The boreal forest has fed, clothed and housed humans for thousands of years. Today, it continues to be a source for people’s livelihood through direct employment – in harvesting and regenerating forests, and in manufacturing operations – and indirect employment; the grocery stores, schools, hospitals and thousands of other businesses and organizations that depend upon boreal communities.
Boreal Forest Economic Facts
- More than 233,800 Canadians are directly employed in forestry jobs, and more than 600,000 Canadians rely on the industry for their livelihoods.
- The forestry sector’s contribution to Canada’s GDP was $24 billion dollars CDN in 2012, or nearly 2 percent of the entire Canadian GDP (and 12 percent of Canada’s manufacturing GDP).
- Over 800 First Nations communities are located in Canada’s boreal region, and an estimated 17,000 First Nations people in Canada make their living in the forest products industry.
- The average wage of a forest products industry employee is $52,673, or 16 percent above the national Canadian average. The Canadian forest products industry pays roughly $9 billion in wages annually.
- The industry is a vital contributor to trade between Canada and the United States — the U.S. alone counts for 65 percent of Canada’s wood and paper product exports for use in a range of products, from printing paper to building materials to packaging to labels and advertising.
Preserving these communities and their way of life is a major reason why the industry has invested so heavily in science-based conservation of forests to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Resolute Forest Products recognizes and respects the cultural and social significance of the land, water and forests of Canada to its First Nations peoples. We also understand these resources are critical to their prosperity and economic sustainability. We share a common interest in ensuring that the forests we rely on continue to provide for the environmental, social, cultural and economic needs of future generations. Through decades of working alongside these partners, we know that conversations about the future of the boreal forest must include the voices of the First Nations people. That’s why we have called for their active participation in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. (Learn more about CBFA here).
Instrumental in Sustainable Forest Management
Given our belief that public consultation is an essential step in the sustainable forestry process, we make sure we engage our First Nations partners in reviewing our harvesting plans to ensure we’ve taken into account all local environmental, social, cultural, traditional and economic considerations. Resolute enjoys strong partnerships with many such communities:
- THUNDER BAY, ON: On May 14, 2013, Resolute celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Thunder Bay sawmill; a unique business partnership between Resolute and the Fort William First Nation. The mill employs over 170 people. In 2012, the Thunder Bay sawmill also became the first facility in Canada to operate under regulations created by the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act. This legislation enables Federal Reserve land to operate under Provincial statutes, thereby facilitating industrial development with First Nations on their land. The project’s ongoing success is the result of the collective efforts over the past 10 years of the Company and the Fort William First Nation, the sawmill employees, the City of Thunder Bay, the governments of Ontario and Canada, and the many contractors and suppliers that service the facility.
- ATIKOKAN, ON: Our new $50 million sawmill project at Atikokan will create around 90 jobs, with additional jobs in construction and hauling lumber and residual wood chips. The company recently signed a memorandum of agreement with First Nations in the Atikokan area, which is expected to generate significant economic opportunity for Aboriginal communities in the region.
- WABIGOON LAKE, ON: Resolute assisted the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in establishing a tree nursery in their community. The Company also purchases more than 1.5 million trees annually from this venture to support regeneration activities.
- IROQUOIS FALLS, ON: Three Nations Logging, a forestry contracting company owned by Moose Band Development Corporation (Moose Cree First Nation), carries out all direct harvesting work on behalf of Resolute on the company’s Iroquois Falls licence areas.
- Resolute also has a number of partnerships with other First Nations groups in Ontario related to employment and contracting opportunities, wood purchase, harvest planning, road construction, maintenance reforestation, and sharing of expertise in sustainable forest management certification.
- OBEDJIWAN, QC: This joint venture operation with the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan has been in place since 1998. The Council owns 55% of the Opitciwan sawmill, while Resolute owns 45%. The sawmill is located on reserve land and currently employs around 80 members of the community of Obedjiwan. Those employed by the venture act as role models for the youth in this northern community. Resolute has contributed to the maintenance of road access to the community, supported infrastructure, and assisted in the implementation of the sawmill forestry service, and entered into wood purchase agreements with the community. In September 2013, the Opitciwan sawmill was awarded the prestigious Aboriginal Business Leadership Award by the Forest Products Association of Canada and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
- MANIWAKI, QC: Resolute has had a partnership with the community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg for the last ten years, in which Resolute has carried out forest management and harvesting activities in exchange for a stumpage fee for volumes allocated to Kitigan Zibi by the Quebec government.
- Resolute has a number of partnerships with other First Nations groups in Quebec related to employment and contracting opportunities, wood purchase, harvest planning, facilitation of negotiations, Innu language translation, mapping of cultural landmarks, development of an adapted forestry practice code, and sharing of expertise in sustainable forest management certification.
These Partnerships Matter
Through mutually beneficial employment and business development opportunities, Resolute can support economic and social empowerment of our partner communities.
- There are 800 First Nations communities in the boreal forest region of Canada. In some of our operating communities, they make up a large portion of the population. Strong relations are a must for any company with operations in the region.
- Approximately 17,000 First Nations people work in Canada’s forest products sector. Ensuring that we understand the needs of their communities is good for forest products companies as a whole because all of these people are valued as colleagues and team members.
Related article: Northwestern Ontario First Nations see $100 million in new aboriginal business