Quebec sawmill wins leadership award
Sept. 23, 2013, Montreal – A joint-venture sawmill in Quebec has been awarded the Aboriginal Forest Products Business Leadership Award by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB).
The Opitciwan sawmill is a joint venture between the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan in Obedjiwan (Quebec) and Resolute Forest Products. The Council has a 55 per cent controlling interest in the facility and Resolute owns the remaining 45 per cent.
"The success of this operation lies in the complementary strengths of the partners," said Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer. "The Atikamekw community has a deep knowledge of the territory and a talented workforce, while Resolute contributes through its forestry expertise and sales structure. We also share a common interest in ensuring that the forests we rely upon continue to provide for the cultural, environmental and economic needs of future generations."
The joint FPAC-CCAB award recognizes and celebrates Aboriginal entrepreneurs for their success in a forest products business that exemplifies industry leadership, exceptional environmental and safety performance, and the delivery of high-quality products and services.
The Opitciwan sawmill has been the heart of the Atikamekw community for fourteen years. It employs 165, representing 60 per cent of the community's residents, and generates annual income of C$20 million. To respect the community's culture and harmonize operations with traditional activities, mill production shutdowns are timed with local events. The sawmill has also contributed financial support to provide radio and internet service to the community. In 2013, Opitciwan achieved the distinction of receiving the first ever Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification granted to an Aboriginal company in Eastern Canada.
"Resolute is committed to supporting and maintaining constructive and solid relationships with First Nations by exploring employment and business development opportunities of mutual benefit," added Garneau. "The Opitciwan sawmill is a true success story. It has generated sustainable opportunities in a northern community, and has survived challenging market conditions to emerge with a bright economic future."