TORONTO, March 6, 2013 /CNW/ - The Tahltan Nation of northern B.C. will be honoured tonight in Toronto with a national "Top 10" environmental achievement award for the recent permanent protection of the "Sacred Headwaters" from natural gas development.
The Tides Canada award will be an emotional victory, because it comes at a time when new coal mining projects are also being proposed for the exact same region, and are stirring worries.
"Shell Oil may be gone from our traditional lands, but new coal mining proposals are a major concern too," says Annita McPhee, President of Tahltan Central Council.
Last December, Tahltan Central Council, Shell Canada, and the B.C. government announced the end to natural gas exploration in the Klappan region of northwest B.C. Shell voluntarily gave up its tenure for the area.
It marked the end of years of negotiations, and a difficult struggle that included protests, road blocks, and elders being arrested.
The next steps for the Sacred Headwaters, says McPhee, will be engaging constructively with the coal mining companies. She says she is guided by elders who say economic development must be done sustainably, without poisoning the sacred waterways that are home to wild salmon and moose.
"Our concern is, mining companies are proposing to build right in the headwaters. They want to put their tailing ponds right where our people have one of our hunting camps."
"We are not against economic development. We just believe the benefits should far outweigh the impacts."
Off limits, she says are certain ecologically and culturally sensitive zones in the Klappan. However, other areas within Tahltan traditional lands might see copper and gold mines flourish.
McPhee will receive the award tonight on behalf of the Tahltan Nation at the Arta Gallery in Toronto.
The Tides Canada award for the Sacred Headwaters will be shared with Shell Canada, Forest Ethics, Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, and the B.C. government.
The "Tides Top 10" award is a recognition of the country's most innovative projects in 2012 addressing environmental and social challenges.
"Creating outcomes that work for both people and our planet is tough work" said Ross McMillan, President and CEO of Tides Canada.
"But each and every one of the Tides Top 10 is doing just that - they are building the cutting-edge solutions that Canada needs now and for a resilient future."
- Talhtan Central Council represents the Tahltan band and Iskut First Nation on resources issues
- Tahltan Nation is comprised of 5,000 members
- "Sacred Headwaters" was a name given to The Klappan region by a consortium of First Nations and environmental groups
- The Klappan is a valley basin with three wild salmon rivers: the Skeena River, Stikine River, and Nass River
BC Government Press Release - "Agreement brings resolution to gas tenure in Northwest" - Dec.18, 2012
TCC Release -- "Tahltan Nation Celebrates Shell Giving Up Klappan Coal Bed Methane Tenure in the Sacred Headwaters" - Sept. 21, 2012
TCC Release -- "Tahltan Nation Celebrates Shell Giving Up Klappan Coal Bed Methane Tenure in the Sacred Headwaters" -- Dec.18, 2012
SOURCE: Tahltan Central Council
For further information:
Annita McPhee, President, Tahltan Central Council
cell: (604) 754-9974
Annita will be available for in-person or phone interviews in Toronto, March 6-7