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Nanwakolas Council, WFP announce ‘Landmark’ forestry agreement

Four First Nations partnering to have greater role in forestry in mid- and North-Island
We Wai Kum Chief Chris Roberts speaks during the announcement event, with Nanwakolas President Dallas Smith standing nearby. Photo courtesy B.C. Government/Youtube

A new “landmark agreement” between North Island First Nations and Western Forest Products will help support Indigenous participation in the forestry industry.

The Tlowitsis, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and K’ómoks First Nations, and Western Forest Products Inc. (WFP) announced the agreement today (Oct. 24) that will allow the Nations to acquire a 34 per cent interest from WFP in a newly formed limited partnership for $35.9 million.

The partnership will consist of portions of WFP’s Mid Island operation, including 157,000 hectares in the territories of the Nations near Campbell River and Sayward. It will also manage an allowable annual cut of 904,540 cubic metres of timber.

“Tlowitsis, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and K’ómoks, who share significant areas of their respective territories, have been stewards of their forests for millennia. Na̲nwak̲olas Council assisted the four Nations in concluding the Agreement. This is a good day for everyone on Vancouver Island and the central coast,” said Dallas Smith, president, Na̲nwak̲olas Council. “For far too long, the very people who are the reason there were healthy, abundant forests here prior to colonization were excluded from participation in their continued sustainable management and any ability to benefit from them. Today, we celebrate a significant step forward on the pathway to sustainable, effective resource management of our forests for the benefit of future generations. I applaud the Nations for taking this step. I acknowledge Western for stepping up into the partnership and thank B.C. for helping make this happen.”

The partnership was facilitated by the province through Incremental Treaty Agreements with the Nations. All of the Nations involved are in Stage 5 of the B.C. Treaty Process.

“The partnership is an excellent example of working together towards reconciliation,” said Premier David Eby. “Incremental Treaty Agreements build trust and ensure First Nations in the treaty process and the entire community experience benefits sooner. This agreement means opportunities are on the way for business, First Nations members and communities on northern Vancouver Island, proving that a rising tide lifts all boats.”

The formation of the partnership and acquisition by the Nations, who are all member First Nations of the Na̲nwak̲olas Council, is subject to various closing conditions, including subdivision and tenure transfer approvals from the British Columbia Ministry of Forests. Western and the Nations are working toward closing the acquisition in the first quarter of 2024.

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