TNDC was established in 1985 to enable the Tahltan Nation to fully participate in the economic activities and development occurring within the Tahltan Territory and to provide employment, training, and contracting opportunities to Tahltan members. Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) is the business arm of the Tahltan Nation. We pursue sustainable and responsible business and economic development opportunities in the region that lead to employment, training, and business opportunities for Tahltan members.

We provide heavy construction, earthworks, camp services, air support, aviation, energy, forestry, transportation, and fibre optic communications services. TNDC serves the resource exploration, mine development and operations, building construction, forestry, hydroelectric power, civil, infrastructure, and the public works sectors. TNDC is also the contract airport at the Dease Lake Airport, responsible for inspections.

Today, TNDC is one of the largest employers in Northwest British Columbia and in the top 5% of all British Columbia-based companies. In 2021, TNDC was rated as the largest First Nation business in B.C., ranked by the total number of employees, in Business in Vancouver’s annual listing.

TNDC is currently concentrating on developing telecommunications. This goal will create value at the community level. Right now some families spend over $1000 trying to connect independently. We also aim to enhance education and trade opportunities for Tahltan members. Our long-term goals look more like diversification to bring in private equity oversight and sustainable business interests.

Managing finances and risks is at the core of our business approach. We want to build a resilient business structure that can stand the test of time. We also recognize the significance of good leadership in this endeavor and believe it is important to focus on the principles of building a healthy culture and community. We want our business structure to be one in which people can invest in themselves and thrive.

After 10 years of being directly involved in the growth of the Indigenous economy, we have noticed an increase in interest. Environmental and social governance is becoming more important. Big business is realizing it has to engage. There is a push at multiple levels for indigenous engagement, collaboration, and approaches to business. We are glad to also be seeing Indigenous communities investing in land development and retaking control of the resources in their territory.

We consider the primary challenges in Indigenous economic reconciliation to be education, a skilled Indigenous workforce, and access to capital. Getting people to understand that reconciliation is a journey, not a destination, has been a hurdle. Canadians are responsible for understanding the hurdles and barriers and breaking them down. Indigenous talent is few and far between, this has made recruitment a huge challenge right now. We believe there is also a lack of communication and education regarding what Indigenous business and economy look like. Access to capital has been compromised for Indigenous businesses due to negative connotations. Rising waters lift all boats. Uplifting groups facing barriers is good for the whole as it enhances diversity, creates more options, and opportunities, and enhances capacity overall.

We have recognized success in our ability to create a strong financially viable corporation. We have been in business for 30 years. We also celebrate our ability to create change. We have been an equity participant in the development of hydropower in the region and we have the smallest environmental footprint in mining. In the future, we would like to see the development of internal leadership.

As we look to the future, we consider that we need leaders to be confident in taking chances and being vulnerable as a way to empower others. A good leader supports the team by encouraging risk-taking and learning from failure. Our leaders need to be brave in sharing knowledge and expertise to raise the next generation. Building capacity and planning succession are essential to our success.

In order to support the growth of the Indigenous economy, we need to bring knowledge back to the community by investing in our youth. We need young people to get involved in indigenous business spaces. Many youth are pursuing a variety of valuable knowledge but we need more in business education in order to meet the growing demand for skilled Indigenous talent. The growth of the Indigenous requires us to invest in our youth. This is Indigenomics.