Northern B.C. miner’s orange ribbon initiative spurs residential school awareness at Red Chris mine site

Chico Bob, also known as Spotted Rock, wears the orange ribbon he made out of the fabric from overalls. (Submitted photo)Chico Bob, also known as Spotted Rock, wears the orange ribbon he made out of the fabric from overalls. (Submitted photo)
Workers from Newcrest Red Chris JV mine sport the ribbon on their hardhats. ( Submitted Photo)Workers from Newcrest Red Chris JV mine sport the ribbon on their hardhats. ( Submitted Photo)

A Tahltan First Nation man’s quest to raise awareness about the residential school findings is gaining momentum in a remote northwestern mining community – thanks to orange ribbons placed around the Red Chris mine and camp site.

Chico Bob, who also goes by his given name Spotted Rock, has worked on rotation at the Red Chris mine for over four years. The Red Chris gold and copper mine, operated by Australian mining company Newcrest, is located approximately 80km south of Dease Lake in northwest B.C. on Tahltan territory.

After Bob heard about the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Kamloops and other places in B.C. and Canada, he was restless and wanted to do something.

One night he had trouble sleeping as he was thinking about what he could do to raise awareness at site about the residential school findings. He got up early that morning and grabbed orange coveralls and decided to cut them into small ribbons of fabric and place the orange fabric around the mine site and camp.

“Strength, unity, togetherness, it’s bringing everyone together. I wanted people to understand and to acknowledge what happened,” Bob said.

He started by placing it on posters and handrails and was actually worried it might make people uncomfortable. However, Red Chris employees had a powerful reaction to seeing the orange ribbons all around camp and it helped spur conversations about the findings and raise awareness.

Employees also felt that it created a space to talk about the history of residential schools.

Bob then decided to start appending the orange ribbons to hard hats. He handed the ribbons out to all of his crew that he works with in the mill. It became so popular that various departments are now requesting the orange ribbons for hard hats.

Bob who is of Tahltan, Tlingit, Nisga’a, and Japanese descent said that he wanted people to be aware of this history of Indigenous people.

He also said that his initiative is not about the individual but it’s about the bigger picture. “I feel that’s what the ribbons are doing. We wear the orange on our hardhats and keep it close,” said Bob.