Mining for Change: Tahltan Socio-Cultural Working Group

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The International Institute for Child Rights and Development is supporting the Tahltan’s Socio-Cultural Working Group (SCWG) to evaluate the changes of its work.

The SCWG, an initiative of the Tahltan Central Government, is trying to help:

  • Prepare Tahltans to participate in and benefit from industry projects (e.g. mines) in the territory - located in northern British Columbia, Canada
  • Protect and preserve Tahltan communities, culture and identify from the potential negative effects of rapid development

“Our role is to help tell the story, show the impacts, influence and value of the SCWG activities,” highlights evaluation lead Michele Cook.

In addition to reviewing documents and gathering statistics, IICRD is seeking to gather insights from multiple perspectives such as: staff, Elders, Chiefs, school teachers, youth, social workers, health practitioners, RCMP, and the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

Key focus areas of the evaluation include:

  • Organizational development and growth
  • Changes in relation to the five focus sectors (language and culture, health, education, community and family development, and employment and training)
  • Critical drivers of transformation
  • Government to government agreements – milestones/outcomes reached, unintended results/learning
  • Influence on Nation building, Unity and Governance
  • Value of investments and ability to leverage funds

“Young people offer a unique and valuable perspectives,” notes evaluator Elaina Mack. “Mining developments, for example, can change family dynamics with one parent travelling to off-site camps for half a month. This can both positively and negatively influence a child’s well-being.”

To learn more about changes at home, schools and their community, IICRD is coordinating with Grade 6-8 students and teachers in the three Tahltan communities (Telegraph Creek, Iskut and Dease Lake). This includes land-based forest conversations where evaluators worked alongside students to chop wood for an off-site school trip to engaging students to develop a virtual comic strip where they can to tell their story in their own words.

Community members will also be involved in helping to interpet and deepen the data analysis. Evaluation team members, Philip Cook and Michele Cook, will join Tahltan members at the Annual General Assembly and for the annual fish camp. At the fish camp, youth, families and elders return to the territory to reconnect and deepen their learning of traditional Tahltan practices and values for their use of salmon in sustaining their well being - both physically and spiritually.

Learn more about this evaluation project. The full report will be submitted to the Tahltan Socio-Cultural Working Group in fall 2017.


"We’ve come through the biggest development in our history virtually unscathed culturally and socially.” –  SCWG Evaluation - Interview respondent


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PO Box 35039 Hillside Victoria, British Columbia Canada V8T 5G2