Tahltan People Continue to Emphasize Importance of Protecting Sacred Headwaters from Mining Developments in Northern BC
During this week Fortune Minerals Limited, a mining company that is publically traded on the TSX, has been holding Open Houses concerning its Arctos Anthracite mine project. The proposed project is located in Tahltan Territory in an area known as the Klappan sacred headwaters, and is currently in the Province's environmental assessment process. The Klappan area is located in and around the pristine confluence of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers.
"The Tahltan Nation wants to protect our Tahltan Title and Rights by balancing the benefits that arise from resource development with protection of our sacred lands and waters", said Annita McPhee, President of the Tahltan Central Council. "We want to make it clear that the Klappan area is one of the most sacred and important areas for the Tahltan people. It is a place of tremendous cultural, spiritual, and social importance. It is not an area that the Tahltan people have expressed interest to see developed," she stated.
In recent years the Crown and industry have increasingly set their sights on Tahltan Territory as being at the epicentre of future economic development in the Province, and in particular the future of the mining industry. The Tahltan people have endorsed some projects, most recently examples being the Forest Kerr, Volcano, and McLymont run-of-river power projects. "We are open to exploring all kinds of economic development - and our track record shows that. At the same time, there are values, interests, and places that must be preserved", said Ms. McPhee. "I know Fortune Minerals is well aware of the deep importance of the Klappan - but it is important to remind all actors who might wish to use this area of what has been expressed by the Tahltan people." In 2005 a Tahltan Elders and members protested exploration in the Klappan, which resulted in a number of arrests and court proceedings. Over the years, the Tahltan people have at various times pursued and implemented moratoriums on development throughout the Klappan.