Building Economic Partnerships with First Nations
Interfor’s operations in British Columbia fall within the territories of 60 First Nations. We respect the deep connection First Nations have to their territories and work with them to develop strong relationships that offer mutual benefits.
First Nations play an integral role in the future of a strong, viable and sustainable forest economy. In the last five years, we have signed more than 80 agreements with First Nations related to shared business opportunities, training, capacity building and positive working relationships.
Our partnerships with First Nations are founded on mutually recognized objectives:
- Long-term agreements so First Nations can become strong and stable participants in the forest sector.
- Business-to-business partnerships that build capacity and support community development.
- Joint planning providing First Nations greater input into land-use planning within their territories.
- Certainty for our forest business in British Columbia.
- Predictable and cost-efficient access to areas where we hold harvest licences.
- Respect for First Nations’ culture.
- Addressing unique cultural, wildlife and environmental values in each territory.
We value the important role First Nations play as stewards of their lands, and acknowledge their unique perspectives and traditional knowledge. We work with them before we submit permits or begin harvesting so we are able to understand and incorporate their knowledge, values and needs into our planning. We meet with First Nations land use departments, the elected and/or hereditary leadership, and the community at large. We provide economic and technical support and share data so land use departments can make informed decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
The BC and Canadian governments are both committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Interfor respects the importance of UNDRIP to First Nations, and supports the commitment by Canada and BC to implement it in a way that provides clarity, balance and mutual recognition of all interests in a strong, stable and sustainable economy. We also respect the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision regarding Tsilhqot’in, and use this as the basis of our engagement with First Nations.
2017 achievements and actions
- We entered into an historic five-year agreement with the shíshálh Nation in Sechelt, BC, that includes mutual commitments to annual forestry projects, joint decision-making and a process for ensuring that forestry operations are conducted in a manner that upholds shíshálh Nation laws.
“This agreement is the outcome of many years of work by past and current leaders of our great Nation. It helps to build the prosperity of our Nation and our people. Interfor has always demonstrated its leadership and commitment to work collaboratively with the shíshálh people.” – híwus (Chief) Warren Paull
- We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Homalco First Nation, which has served as a platform to support business opportunities, including forestry and tourism. It also supports important river restoration work at Orford Bay, home to the Nations’ growing grizzly bear viewing business.
- We entered into an agreement with the Heiltsuk Nation to support construction of a Big House in Bella Bella. The agreement supports a joint logging project with the Nation’s forestry company.
- We led workshops so Interfor employees and summer students can better understand the history of First Nations in Canada, appreciate the importance of these relationships to Interfor, and how they support and contribute to reconciliation today.
- We entered into an agreement with Little Shuswap Indian Band and Arrow Transportation. The Band will sell fiber to Interfor and use the revenue to invest in logging trucks in partnership with Arrow Transportation, which has a contract to haul logs for Interfor. Band members are receiving truck driver training from Arrow and Thompson Rivers University.
- Harvesting began on a multi-year agreement involving the Okanagan Indian Band, Gorman Brothers Lumber Ltd. and Interfor that provides revenue and capacity development for Band members and critical log supply for both forest companies. We also collaborated to fall 200 trap trees to control a Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation.
- With support from Interfor’s harvesting activities in the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ territory on Vancouver Island, the Nation opened up a satellite office in Port Alberni to provide important services to the approximately 70 percent of the Nation’s citizens who live off Treaty Settlement lands.
“This office will provide services to our citizens that they otherwise wouldn’t have received. It’s something that’s been missing for a long time.” – Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ President Les Doiron
- We were a major sponsor of Tribal Journeys 2017, where 100 canoes and 2,500 Coastal First Nation pullers from territories along the Pacific Ocean came together in Campbell River to share, learn and preserve indigenous traditions. Interfor staff devoted three days to volunteer at this historic gathering.
“Interfor has operated on BC’s coast for more than 50 years, and our success has been – and will continue to be – grounded in our partnerships with communities and First Nations.” – Robin Modesto Coastal Woodlands Manager, Supply Chain & Land Use
Internal and external oversight
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
- Canada Constitution Act, 1982, Section 25
- Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia 2014 SCC 44
- SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard
- Recognize and Respect Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Objective 8
- Interfor First Nations Cultural Assessment Process
- BC Government
- Building Relationships with First Nations: Respecting Rights and Doing Good Business
- Objectives for cultural heritage resources – BC Forest Planning and Practices Regulation Section 10
- BC Heritage Conservation Act