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Manitoba signs forestry development agreement with First Nations group


March 1, 2019
By Ellen Cools
Ellen Cools

The province of Manitoba has signed a two-year forestry management option license with four First Nations on the east side of Lake Winnipeg to investigate the possibility of Indigenous-led forest development.

The agreement involves Black River First Nation, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Hollow Water First Nation and Sagkeeng First Nation.

According to a press release, the group will look into several options including:

• deciding wood supply and suitability for commercial forestry
• possible private partnerships and investment for commercial developments
• developing a proposal for an Indigenous-owned and operated company to manage, develop, harvest and renew the area’s forest
• creating an application for a long-term forest management license, encouraging more Indigenous participation in economic development and sustainable practices

“With this forest management license, we can finally realize the dream we have been working on all these years,” said Chief Sheldon Kent, Black River First Nation, in a statement. “It will take time, energy and capital, but we are ready. It is a win-win for everyone including all the communities and stakeholders involved in this project.”

According to Edmond LaBossière, chair of the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities (CDEM), this agreement has been in the works for three years.

The license represents over 5,000 square kilometres of land east of Lake Winnipeg and northeast of the Winnipeg River, where commercial forestry activity stalled after the Timber Industries mill in Pine Fills closed in 2009.

The province will consider the value for money of commercial development in the area when the First Nations submit a business plan and forest development proposal within the two-year license period.