Mineral exploration company Doubleview Gold Corp. entered into a communications agreement with the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) in July after a longstanding dispute.
In a July 14 statement, the Vancouver-based company’s lead director Andrew H.Rees apologized for the company’s previous relationship with TCG and announced that they signed a Communications and Engagement Agreement on July 9, which also recognized the Aboriginal title and rights of the Tahltan over their territory, among other terms.
However entering into a communications agreement does not mean that the First Nation has given consent to Doubleview’s projects on Tahltan territory yet.
The move comes after TCG – the Tahltan First Nation’s political arm – earlier in April, publicly opposed Doubleview’s mineral exploration project (Hat project) in culturally sensitive areas which includes archaeological and burial sites in the Sheslay Valley.
TCG had accused Doubleview of failing to act in a manner consistent with Tahltan protocols for the mining sector and with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which B.C. passed as a legislation in 2019 (DRIPA). The First Nation had also called on the province to stop issuing permits to Doubleview for its Hat project.
Tahltan’s opposition goes back to 2015 following which the company sought legal injunctions, albeit unsuccessfully, against TCG leadership accusing them of interfering with drilling operations.
Doubleview held provincial permits for 10 mineral tenures covering 63 square kilometres in northwest B.C. at the time.
While the Tahltan hold communication agreements with more than two dozen mining companies working on their territory, Doubleview had initially refused to sign. It was only in April 2021 that the company sent a written response to the TCG about the communication and engagement agreement, according to Rees.
As part of the agreement with TCG, Doubleview also apologized for the “negative impacts” of the injunction that it sought against TCG leadership back in 2016.
“We profoundly regret that the previous engagement with the TCG concerning the proposed economic activities of Doubleview within Tahltan territory has been marked by conflict and disagreement that has created significant barriers to the development of a respectful and collaborative relationship,” said Rees, adding that the company will commit to undertake culturally appropriate engagement with Tahltan elders in the future.
Following Doubleview’s statement, TCG leadership said that after a series of further discussions, the TCG and Doubleview came to an understanding on the steps that the mining company could take to begin to make amends for its past conduct and begin to engage the Tahltan Nation in a more respectful way.
According to a TCG statement issued on its official social media, the agreement does not necessarily mean the Tahltan Nation will support Doubleview’s current work in Tahltan territory or future project development, but it will give the company an opportunity to learn more about the nation and engage with the TCG and members.
The statement also said that the agreement will help the TCG better understand the impacts of the company’s exploration activities in the area.
“While Doubleview’s past approach to engagement with the Tahltan Nation is regretful, the company has acknowledged and apologized for those wrongs and has taken meaningful steps towards improving its relationship with the Tahltan Nation,” said the TCG in the statement.
“The TCG is optimistic that those efforts will continue but stands ready to defend the Tahltan Nation’s interests if needed,” it said.
The Tahltan Nation also said that it is not opposed to mineral exploration within its territory provided it is done in a manner that is consistent with Tahltan values and respects the Tahltan Nation’s authority.
-With files from The Canadian Press
Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Terrace Standard