Building Economic Partnerships with First Nations
We respect the deep connection First Nations (Indigenous peoples) have to their territories and work with them to develop strong relationships that offer mutual benefits.
Interfor’s operations in British Columbia fall within the traditional territories of more than 60 First Nations. Our forestry operations are guided by our First Nations Partnerships: Objectives and Guiding Principles. This document outlines these goals:
- to recognize the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples(UNDRIP);
- to seek to uphold the Calls to Action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and
- to commit to meaningful consultation and obtain, where possible, the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of First Nations before proceeding with developments.
First Nations play an integral role in the future of a strong, viable and sustainable forest economy in BC. Interfor is committed to seeking First Nations representation and participation in the forest industry and promoting socio-economic development opportunities across their communities. Interfor has relationships with 33 First Nations with whom we have signed agreements that support shared business opportunities, training and capacity building, and positive working relationships that are founded on these mutually recognized objectives:
- Long-term agreements for strong and stable participation of First Nations in the forest sector.
- Business-to-business partnerships that build capacity and support community development.
- Joint planning involving greater First Nations input into land-use planning within their territories.
- Certainty for our forest business in British Columbia.
- Predictable and cost-efficient access to a log supply that supports our operations.
- Respect for First Nations culture.
- Addressing unique cultural, wildlife and environmental values in each territory.
As part of our formal process to meet these goals and objectives, we implement early and ongoing frequent communication and engagement with First Nations regarding activities within their territories. Through this engagement we work to identify cultural values, protect culturally sensitive areas and understand how our operations can contribute to community priorities. We believe that respect and understanding are critical to building strong working relationships and we have used workshops with First Nations Elders and region-specific training to advance Indigenous cultural competency amongst our staff.
In 2019, we continued to work with our First Nations partners under a range of mutually beneficial agreements such as:
- The ongoing partnership between Interfor and the shíshálh Nation that supports joint planning and management of all aspects of forestry operations in the swiya (territory).
- A Market Logging and Tenure Management Agreement with Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band that includes capacity-building initiatives.
- Our long-standing partnership with the Wuikinuxv First Nation to support the Nation’s vision for the future and prosperity of its people.
- A Tenure Management and Development Agreement with the Bonaparte First Nation that includes the long-term goals of a stable revenue flow and capacity building for the Nation’s Natural Resource Department as well as a secure log supply to Interfor.
- Our long-term partnership agreement with the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations that includes increased opportunities for the Nations’ forest company and regular planning meetings with the Nations’ stewardship team.
- The five-year agreement between Interfor and the Homalco First Nation that supports community interests and our strong working relationship with Homalco Forestry’s logging company.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Penticton Indian Band with active discussions on community benefits, and supporting Cultural Heritage Resource assessments.
- The business agreement we have with Metlakatla First Nation under which we provide technical support for their First Nations Woodland License and completed development of a joint project that will commence in 2020.
In addition to these ongoing agreements, we contributed to a number of First Nation community, cultural and employment initiatives in 2019. Some highlights include:
- We were honored to be invited to the opening of the Haíɫzaqv λiác̓i (big house) in Bella Bella, a historic and deeply moving event that celebrated the strengthening of Haíɫzaqv culture. Building on an MOU signed in 2014 and a strong working relationship developed over the past five years, Interfor contributed to the construction of the big house through an agreement and partnership project with the Haíɫzaqv Nation.
- We participated in a community forestry meeting held by Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation in Gwayasdums where we presented information on protecting community values in landscape reserves.
- We are working with the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations to develop a cedar inventory for their territory.
- We provided support to both the Klahoose and Tla’amin First Nations to support their participation in the Tribal Journeys canoe trip and gathering.
- We sponsored a field trip for Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw youth to visit an important traditional area within their territory.
- We participated in career and employment fairs with Neskonlith Indian Band and Kwakiutl First Nation as well as the First Nation Forestry Council’s career fairs held in Nanaimo and Kamloops.
- We provided support to the Okanagan Indian Band’s Hunting and Gathering Camp for their youth to learn traditional food gathering practices.
- We supplied cedar lumber for the establishment of a community garden for the Adams Lake Indian Band.
- We supported the Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band rodeo.