Head of the giant snake going to Cheslatta Carrier Nation

Drill head being given by Rio Tinto after 30 months of work


The head from a tunnel boring machine used by Rio Tinto for the Kemano T2 project, is being delivered to Cheslatta Carrier Nation (CCN), as per the request of their Chief Corrina Leween.

At the beginning of the project, Cheslatta Carrier Nation named the drill tl’ughus [or ‘The Giant Snake’] after a legendary giant monster snake, and it was decorated with artwork by Haisla Nation students.

“A few days ago, tl’ughus finished his journey when he poked his head out of Chief Louie’s mountain at Tahtsa Lake and spat out his last gobble of rock,” Chief Corrina said in a letter to Rio Tinto.

“Tl’ughus is a fearsome subject in Cheslatta’s history, and many plans to slay tl’ughus were carried out to no avail. Chief Albert George and Chief Abel Peters always said that we had to slay tl’ughus and put its head upon our shore, build a fire, then dance and drum and celebrate.”

“In October of 2021, we acknowledge that our tl’ughus today has brought us benefit instead of terror. This time, tl’ughus has linked us to our Haisla cousins and uncles. tl’ughus hired our young people to help him. Instead of fearing him, we now possess fond memories of our today’s tl’ughus, however, we still must honor our traditional beliefs and acknowledge the job he has done.”

“Therefor, I hereby authorize Rio Tinto to instruct their contractors to separate the head from our tl’ughus and deliver it to the shore of Cheslatta territory. Our people will await its arrival and will light a fire, dance and drum,” Leween eloquently said in the letter.

Lakes District News spoke to Kemano T2 Project Manager Alex Jones, who said that tl’ughus had been in use for 30 months, from March 2019 to October 2021.

“The tunnel boring machine was selected by Rio Tinto as the safest and most efficient solution to complete a second tunnel between Tahtsa Lake and the Kemano Powerhouse, which provides a stable supply of electricity to the B.C. Works Aluminium Smelter in Kitimat,” said Jones.

“Tl’ughus was used to cut through 7.6 kilometres of rock under Mount Dubose to link the existing 8.4-kilometre portion of the second tunnel that remained from the first phase of the project in the mid-1990s with the Tahtsa Lake water intake.”

According to Jones, Rio Tinto is in full support of the ceremonial beheading of tl’ughus.

“We are very pleased to collaborate on this ceremony with the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and other local First Nations, as we have done throughout this major project. This is a great way to put an end to tl’ughus’ journey, while recognizing the significant role our Indigenous partners have played in this achievement.”

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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