Sacred Headwaters

In Northern British Columbia there is a pristine land traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples, which is being threatened by economic progress and resource extraction. For rider and activist Tamo Campos, a visit a couple years back turned into a two-years-and-counting residency. Sliding hill in BC’s Sacred Headwaters.

Words: David MacKinnon.

It’s late March, and the ice over Eyāluwe Lake is vocal; the wilds of the Sacred Headwaters will soon begin to thaw. The days of subdued colours, of tracking moose by following their prints on the snow, will be gone soon. Flowers will emerge, grizzlies will wake, and Tamo Campos will put away his splitboard. For him and the activist community in Iskut, BC, the changing seasons will mean unease. The last two summers brought conflict between mining companies and those who oppose their plans for coal, copper, and gold extraction in the area. Both years tensions peaked with blockades and land occupations organized by a group called the Klabona Keepers. Both years, Tamo was here, working tirelessly to help their efforts.

I’m a visitor at Skyfish Cabin, a backcountry abode about eight miles from Highway 37. It’s inside the Sacred Headwaters, or as it’s traditionally called, the Tl’abane (pronounced Klabona). The Tl’abane is home to the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine—three of BC’s largest salmon-bearing rivers. The whole ecosystem of these massive waterways along with the fish they provide have formed the backbone of a traditional way of life for local First Nations communities for thousands of years.

My connection to the Tl’abane is corollary to my friendship with Tamo, but is growing steadily stronger. With me are Tamo, Desiree Wallace, Hannah Campbell, Lewis Muirhead, and Micky Nagai. Tamo, Des and Hannah are here volunteering with youth in Iskut as part of a program they’ve spearheaded in conjunction with the village’s parents and grandparents. Lewis, Micky and I are here to see old friends, to learn about their work here, and to snowboard with Tamo…

Subscribe to start your collection of frequency TSJ.


The Snowboarder's Journal mailing list

We respect your time, and only send you the occasional update.