To learn more about the Trust, the Foundation and its history, this page compiles historical documents, past presentations, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).


What is the purpose of the Tahltan Heritage Trust?
The purpose of the Trust is to:

  • Earn income to assist the Tahltan Nation in achieving long-term financial independence and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Ensure a financial legacy is established from the extraction of finite natural resources and other sources of revenue from Tahltan Territory.
  • Provide for professional management and investment of trust property.

Why was the Trust created?

  • Reduce our dependence on resource development income.
  • Reduce Tahltan Governments’ reliance on external funding.
  • Achieve financial independence and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Have the means to shape our own future.

Who appointed the current Trustees?
Two of the current Trustees were appointed by the former Tahltan Central Council (now Tahltan Central Government) board in 2007, when the Tahltan Heritage Trust was first created. The Trustees were involved in negotiating the Novagold Participation Agreement. The third Trustee was recently jointly appointed by all three Tahltan leaders.

What qualifications are needed to be a Trustee?

  • Willingness to adhere to a Trustee Code of Conduct.
  • Record of honesty, integrity and a commitment to the Tahltan Nation and its people.
  • Evidence of leadership, including collaborative leadership experience.
  • Previous Director or fiduciary experience.
  • Knowledge and understanding of business, financial and legal issues.
  • Willingness to regularly attend trustee meetings and community meetings, as required.
  • Professional and educational achievement.
  • Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.

Why is a new Trust being created?
A new Trust Agreement is being created to better serve the goals of the Tahltan Heritage Trust. Through 14 years of Tahltan Heritage Trust operations, we have learned many lessons about what serves the Trust purposes and what doesn’t. As the Trust Agreement sets out the “rules” of the Trust, the Agreement itself must be changed to implement the lessons learned.

How will the new Trust be different from the old Trust?
Key changes include:

  • Changed distribution mandate
  • Improved trust operations
  • Revised purpose
  • Revised trustee model

The new Trust will continue to separate the “investment and growth of the fund” aspects from the “giving” aspects. The Trustees will continue focussing on managing the Trust portfolio (making money) and the Tahltan Community Foundation will focus on distributions (spending). Under the new Trust, certain decision-making functions require approval from all three Tahltan Governments (Iskut Band, Tahltan Band and Tahltan Central Government), including:

  • Appointment of additional trustees
  • Appointment/replacement of trustees
  • Major amendments to the Trust Agreement

As well, under the existing trust, a corporate trustee was used whose board of directors included the current Trustees. Under the new Trust, the corporate trustee will be replaced with 3-5 individual trustees (to be appointed jointly by the three Tahltan Governments).

What is the status of the new Trust?

A presentation to introduce the new Trust was given to the Tahltan Governments in fall 2021. Because of their role in appointing trustees, the Tahltan Governments will need to approve transition from the current Trust to the new Trust. The Trustees are also exploring engagement outreach sessions for Tahltan membership to introduce the new Trust in advance of the 2022 Tahltan AGA.


What are the current sources of income?
Current income includes interest and investment income. Interest is earned on money from agreements the Tahltan Nation has signed with industry over the years. These include the Novagold Participation Agreement, AltaGas, BC Hydro, Red Chris, Silvertip, Brucejack and Seabridge. Income also includes earnings from the Trust’s investments in the Northwest Power Projects.

Are all funds provided to the Tahltan Nation from resource development put into the Trust?
There are two general income streams the Tahltan Nation receives from resource development in Tahltan Territory.

  • The Trust receives all funds from industry through various agreements.
  • Tahltan Governments receive a share of resource revenue taxation from the province which they share amongst themselves to address their priorities.

Can a member apply for a grant from the Trust?
The Tahltan Heritage Trust doesn’t provide grants directly. All grants are currently distributed through  the education program that is being administered by the Tahltan Central Government.  Additional programs and services are expected once the Tahltan Community Foundation is established.

Why can’t Tahltan members access funds directly from the Trust?
The Trust was not built for and is not responsible for delivering community programming. Only Beneficiaries of the Tahltan Heritage Trust can access funds and individual Tahltan members are not Beneficiaries. The Beneficiaries of the current Tahltan Heritage Trust are the Iskut Band, Tahltan Band, Tahltan Central Government, corporations controlled by the Tahltan Central Government or registered charities. Future Beneficiaries will also include the Tahltan Community Foundation.

How are distribution amounts determined?
The approved formula for Funds Available for Distribution (FAD) in any given year is:

Income earned in previous year* – Minus expenses in previous year– Minus Inflation Index (2% of trust fund)(*Income earned from various sources, including interest and returns on investment.)

How does the Trust distribute money?
All distributions are currently made by resolution of the membership at annual general meetings for initiatives that support programming delivered by one of the Beneficiaries. In future, distributions will be made through the Tahltan Community Foundation based on plans prepared with the community.

How much money has been distributed?
There were limited distributions during the first 11 years because the Trust fund was small and earned very little income, as well as to help foster growth of the Trust fund. The first distribution of $100,000 was made in 2016 to establish a Tahltan Education Fund (to be managed by the Tahltan Central Government) for Tahltan members to access. Subsequent distributions were made of $100,000 in 2017, $100,000 in 2018 and $200,000 in 2019 to the Tahltan Education Fund. This priority and distribution method was approved by the Tahltan membership through resolutions at annual general assemblies. In fall 2021, Trustees confirmed additional distribution amounts of $200,000 for 2020 and $310,000 for 2021 for the Tahltan Education Fund. Future distributions are expected be delivered through the Tahltan Community Foundation towards priorities identified by membership through a community-based planning process (once leadership provides direction to finalize its creation).

What is the Coast Mountain Hydro Investment?
In July 2019, funds from the Trust were used to purchase 5% (from Axium and Manulife) of the Coast Mountain Hydro Projects (formerly Northwest British Columbia Hydro Electric Facilities, which comprise the Forrest Kerr, McLymont Creek and Volcano Creek run-of-river projects), on behalf of the Tahltan Nation. These investments produce income for distribution but do not create any liability for the Trust in the unlikely event the projects incur a loss. This built on a previous $2 million investment the Trust had made in Volcano Creek, where the Trust invested $500,000 of its own money which was supplemented with a grant of $1.5 million from the Province of British Columbia’s Green Energy Program.


What is the Community Foundation?
The Tahltan Community Foundation is a separate organization that will be responsible for working with the Tahltan community to identify priorities for improving the Tahltan community’s well-being and for delivering programs and services to address those priorities. It will be supported by funds distributed from the Tahltan Heritage Trust and provided from other sources (e.g., donations from companies, governments or other sources).  The Tahltan Community Foundation will most likely deliver most of its programs and services through service delivery arrangements with other organizations, similar to what is happening with the Tahltan Central Government and the Tahltan Education Fund.

What is the status of the Foundation?
The structure of the Community Foundation is currently being established. During community engagement sessions, Tahltan members have provided input into the shape and scope of what a Tahltan Community Foundation should look like. They prefer a model that operates independently from Tahltan governments. The final model must be shown to be acceptable to Tahltan members. An initial board of directors will need to be appointed by Tahltan Leadership. The initial Foundation board will then work with Tahltan membership and governments to finalize the structure, determine how to fill the remaining board positions, develop a strategic plan and establish interim programs and delivery partners.  The ongoing Foundation board will be responsible for ongoing engagement with Tahltan membership to develop and implement strategies to improve the Tahltan community’s well-being, and for updating the structure of the Foundation when required.

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Land photos on the site courtesy of Kathy Merkel