Thirteen Northern First Nations create forestry alliance
- EFN Staff | January 10, 2019
A new forestry agreement signed between several northern Indigenous communities with the intent of working together.
Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Big River First Nation, Pelican Lake First Nation, Witchekan Lake First Nation and Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) recently signed the forestry agreement to influence, initiate and execute on business-related opportunities within their ancestral Lands. MLTC has nine-member nations within its tribal council. The Saskatchewan First Nations Forestry Alliance represents 13 First Nations that will exercise their financial resources to leverage and partner with new business interests while maintaining the traditional use integrity of their ancestral lands. The vision of bringing all the groups under one alliance with this agreement have been in the works several years ago.
“Our intention is to build on the province’s commitment to more fully engage the traditional knowledge, financial resources, and investment interests of the First Nations,” said Robert Fincati, CEO of Montreal Lake Business Ventures in a media release. “This agreement will help us to be more fully engaged in forest businesses, creating new opportunities for our Nations.”
According to Al Balisky, CEO of MLTC Industrial Investments, the 13 First Nations that have signed the forestry agreement have shown they have the financial resources, management capacity, and vision to initiate and partner on forest industry and bioenergy investments.
“We look forward, on a priority basis, to working with the province to initiate and execute on these investments,” said Balisky. “Finalizing this Forestry Agreement is a pivotal first step in executing our vision supporting continued Indigenous investment and influence in Saskatchewan’s forest and climate sectors in Saskatchewan.”
Collectively, the 13 First Nations have control through their licences and commercial arrangement in excess of 4 million cubic meters of Annual Allowable Cut in Saskatchewan. This amounts more than 50% of the allocated and active wood supply in Saskatchewan.
“Our Ancestral Lands extend over more than two-thirds of Saskatchewan’s commercial forest zone,” said Chief Frank Roberts of Montreal Lake Cree Nation. “The collective strength of the 13 First Nations represented by our groups coming together will allow for the best possible outcome for all of us.”
Big River First Nation Chief Bruce Morin said they are focused on the long-term economic well-being of our membership.
“We foresee several forestry-related opportunities in the future and we want to strategically engage those opportunities to maximize benefits,” said Chief Morin. “We are proud to be part of this agreement and excited for the future. In addition, maintenance of the integrity of the forest within our traditional territory in order for our community members to practice our traditional activities is of significant importance.”
The newly appointed Chief of MLTC Richard Ben said they are certainly plan to work together on all business opportunities but forestry is a good start.
“We all have a common interest in making sure we are all on the same page when it comes to strategy, maximizing benefits, and above all, taking care of the land, and we need to respect those practices through joint agreements such as this one,” said Chief Ben.