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Weyerhaeuser, First Nations sign forestry agreement

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
October 15, 2010
Publisher Name: 
Kenora Daily Miner & News
Mike Aiken
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Weyerhaeuser Canada president Anne Giardini joined with Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle and Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) Independent Nations Chief Eric Fisher in signing an historic shareholder-managed Sustainable Forest Licence for the Kenora Forest Thursday.

Under the unique agreement, Fisher will become the president of a cooperative venture — Miitigoog Limited Partnership, which will see First Nations and industry share the management of the 1.2 million-hectare Kenora Forest. Dalles and Whitefish Bay First Nations have also signed on, while industry partners include Kenora Forest Products, Wincrief Forestry Products and Kenora Independent Loggers.

In his comments, Fisher referred to the new arrangement as the fulfillment of the treaty signed back in 1873, since it offers the opportunity for sharing the forest, he said.

"It takes a lot of work, but it can happen," said Gravelle, who is also pushing forward with another set of tenure reforms that will reshape the struggling industry.

Giardini said the deal was the result of visionaries.

"It's been a personal vision of mine (that) forests can be landscapes of reconciliation," she said.

The licence was held by Weyerhaeuser, who officilly signed it over to the Miitigoog cooperative at an official ceremony Thursday in Kenora. Another cooperative, Miisun, will look after the monitoring, planning and enforcement aspects.

Whitedog First Nation entered into a partnership agreement with Moncrief last year to form the home builder Wincrief last year. Students at the community's school are looking forward to a new building next year, as well as new careers in the forest, as a result of the partnerships with government and industry.

By contrast, the neighbouring community of Grassy Narrows set up a blockade of logging roads into the Whiskey Jack Forest eight years ago.

While the signing comes as good news to a community that's lost more than $60 million in salaries in the recent downturn, the soft American housing markets continue to dampen sales for Weyerhaeuser's iLevel plant, where layoffs were recently announced, as well as Kenora Forest Products, where a restart continues to be delayed.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut