This historic step shifts B.C.’s legal decision-making framework to respect First Nations jurisdiction, recognize the inherent rights of the Tahltan, and provide a clear, stable, and sustainable path for everyone to work together. This is reconciliation in action, in the real world,” said Premier John Horgan in the statement. “By working together, we are delivering on the promise of reconciliation, supporting predictability for business, and encouraging responsible investment in B.C.”
The governments are working together to change B.C.’s traditional approach to environmental assessments and permit authorizations, by placing Tahltan values and rights at the forefront, the statement reads.
Together, the shared intent is to create a model for sustainable mining and world-class environmental practices and standards. The agreement helps advance reconciliation with the Tahltan Nation, while providing certainty for the Eskay Creek Revitalization Project.
“As an already developed mine site with existing road access, waste management facilities, nearby access to green power, and robust economics, Indigenous consent is an essential step in an efficient approval process for Eskay Creek,” said Justin Himmelright, Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Sustainability, Skeena Resources. “We look forward to working with our Tahltan partners and the governments of British Columbia and Canada to bring this iconic project back into production.”
The consent-based decision-making process outlined in the agreement demonstrates that reconciliation and economic development can go hand-in-hand, by supporting strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards as guided by the Tahltan people. This agreement positions B.C. as a preferred destination for ESG investors and is a tangible demonstration of successful collaboration with First Nations on decisions that affect them and their territories. It reflects the ability to co-create regulatory certainty for major projects.