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Nanwakola Council, WFP announce LOU to develop joint planning and reconciliation protocol agreement


October 20, 2021
By Western Forest Products

Nanwakolas Council and Western Forest Products Inc. are pleased to announce the completion of a Letter of Understanding (LOU) to develop a Joint Planning and Reconciliation Protocol agreement. Under this comprehensive agreement, the parties will work towards co-developing an Integrated Resource Management Plan (IMRP) and mutually beneficial business solutions in support of economic reconciliation.

Through the IRMP process, the parties intend to work closely together to jointly develop a collaborative approach to sustainable forest management in the traditional territories of the member First Nations on central Vancouver Island.

Based on the identification of common and shared interests, the parties will explore options for long-term business partnerships that continue to support local communities and advance B.C.-based sawmilling and value-added manufacturing. Through the protocol agreement, the parties may propose joint solutions to the B.C. government to advance reconciliation with Indigenous communities while advancing B.C.’s leadership in the sustainable management of forests.

“This agreement builds on our 2020 Information Sharing Protocol and Large Cultural Cedar Declaration,” said Dallas Smith, president of the Nanwakolas Council. “The joint planning process will implement the parties’ shared commitment to promote healthy and resilient forests and establish workable solutions for economic reconciliation that support good paying jobs necessary for vibrant communities.”

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The Nanwakolas Council and Western will consider relevant information and work together to include the values of Indigenous communities, employing leading experts to design and implement new approaches to old forest management considering all 14 recommendations of the B.C. Old Forest Review – inclusive of a joint and balanced approach to old forest deferrals.

“Nanwakolas and Western will work together on developing a long-term view that supports sustainable and economic access to the full forest profile while incorporating the values and interests of the Nanwakolas Council Member Nations in designing the shared management approach,” said Shannon Janzen, Western’s vice-president, partnerships and sustainability and chief forester. “The Nations and Western intend to apply science-based and data driven approaches in concert with traditional Indigenous knowledge consistent with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. This collaborative approach builds upon similar initiatives in other areas of the coast and we are excited to work with Nanwakolas on a Joint Planning and Reconciliation Protocol Agreement.”

For the purposes of this LOU, Nanwakolas Council represents Tlowitsis, K’ómoks, Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai First Nations. Several Western forest tenures, including TFL 39 (Blocks 2, 3 and 5), TFL 25 (Block 2), and TFL 37, overlap with the Nations’ traditional territories. In recent years, the Nations and Western have engaged in several innovative projects, including implementation of the Nanwakolas Large Cultural Cedar Declaration and the Information Sharing Protocol. Development of the joint plan may include opportunities to amend it to engage with other Nanwakolas Council Member Nations.