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  • 28 Jun 2021 by Charlene Higgins

    Under the current provincial revenue sharing program (Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements) First Nations communities receive a share of stumpage the Province collects from harvesting activities on their territories.

    Since the start of this program in 2013, the Province has shared less than 6% of stumpage collected with First Nations.

    Taking into consideration the total contribution of the Forest Industry to the GDP of approximately $13 billion/year over the last 4 years, the Province has shared less than 0.5%/year of the GDP with First Nations.

    The current forest revenue sharing model with First Nations must change from sharing less that 6% to 50% of stumpage revenues collected.

    “A Path Forward”

    In 2018, as part of their commitment to advance the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and reconciliation, the Ministry Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) committed to developing a new BC & First Nations Forest Strategy (the ‘Forest Strategy’) in collaboration with BC First Nations. In 2019, this Forest Strategy was released, informed by almost a decade of engagement with BC First Nations, and developed in collaboration with the Province. It provides a framework for how BC can meet their commitments for the alignment of forestry laws with UNDRIP informed by First Nations priorities. However, the Government of BC is not living up to their commitment to First Nations. They have not endorsed or committed to the implementation of the Forest Strategy.

    The Intention Paper released by the government June 3, 2021 sets out a vision to modernize BC Forest policy, but it was developed with no input from First Nations and does not make any mention of the Forest Strategy.

    The Intention Paper released by the government June 3, 2021 sets out a vision to modernize BC Forest policy, but it was developed with no input from First Nations and does not make any mention of the Forest Strategy. The Intention Paper identifies that to support reconciliation there is a need to “increase economic and land management opportunities for Indigenous Peoples” but does not identify actions to support this goal. The Forest Strategy has six main goals that identify concrete steps the BC Government can take to advance reconciliation and support the implementation of UNDRIP. This includes shared decision making, a collaborative approach to forest governance and stewardship, and access to a meaningful share of forest revenues derived from forest lands and resources in Indigenous territories.

    In 2019, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) was passed and became law in BC. Through the Declaration Act BC has committed to aligning its laws with UNDRIP. The Forest Strategy is directly linked to the articles of UNDRIP and provides a framework for the BC government to implement UNDRIP and the Declaration Act.

    The Forest Strategy has been fully endorsed by the First Nations leadership in BC and supported by the BC First Nations Leadership Council through resolutions passed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit and the BC Assembly of First Nations.

     

    “It's time for action”

    What should economic reconciliation look like? Objectives outlined under Goal 2 of the Forest Strategy to support economic reconciliation include:

    • The current forest revenue sharing model must change to increase the share of revenues with First Nations,
    • First Nations should share in the economic benefits derived for forest lands and resources on their territories, and
    • Forest revenue sharing will support First Nations governance capacity, and a modernized government-to-government relationship.

    With economic inclusion and the meaningful sharing of forest revenues and resources through tenure reform and other tools, First Nations have the potential to unlock billions of dollars and be partners in building strong, diverse inclusive forest sector in BC.

    “Economic reconciliation must establish the foundation for building an inclusive economy- this is the journey from invisibility to inclusivity of Indigenous PeoplesEconomic reconciliation is the process of creating and facilitating meaningful partnerships and mutually beneficial opportunities to support Indigenous economic prosperity and inclusion” (Indigenomics, Taking a Seat at the Economic Table, Carol Anne Hilton, 2021).

    So, what has to change in BC? A lot

    The BC Government must live up to their commitment and endorse and implement the Forest Strategy which outlines a framework to support the implementation of UNDRIP and advance reconciliation. The Forest Strategy should be used to guide and inform work under the Intention Paper to modernize forest policy in BC and forest sector transition with First Nations as full partners. 

    It’s time for the BC government to put words into actions to advance economic reconciliation and Indigenous prosperity and inclusion in the forest sector. Meaningful sharing of forest revenues with all First Nations, not just some, supports Indigenomics, and economic reconciliation with First Nations as full partners in the forest sector.

    Time for Talk is Over.  #ItsTimeForAction

  • June 2, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) – The BC First Nations Forestry Council (the “the Forestry Council”) acknowledges the release of the Province of British Columbia’s Intentions Paper, “Modernizing Forest Policy in BC.”

    As part of this work, the Forestry Council is hopeful the Province will act on the commitment made to the Nations in 2018 to implement the BC First Nations Forest Strategy, which provides a framework to increase First Nations participation in the forest sector.

    In 2019 the Forest Strategy received endorsement of First Nations leadership in BC at meetings of the BC Assembly of First Nations, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and the First Nations Summit.

    The Forestry Council recognizes the significant changes to climate that are directly impacting forests. With knowledge that goes back generations, First Nations are key in addressing the economic, social, and environmental challenges of managing forest lands and resources for a sustainable forest today and in the future.

