As a member of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, I wish to declare that I support the principle of responsible development within our traditional territory. Recent statistics for the region of Atlin indicate there is an unemployment rate of 35 percent during the summer months and 80 percent during the winter months.
Primary wage earners are forced away because there is no sustainable employment within the Atlin region for TRTFN members. As an aboriginal culture, we recognize the prime value of keeping families together. Many studies prove an increase in social problems when family units are separated for economic reasons. As a community, the TRTFN has been experiencing many of these problems.
I am encouraged about and supportive of the Tulsequah Chief mining project, including the infrastructure needed to get the project into production. I view this development as a major factor in addressing Atlin's double digit unemployment and social issues.
Further to my support is the mandate passed at the last Joint Clan Meeting on Nov. 28 in Atlin, British Columbia, which states: "That a multi-pronged integrated and comprehensive strategy be implemented including, industry discussions with Redfern regarding accommodation including economic opportunities and benefits for Tlingit citizens."
The membership as a whole have provided our leadership with a direct and clear mandate to address our unemployment and social needs. I urge our leadership to begin the process of negotiation with industry, specifically Redfern Resources Ltd.
The Taku River Tlingit people come from a culture which has been praised for our trading history. As a people we have been able to benefit from opportunities in which we have taken a direct interest. Our support for the Tulsequah Chief project is another extension of our traditional trading culture, one I see as being very good for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation as a whole.
Gordon Loverin (Yanna Tan)
North Vancouver, British Columbia