In a remote mountainous region of northern British Columbia lie the Sacred Headwaters – the birthplace of three of BC’s most important salmon rivers, the Stikine, Skeena and Nass. This region supports one of the largest predator-prey ecosystems in North America and is the traditional territory of the Tahltan First Nation. Largely unprotected, proposed mining developments threaten the water, wildlife and culture of this land and its people. The nursing ground and year round habitat for a unique flock of Stone Sheep is particularly at risk from proposed open pit mining operations. A talk by Wade Davis at the University of British Colombia provides an in depth description, history, and compelling call for action. Having won a long and hard-fought battle to keep Shell from coalbed methane extraction in the Headwaters, the Tahltan are now fighting for safe and responsible mining on Todigan Mountain above the town of Iskut with a unique ecosystem of its own and a vulnerable resident species of Stone Sheep. On top of Todigan, Imperial Metals has begun open pit mining operations for copper and gold at its Red Chris Mine. This is the same company whose tailing pond breach caused the disaster at Polley Lake in 2014. To this point, Imperial Metals has not acted upon the recommendations made by the third-party review of its Red Chris tailing pond design. Recent government comments do not build confidence that action will be taken to improve safety and reduce risk.
At the root of the issue, this is land that has been the traditional territory of the Tahltan for tens of thousands of years, and which has never been ceded to Canada via a treaty. They have made this their home for tens of thousands of years and they depend on this land for their lives, their identity, their culture and for the future of their children and generations to come. The rest of Canada and the world also depends on the protection of the Sacred Headwaters. If we cannot make this good and obvious decision, then what is safe from high-risk development?
The Sacred Headwaters area gifts the rest of us with its many offerings: a landscape rich with wildlife and beauty to take your breath away Learn more through the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) website and others dedicated to the protection of the Sacred Headwaters, such as Klabona Keepers, Sacred Headwaters, Forest Ethics, The Sierra Club, and in Wade Davis' book, The Sacred Headwaters.
The History of this Project
To capture this remote, fragile and beautiful area, renowned photographer Paul Colangelo has spent six years exploring and capturing the people, wildlife and landscape of the area. He has enlarged 19 photographs of the Sacred Headwaters area for educational an show purposes. These have been on display to the public in a number of venues. A call to artists went out across Canada to interpret these images in their own style and medium. Their work, along with Paul's images can be seen in the Whistler Arts Council Gallery at Millennium Place, 4335 Blackcomb Way, Whistler BC until June 7. Weekend hours are restricted to Sunday from 4pm to 7pm.
Tahltan and other First Nations artists have also submitted their own work in support of protecting this important area. Many of their pieces are in Northwest Coast Traditional art form and reflect some aspect of the Tahltan relationship to the land and their ancestors and legends. All the artists are generously donating 20% of the sales from their work to support the Sacred Headwaters. Most of the work has been priced at below market value to encourage sales. We'd like to sell every last painting - a win for you, the artists, the Gallery and the Sacred Headwaters.
Images of the all the artwork in this show are found under Whistler Show Artwork. Purchases are made through the Gallery and can be shipped to you at your cost. Call 604-935-8410 for information or to arrange purchase and shipping.
Roy Henry Vickers