Tahltan Nation, B.C. government sign agreement for shared decision-making

A still image from 'Koneline: our land beautiful' is shown in this handout photo. A film documenting the Tahltan First Nation in remote northwestern British Columbia took home one of the top honours at the HotDocs Awards on Friday night. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / HO)

The Tahltan Nation and the British Columbia government have struck what officials say is a historic agreement for shared decision-making for the nation's territory in northwestern B.C., a hot spot for mineral exploration.

Murray Rankin, the Indigenous relations and reconciliation minister, says the agreement represents a significant step forward in building a government-to-government relationship and supporting the Tahltan in regaining its sovereignty.

Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government, says the deal shows they are “getting closer and closer to a true nation-to-nation relationship.”

The province is providing $20 million to support the implementation of the agreement, which commits B.C. and the nation to developing a land-use plan and to testing new permitting processes for mineral exploration and placer mining.

It also commits accelerating negotiations for an “economic-oriented” reconciliation agreement and to seek federal participation in those discussions.

Day told a news conference that Tahltan territory encompasses 11 per cent of B.C.'s land base and the new agreement will help ensure certain sensitive areas aren't open for development, while providing greater certainty for industry.

“We have a lot of claims around some of our communities, some of our burial sites, and I think that we've been grappling with those for years because we didn't have the relationship and the structure that we're going to have through the (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act) and through agreements like this.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2021.