For the first time, the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) hosted a special assembly in Terrace from Nov. 22 to 25 for all members living outside the traditional territory.
The special assembly brought together members from across the province, the Yukon, and as far away as Alberta to the local Best Western Inn, where TCG department heads gave updates on current and upcoming projects.
The assembly was also live-streamed for members not in attendance to listen in, a practice TCG President Chad Norman Day says he wants to continue doing in the future.
“The primary motivation was all about inclusion because we don’t have the technological infrastructure back home to live-stream these meetings,” Day says.
Eighty-five per cent of the 5,000 Tahltan members live outside the traditional territory, Day says, and the government wanted to start hosting some meetings in other areas to include more people. He estimates the largest concentration of Tahltan members living outside the traditional territory, around 400 people, are in Terrace.
“It’s not just about business, it’s about getting together,” Day says. “Truthfully, we could just live-stream this on the internet in a room with all of our staff but by doing it this way, it gives Tahltans an opportunity to connect with each other.”
One of the biggest items discussed was how to create a process to start spending the interest funds coming out of the Tahltan Heritage Trust, Day says. Money for the trust fund has been gathered from all the economic development in the Tahltan territory over the last 15 years.
“Now that it’s around $40 million, we believe it’s high enough that we can start spending the interest from year to year, never the principal, but the interest,” Day says.
It’s been a significant year for the Tahltan Nation. In July, the nation purchased a five per cent stake in three run-of-the-river projects in Northwest B.C., marking the largest clean energy investment in B.C. history by a First Nation.
Then in August, the federal government approved up to nearly $4 million to help the TCG enact stewardship and land-use planning under its Protected and Conserved Areas project.
That same month, the Tahltan Nation also signed a “milestone” land-use plan with the provincial government aimed at preserving the Klappan Valley’s cultural and environmental assets, and guiding future resource development.
With a large population of Tahltan members living in Terrace, and the city’s close proximity to members living in Prince Rupert and Smithers, Day says staff will now take what they’ve learned from this first installment to host more meetings in the future.
“To be good leaders, you need to adapt and evolve, and have these conversations all the time. We went out on a limb to bring this here,” Day says. “From a title and rights standpoint, it’s important that we include everyone’s opinion, and give more Tahltans the ability to engage and be consulted by the TCG.”
The province is also working to install fibre-optic infrastructure to the communities of Iskut and Dease Lake, Day says, opening up more opportunities to live-stream events in the future.
“Once those are there, we will always live-stream our meetings in those communities. But because we don’t have the technological infrastructure now, coming here is a happy medium.”
— with files from Quinn Bender