Many First Nations groups are involved in Canadian mining developments, but few can claim to have their own mining division. That’s exactly the ambition of the Tlicho, a self-governed First Nation with a sprawling land base in south central Northwest Territories.
As part of a ratified treaty with the Canadian government signed in 2005, the Tlicho gained subsurface rights to 39,000 square kilometres of land with known deposits of gold, cobalt, diamonds and other minerals.
For years the four communities within the Tlicho have been involved in the territory’s diamond mining industry, and today there are several First Nations-owned mining service companies within Tlicho Investment Corp., its local holding company.
The modern-day treaty could allow the Tlicho to go beyond simply offering mining services. The group is now considering early-stage geological tests on its prospective lands and, eventually, exploring the possibility of developing the mines themselves.
“We’re just taking one step further toward controlling our own resources,” says Jasper Lamouelle, the president of Tlicho Investment.It is a notion that is gaining popularity among First Nations. After a series of recent legal decisions that have gradually bolstered the rights of Canadian aboriginals, many are now looking at ways to invest real equity into resource developments taking place on their traditional lands.
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