Cultural Heritage Program at Highland Valley Copper Operations

Forest with autumn foliage in the foreground, mountains and a body of water in the background.

Teck seeks to build trust-based relationships with communities and Indigenous Peoples focused on respecting rights and on creating lasting benefits in the regions where we operate.

The Highland Valley region of British Columbia, home to Teck’s Highland Valley Copper (HVC) operations, has been inhabited for thousands of years and has an expansive archaeological record to demonstrate Indigenous use of the valley including hunting, settlements, and trading. Exploration of the archaeological record at HVC began in the early 1980s, and a community-led Cultural Heritage Program was established in 2016. Over time the program has become more inclusive and moved beyond archaeology towards a goal of holistic heritage assessment including tangible heritage that predates 1846 and is regulated under British Columbia’s Heritage Conservation Act and aspects of heritage, both tangible and intangible, that postdate 1846. This shift in priorities and methods has been driven in large part through collaboration with HVC’s community partners.

The heritage program includes above-ground searches for evidence of cultural use, such as artifacts and culturally modified trees, identification of areas with high archaeological potential, and below-ground testing to uncover cultural material evidence such as artifacts, food caches, or hearths. All cultural heritage assessments are conducted collaboratively under the direction of a professional archaeologist and community participants in order to incorporate traditional knowledge into a scientific methodology. 

There are currently over 70 field technicians, monitors, and field directors participating in the Cultural Heritage Program with a wide array of diverse backgrounds who share a collective goal to preserve and protect the history of the Highland Valley. The development of the Program seeks to amplify Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 92(1) to the corporate sector to “commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, informed consent of Indigenous Peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.” By actively engaging and collaborating with Indigenous peoples, Highland Valley Copper and Teck can better integrate community engagement into the project planning stages of project development. This has benefits for communities, the heritage itself, and HVC; by respecting cultural heritage and Indigenous knowledge and incorporating this into traditional methods of archaeology, HVC is enhancing trust-based relationships, reducing site impacts as a result of construction activities, and operating responsibly. 

Read more about our approach to Communities and Indigenous Peoples on our website.   


First published on March 01, 2024