Quatsino First Nation signed agreements with three forest companies on Tuesday night, but all of the parties say this is just the start, not the end, of negotiations.
Forest companies Western Forest Products Inc., Interfor Corporation and Lemare each signed agreements with Chief James Nelson Tuesday at the Quattishe Hall in Quatsino in front of more than 100 band members and guests.
“Our relationship is starting, the negotiations are starting, now,” said Chief Nelson. “And it’s going to come from the grassroots up.”
The chief and company officials said they hope to build long-term relationships that will support a strong future for the Nation and forestry within the Quatsino Traditional Territory on Northern Vancouver Island.
Western, Interfor and Lemare hold forest tenures within the Quatsino Territory. The companies have been working in the Quatsino area for decades. Under the agreements signed Tuesday, the licensees commit to working with Quatsino on matters of common interest and ensuring mutual benefit from forestry operations within the Territory.
“Quatsino First Nation is committed to the government of the Quatsino Territory for the benefit of current and future generations,” said Chief Nelson. “We see industry partners like Western, Interfor and Lemare as integral to a healthy and prosperous future for the Quatsino people.”
(Keep checking this website and see the April 26 edition of The Gazette to read more of Chief Nelson’s comments and more coverage from the ceremony on Tuesday.)
A news release from the companies said the agreements support Quatsino’s vision of a “vibrant, healthy community that is self- governing, prosperous, supportive, and carries our growing knowledge forward for future generations.” – Quatsino Comprehensive Community Plan, 2013.
“Western has a long history of working with First Nation communities,” said Seanna McConnell, Director of First Nations Partnerships for Western. “Quatsino First Nation and Western have been leaders at working together in the forest industry — from silviculture crews to harvesting companies, and having recently celebrated the seventh anniversary of our the award-winning Quatern Limited Partnership. Now, with this agreement we look to define the future of seeking mutually beneficial relationships as we produce the most sustainable building materials on the planet.”
“We believe that building value for First Nations communities is a fundamental part of our business,” said Bob Craven, Interfor’s Manager of Economic Partnerships. “Through this agreement we will work together to better understand one another’s interests and develop a mutually beneficial framework for our operations in the Quatsino Territory.”
“As a local second generation North Island Forestry business, Lemare has been actively invested in supporting many social, cultural and economic activities with the Quatsino First Nation,” said Ann-Marie Baron of Lemare. “We are proud of this relationship and look forward to developing new opportunities and continued growth through this agreement.”