July 16, 2018 – An historic 50-50 partnership between Nekoté (a corporation representing seven First Nations) and Canadian Kraft Paper (CKPI) has been forged in Manitoba.
A new company called Nisokapawino Forestry Management Corporation has been formed under the new partnership to co-manage 8.7 million hectares of boreal forest, sharing responsibilities for forest management, maintaining sustainable forestry practices, protecting environmental values, and bolstering strong, local economies.
Nisokapawino is Cree for “two standing together,” and evokes a meaning that is deeper than partnership. Nisokapawino will operate within a tenure designated as Forest Management Licence 2 (FML-2). It is the largest forest tenure in North America, which overlaps with the traditional territories of nine First Nations, providing homes and livelihoods for thousands of people. It stores vast amounts of carbon and freshwater, has abundant rivers, wildlife, fish, and birds.
“I’m excited about the partnership,” Chief Clarence Easter of Chemawawin Cree Nation said. “CKPI is the first company to recognize the value of working with First Nations. We wanted this equal partnership because they are operating in our backyard, and we make a living from our backyard – we have fishermen, trappers, berry pickers, medicine pickers. We have wildlife, like moose, that are important to us. By bringing traditional knowledge of our people, we can improve the process. This is just the start. Now the real work begins, with our communities….”
Tony Zandos, senior adviser to SKPI, said, “We are very proud and happy to be part of this historic occasion. At the time of the sale of the mill, CKPI and First Nations leadership identified a need for joint participation in forest management decision-making. It was agreed a partnership would be formed that could meet the objectives of Nekoté with respect to meaningful participation in forest management and enhanced opportunities for access to employment, and business development and meet the objectives of CKPI with respect to access to reliable, low-cost fibre. Nisokapawino Forestry Management Corporation is pivotal in the continued success of this longstanding business in northern Manitoba to the benefit of northern Manitoba.”
Since November 2016, CKPI and Nekoté have been working diligently to create partnership agreements that improve communication with rightsholders and stakeholders on the FML, enhance understanding and opportunities around forest management decision making, and create better access to employment and business development opportunities.
Grand Chief Dumas, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said, “I’m very optimistic about this opportunity. It has the potential to create a template for how economic and environmental issues will move in the future, in a responsible and effective way, with proper participation of First Nations interests, to the benefit of everyone.”
Nisokapawino will undertake the responsibilities associated with developing forest management plans, silvicuture and renewal plans and activities, and maintaining the CSA Z-809 Sustainable Forest Management and ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certifications. This includes commitments to community involvement and feedback as forest management plans are developed, which will strengthen engagement and create opportunities for community-based monitoring and oversight of existing operations.
CKPI will transition the work associated with the FMLA responsibilities to Nisokapawino over the next few weeks. Nisokapawino is expecting to be operational in that regard by July 23, 2018.
Canadian Kraft Paper Industries Limited is located in The Pas, Man. and focusses solely on the production of unbleached extensible Kraft papers.
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