Our relationships in British Columbia
At Rio Tinto we are committed to developing strong and lasting relationships with the communities, stakeholders and First Nations in our operating area. These relationships are based on respect, a desire to learn and ensure mutual benefit.
Our relationships with local and regional communities are a key part of our projects and operations. We recognise and respect the cultures, lifestyles and heritage of our neighbours.
We respect the diversity of indigenous peoples and acknowledge their unique and important interests in lands, waters and environment as well as their history and traditions.
We work with communities in creating mutually beneficial agreements; we share and explore our plans with them in a format and language they understand.
We encourage local communities to participate in the economic activity our operations create. We support regional and community based projects that contribute to sustainable and independent development.
Rio Tinto is guided by The way we work, Rio Tinto’s global policy framework for business practice. We are also guided by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Indigenous Peoples and Mining Position Statement.
Relationships with Indigenous people
Long before Rio Tinto arrived in Northern BC, the area was home to many Indigenous Peoples. This includes the Haisla Nation, whose main community today is Kitamaat Village, located across from the Kitimat smelter. The traditional territory of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, Nee Tahi Buhn, and Skin Tyee are also within our operating area, in the Nechako Watershed region. These are important relationships to Rio Tinto, and as such we have established Relationship Protocol Agreements that set out how we will work together.
As part of these relationships, there is a particular focus on identifying mutually advantageous economic and capacity-development initiatives.
In the case of the Haisla, Rio Tinto has also been able to identify opportunities to develop business relationships and partnerships on many different fronts, which has turned out to be an important base for further economic opportunities for their membership. We are particularly proud of the Haisla Legacy Agreement, signed in 2010, which establishes a collaborative working arrangement between Rio Tinto and the Haisla Nation for the next 30 years.
Areas of focus for our relationships in Canada and British Columbia
Education, skills and training: Rio Tinto has a significant partnership with the Indigenous-led education organization, Indspire. The Rio Tinto Award for Indigenous Students supports skills training to help Indigenous students of all ages. Rio Tinto actively works with Indigenous business and community leaders and with governments to build pathways for success through education, leveraging our combined resources, experience, and knowledge. Many of these commitments are formalized in local agreements. Enabling students and assisting with education is a key pillar of our Indigenous engagement.
Cultural education and preservation: We seek to raise awareness of traditional land use, knowledge and cultural practices of Indigenous people amongst Rio Tinto employees. We recognize and respect the significance of the cultural heritage of our host communities, and require that cultural heritage management systems are incorporated into all of our business activities and operations.
Economic development: We work with communities to create sustainable economic opportunities associated with our operations, such as direct employment, contracting, and supply and service agreements. We are proud that BC Works in Northern British Columbia are best in practice examples for local hiring and procurement. Where appropriate, we also support broader initiatives that support economic diversification.
Environmental stewardship: In all our work we adhere to the highest environmental standards and practices as set out in our global Health, Safety, Environment and Communities policy. For example, in British Columbia we have with local community members and organizations to contribute to the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative. We believe that management of environmental impacts of our operations is better informed with the inclusion of community and traditional ecological knowledge. In British Columbia we are committed to seeking traditional knowledge advice and recommendations for consideration in the design of our projects and operations and environmental monitoring.