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  • (April 13, 2021) Vancouver, BC – The First Nations Forestry Council (the ‘Forestry Council’) has officially opened registration for the 2nd Annual BC First Nations Forestry Conference, which will be held virtually between June 16-18, 2021.

    The 2021 Conference program will include a variety of topics related to forestry workforce opportunities and partnerships, as well as panel discussions and presentations on the timber supply review process, First Nations Woodland Licences, and stewardship practices in all regions of British Columbia.

    “We must continue the important work of advocating for the increased role Nations have to play as full partners in forestry,” says Chief Bill Williams, President of the Forestry Council.

    “That is why this year, we have chosen to frame the event within the theme of BC First Nations as Full Partners.”

    The Forestry Council strives to support and advocate for the role Nations should play as the rightful owners of forest lands and resources, including access to an equitable share of the benefits derived from forestry activities within their traditional territories.

    “This event provides the space and opportunity to bring Nations, industry, and Government together to discuss changes needed to increase First Nations involvement in timber supply reviews, increase access to tenure, and development of partnerships to increase First Nations’ involvement in the workforce,” tells Charlene Higgins, CEO of the Forestry Council.

    “Through the 2021 BC First Nations Forestry Conference, we look forward to highlighting First Nations in the BC forest sector, paving a new way forward with First Nations as Full Partners.”

    Find out more and register for this year’s event by visiting this link.

     

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    For media enquiries, please contact:

    Michael Robach
    Communications Manager
    First Nations Forestry Council
    michael@forestrycouncil.ca

  • February 16, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) The Forest Stewardship Council of Canada (FSC) has announced their full support of the BC First Nations Forest Strategy (the ‘Forest Strategy’).

    “We applaud FSC for leading by example as the first forest certification system in British Columbia to align themselves with a Forest Strategy informed directly by Nations for over a decade,” tells Chief Bill Williams, President and Chair of the Board for the BC First Nations Forestry Council (the ‘Forestry Council’).

    Released in May 2019, the Forest Strategy was developed in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (MFLNRORD) to advance reconciliation and support the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It was fully endorsed by BC First Nations through resolutions passed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit, and the BC Assembly of First Nations in 2019. 

    “FSC Canada looks forward to accompanying the BC First Nations Forestry Council in the successful implementation of the Forest Strategy, along with an effective commitment from the Government of British Columbia to uphold UNDRIP,” says David Flood, Chair of the Board for FSC.

    François Dufresne, President and CEO of FSC Canada adds: “The coming into effect of the new FSC standard in 2020 in Canada strengthens the value proposition for First Nations to lead governance and stewardship. FSC is an international certification scheme focused on achieving sustainable forests for all forever.”

    The Forest Strategy outlines six strategic goals and provides a framework to implement UNDRIP and modernize government-to-government relationships through a collaborative approach to forest governance, stewardship, and joint decision-making.

    “The Forest Strategy recognizes Nations as Governments and rights holders,” says Chief Williams. “The Forest Strategy implements UNDRIP, shared decision-making, and supports partnerships with industry, building a strong, inclusive way forward with First Nations as full partners.”

    “Reconciliation is hard work, and it takes all of us” tells Charlene Higgins, CEO of the Forestry Council. “This includes the need for the BC Government to live up to their commitment to the Nations, put words into action, and fully endorse the Forest Strategy.”

    “We look forward to continuing our work with the Nations, the new BC Government, and partners like FSC to increase the role BC First Nations should play in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources on their territories.”

     

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    For additional information:

    Michael Robach
    Communications Manager
    BC First Nations Forestry Council
    michael@forestrycouncil.ca
    +1 604-971-3448

  • 06 Jan 2021 by Charlene Higgins

    Dear Members,

    2020 has been an unprecedented year. We are grateful to you for supporting us, for sharing in your knowledge and perspectives, and for guiding our vision to assist all Nations in creating a healthy forest sector that continues to sustain the cultural, spiritual, economic, and social lives of BC’s First Nations.

    In spite of the challenges this year we are proud to have accomplished a lot together, continuing the important work of advocating for meaningful and consistent involvement of First Nations as full partners in a revitalized forest sector. We adapted to new ways of ensuring your voices could be heard through virtual meetings and online forms, resulting in the release of a recommendations report that outlines Indigenous values and principles for defining forest stewardship objectives. This report sets a path for much needed, continued engagement and work on forest policy and legislative reform in the new year.

    Our workforce initiatives gained great success this year with the launch of our first virtual career fair, #ForestryConnect2020, which attracted nearly 200 Indigenous students from across the province, engaging on forestry work opportunities and educational programs. The Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program (IFSP) also welcomed a new Program Partner, BC Wildfire Service, which enabled us to increase scholarship awards to a total of 25 Indigenous students from 23 communities this year.

    The release of our 2017-2020 Activities Report marked another important milestone: the revitalization of our First Nations Membership Program. Membership allows us to build a meaningful relationship that supports, informs, and involves you in provincial initiatives, including forest policy and legislative changes the province continues to advance. To all of the members who have reaffirmed their support for our work this year: thank you.

    Over a year ago, the BC government committed to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The articles of UNDRIP link directly to the six goals of the BC & First Nations Forest Strategy. However, the province still has not followed through on their commitment of endorsing it. It is critical that we continue to put pressure on the new provincial government to endorse the Forest Strategy.

    The Forestry Council is here to listen, support, and advocate for the role Nations should play in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources. As we welcome the new year, I look forward to continuing our work together, advocating for the changes needed to forest policies, legislation, and practices to ensure BC First Nations are full partners in the transformation of the forest sector. Together we can make change happen.

    We wish you a healthy and happy holiday season.

    Respectfully,

    Charlene Higgins, MSc, PhD
    CEO, BC First Nations Forestry Council