Working with the Tahltan on Community COVID-19 Initiatives

February 11, 2021

In response to the scope and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, organizations and individuals have worked in collaboration with communities to provide meaningful targeted assistance to those in need. As an international mining company, Teck is committed to playing a role in the global mobilization to beat COVID-19. One example is the Galore Creek project. Teck and Newmont Corporation (Newmont) are working together through the Galore Creek Mining Corporation (GCMC) to advance the project, which is located in Tahltan Territory in a remote mountainous region of northwestern British Columbia. As part of that work, Teck and Newmont are jointly contributing to the GCMC‘s COVID-19 pandemic response initiative in Tahltan Territory. 

From the outset of the pandemic, Tahltan Leadership has worked to keep their communities safe from COVID-19, which has included discouraging travel into the Territory or between communities to minimize risk of transmission. In particular, Tahltan Leadership expressed concern about the risk of COVID-19 transmission from Tahltan members living outside the Territory traveling into the Telegraph Creek area to participate in traditional summer fishing activities.

The TĀŁTĀN ŁUWE1 initiative was established to support Tahltan Leadership’s efforts to keep Tahltan communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Tahltan Central Government (TCG) support, GCMC worked closely with the Tahltan Band, Tahltan Health, and Tahltan Fisheries to make the TĀŁTĀN ŁUWE initiative a reality. Through this initiative, a dedicated Tahltan team along with volunteers were mobilized to fish for salmon on the Stikine River and then process, preserve and distribute the salmon to Tahltan members residing outside of the area.

The team developed and diligently implemented a COVID-19 Safety Plan, including taking regular temperature checks of all participants, practicing physical distancing, and using masks when physical distancing was not possible. Experienced Tahltan members led all activities including fishing, cleaning, and processing, with a strong emphasis on conducting all activities safely. The involvement of Tahltan-owned businesses also contributed to local economic resilience during the pandemic.

A total of 16 Tahltan members were employed between mid-July and mid-August 2020 with many other Tahltan, including Elders with unique fishing knowledge and experience, who volunteered their time to the initiative. One of the many successes of the initiative was mentorship of Tahltan youth in fishing and fish preservation techniques by those more familiar with these activities. 
The initiative succeeded in delivering canned and frozen fish to 250 Tahltan families residing in the communities of Dease Lake, Iskut, Telegraph Creek, Good Hope Lake, Lower Post, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, Fort Nelson, Fort St John, Smithers, Terrace and Prince George.

Galore Creek’s financial support also contributed to equipment and infrastructure improvements at the Glenora Tahltan fish camp. This included new gutting tables, pumps, generators, freezers, vacuum sealers and pressure canners that were donated to the Tahltan Band at the end of the program for use in future traditional fishing programs.

“We are truly appreciative for the efforts that GCMC, Teck and Newmont are taking to support the Tahltan governments, communities and people during this challenging time,” said Chad Norman Day, President, TCG. 

Tahltan Leadership remains active in working to reduce the number of people travelling within and to Tahltan Territory, and the TĀŁTĀN ŁUWE initiative was successful in supporting this effort. 
Learn more about our approach to Relationships with Communities and Indigenous Peoples on our website.

1. TĀŁTĀN ŁUWE translation: TĀŁTĀN = Tahltan and ŁUWE = fish

First Published on February 11, 2021