Collaboration is Key to Tahltan and Nisg̱a’a Success
In the ever-evolving landscape of the Canadian mining industry, partnership, and collaboration have emerged as indispensable pillars of success. The bedrock of any thriving venture is rooted in collective achievement, which is a sentiment that resonates strongly within our First Nations communities. As Chair of the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, Carol Danielson, and Chairman of the Nisg̱a’a Growth Corporation, Chris McNeil, we write today to shed light on how our communities are navigating this new business environment in British Columbia.
Recently, our Nations, Tahltan and Nisg̱a’a, formed a historic alliance – the Treaty Creek Limited Partnership – to amplify our engagement in the Seabridge KSM Project, the world’s largest undeveloped gold project. This new partnership was announced at the Association for Mineral Explorations Round Up conference at the end of January. The forum creates opportunities for conversation and collaboration in the industry, and it is where vital relationships are nurtured. This partnership is a strong example of unity and manifests our commitment to fostering a collaborative approach and inclusive leadership within the mining industry, paving the path for economic self-determination. The goals of the partnership include economic opportunities, capacity building, employment, and engagement with local businesses that are owned by Nisga’a and Tahltan members.
For context, the Seabridge KSM Project is the world’s largest undeveloped gold project by resources (88.3M oz M&I plus 65M oz inferred), with 19.4 billion pounds of copper resources in the M&I categories plus 35.1 billion pounds in the inferred category. KSM has received its environmental approvals in one of the globe’s safest and most stable jurisdictions – Canada.
Growth through collaboration
Such collaborations are a beacon of sustainable growth and development, benefiting not only our communities but also the industry itself. When the doors of opportunity are opened wide for inclusivity, the mining sector can unearth its full potential. Our partnership with Seabridge, through the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation and Nisg̱a’a Growth Corporation, is an example of this.
Our Nations have a long-standing, historical relationship that dates back centuries, including putting our differences aside and coming to a mutual understanding on the boundaries of our respective traditional territories. This was acknowledged and settled at Treaty Creek in 1898. Further, in 1977 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Terrace, reaffirming our Nations’ allegiance to one another. Most recently, our Nations’ partnership was further solidified at the Special Assembly of the Nisg̱ a’a Nation in New Aiyansh in May 2016 and again at Hoobiyee in Ging̱ olx in 2019.
An area where we see significant potential for development within the industry lies within the realm of the female workforce in mining, and with First Nations women in particular. The inclusion of First Nations women within this industry is an opportunity that has remained largely untapped until recent years. It is an endeavour with twofold benefits – not just filling the demand for labour within the sector but also empowering and ushering in a new wave of female industry leaders and mentors.
Our focus on creating opportunities for women in mining is a significant step toward true gender parity. We envision this initiative as a vehicle for the mentorship and support of the future generation of female leaders in the mining industry. Women bring a unique perspective that can catalyze innovation, increase productivity, and help shape an equitable and inclusive work environment. Their participation should not be treated as an option, but a necessity for sustainable growth.
A seat at the table
We are committed to continuing to foster an environment where First Nations leaders have a seat at the decision-making table. Our communities have a wealth of knowledge, cultural insights, and sustainable practices that can significantly influence and enhance mining operations for the better.
As we reignite the spirit of our centuries-old Peace Treaty, the mining industry can serve as a conduit for a renewed sense of partnership between our Nations. Further, this partnership is a model for Canada where First Nations communities can collaborate on initiatives for shared prosperity.
As we move forward, any mining endeavour in our ancestral lands must respect and incorporate our voices, understanding that our involvement is vital in making mining decisions that affect our lands and people. There must be economic benefits for generations to come, thinking into the future for the well-being of both our communities and our traditional territories.
The Treaty Creek Limited Partnership stands as a testament to our unyielding commitment to partnership, collaboration, and inclusive leadership. It is our hope that this venture will serve as a blueprint for other First Nations communities and the mining industry across Canada. We believe that the path to a more prosperous and inclusive mining sector lies in unity and shared vision. The wealth beneath our lands carries the potential not just for economic growth but also for uniting our diverse Nation members toward a common goal.
Through the right partnership and collaboration, we can dig deeper than ever before – excavating minerals and metals, unearthing opportunities, and above all, revealing a path toward a vibrant, inclusive, and prosperous future for all.
Looking to the future and at the industry, the mining industry must continue to evolve its approach to engaging with First Nations communities. Our recent engagement with the Seabridge KSM Project is a prime example of this. Industry leaders recognize that meaningful partnerships are critical to the long-term sustainability of mining projects in northern British Columbia and Canada. As such, there must be a focus on growing and developing relationships and agreements that are respectful, equitable, and mutually beneficial. By doing so, the mining industry can help to promote economic development, environmental stewardship, and social justice in Indigenous communities.
About the Authors
Carol Danielson is the Chair of the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC). She was appointed to TNDC’s Board of Directors in February 2021 and assumed the Vice Chair/Acting Chair role in April 2021. She is passionate about community service, and working with people, families, and youth. She was born and raised in Tahltan/Kaska Territory and lived, worked, and raised her family in Dease Lake for more than 20 years. Carol’s Tahltan name is Ishkadi DisTs’ eze. She is from the Dekama family, with the Crow clan.
Chris McNeil has been appointed as Chairperson of the Board for the Nisga’a Growth Corporation. The Nisga’a Growth Corporation is owned by the Nisga’a Nation and operates all commercial interests on behalf of the Nisga’a Lisims Government.