VANCOUVER – The Tahltan Central Government (TCG) and the Province of British Columbia have entered into a historic consent-based decision-making agreement under Section 7 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
The agreement is in regards to the Red Chris gold and copper mine located in Tahltan Territory and is regarded as “a necessary step forward in the evolving progression of a co-governance relationship between the two governments,” a government release said.
The agreement was signed in a ceremony on Nov. 1 by Tahltan Central Government President Chad Norman Day, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman and provincial Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin. It was witnessed by Iskut Band Chief Marie Quock, Tahltan Band Chief Carmen McPhee, Josie Osborne, B.C. minister of energy, mines and low-carbon innovation, and Nathan Cullen, the MLA for Stikine, B.C.
“Tahltan Nation and the province have built a strong partnership together, one that supports economic certainty for projects within Tahltan lands and provides regulatory clarity, while protecting the environment for the generations who will be impacted for years in the future,” Heyman said in the release. “We are proud and excited to collaborate on decision-making processes for natural-resource projects in Tahltan Territory in ways that are consistent with our revitalized environmental-assessment legislation. This agreement recognizes Tahltan title and rights and helps create a clear, predictable, sustainable path forward that will build the prosperity of Tahltan Nation and all British Columbians.”
Under the agreement, Tahltan and the Environmental Assessment Office will carry out their own assessment processes to inform their separate decisions on whether any proposed substantial change to the existing environmental-assessment certificate should be approved, including those required to transition Red Chris from open-pit to underground block cave mining. These amendments cannot proceed without Tahltan consent.
The agreement on the review process for substantial changes to Red Chris was reached under Section 7 of the Declaration Act, which provides a mechanism in law to reflect co-operation between two governments and how First Nations jurisdictions and decisions can interact with provincial decision-making.
The Tahltan Central Government and B.C. announced the start of negotiations for the consent agreement on the Red Chris mine assessment process on June 15, 2021, along with a list of stakeholders who were engaged throughout negotiations.
The Tahltan Nation’s Territory spans 95,933 square kilometres of northwest B.C.