    • The Forestry Council is pleased to see that the Province is recognizing that First Nations have wanted greater access to forest tenure for over a decade and identified tenure reallocation, through the use of apportionment and other tools, as part of modernizing forest policy. Increased First Nations participation in the forest sector through tenure reform is a key goal outlined in the Forest Strategy (Goal 4).
    • We are also pleased to see the acknowledgment that First Nations want a greater role in the forest sector and in forest management. This was confirmed in our engagements with First Nations to build the Forest Strategy and the focus of Goals 1 and 5.

    The Forestry Council is, however, disappointed that the Province does not mention or commit to implementation of all the goals set by Nations within the Forest Strategy.

    The purpose of the Forest Strategy is to modernize G2G relationships between the Province and First Nations, and provides the framework to guide meaningful change in BC forestry with First Nations as full partners.

    The Province has presented an opportunity to come together again in collaboration to implement the six goals of the Forest Strategy as part of the modernization of forest policy in BC. The meaningful engagement of First Nations in the development of management tools and a vision for globally competitive, diverse, and a sustainable forest sector for generations is work we can, and should, undertake together. We look forward to working with the Province to engage with First Nations in the modernization of forest policy and legislations in BC.

     

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    For additional info, contact:

    BC First Nations Forestry Council
    Michael Robach
    Communications Manager
    michael@forestrycouncil.ca
    +1 +1 604-971-3448 (ext. 4635)

     

     

    ABOUT THE #ITSTIME CAMPAIGN

    Learn more: https://www.forestrycouncil.ca/cpages/its-time-forestry 

    ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

    The First Nations Forestry Council will be hosting the 2nd Annual BC First Nations Forestry Conference virtually between June 16-18, 2021.

    The 2021 event will bring together BC First Nations to share information related to forestry workforce opportunities, and provide a space for communities to share knowledge about forest stewardship and management practices in all regions of British Columbia.

    The theme for this year’s event is “BC First Nations as Full Partners”. As an organization, the Forestry Council strives to support and advocate for the role BC First 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. That is why this year, the conference will also provide the opportunity to bring together industry, Government, and Nations to discuss changes to forest policy and legislation, tenure, and workforce partnerships.

    For more information, or to sign on as a Sponsor, please e-mail: info@forestrycouncil.ca.

  • June 1, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) – To honor National Indigenous History Month, the BC First Nations Forestry Council is launching an awareness campaign to bring into focus the BC First Nations Forest Strategy (the ‘Forest Strategy’) and the six goals informed by direct input of First Nations for over a decade.

    “BC First Nations have endorsed the six goals identified within the Forest Strategy,” tells Charlene Higgins, CEO of the BC First Nations Forestry Council. “It’s time for Government and Industry to acknowledge and implement them; it’s time for us to move forward.”

    The Forest Strategy reflects the principles of UNDRIP and was developed to support government-to-government relationships between the Province and First Nations to increase the role Indigenous Nations play in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources.

    “The Forest Strategy and Implementation Plan were released in 2019, but the Province still hasn’t fulfilled their commitment to action or endorsing either,” says Higgins.

    “We must do better if we are to revitalize the BC forest sector with First Nations as full partners.”

    Throughout the month of June, the Forestry Council is calling on industry, community, and Government to help amplify the goals of the Forest Strategy by taking action and sharing goals from the Forest Strategy online.

    Visit this link to learn more about each goal, their link to UNDRIP, and how you can participate in the #ItsTime campaign during the month of June.



    The Forestry Council will also be marking this year’s National Indigenous History Month with the 2nd Annual BC First Nations Forestry Conference, taking place virtually between June 16-18, 2021.

    “To truly implement UNDRIP, Nations must play a larger role in decisions pertaining to the management and stewardship of forest lands and resources,” tells Higgins. “The Conference will highlight good examples, and changes needed to make First Nations full partners in the forest sector.” 

    You can view the full conference program at this link.

    “Reconciliation is hard work” tells Higgins. “We look forward to continuing this work with industry and the provincial government to put words into action in changes to forest policies, legislation and regulations to increase the role Nations play in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources.”

     

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    For additional info, contact:

    BC First Nations Forestry Council
    Michael Robach
    Communications Manager
    michael@forestrycouncil.ca
    +1 +1 604-971-3448 (ext. 4635)

  • May 12, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) – The BC First Nations Forestry Council is announcing the keynote speaker, Chief Councilor Robert Dennis, from Huu-ay-aht First Nation, for the 2021 BC First Nations Forestry Conference who will speak about the “Pathway to First Nations as Full Partners in Forestry.”

    The event will also feature representatives of the First Nations Leadership Council – Regional Chief Terry Teegee (BCAFN), Chief Judy Wilson (UBCIC), and Robert Phillips (FNS) – who will together take part on a panel on the BC First Nations Forest Strategy and the implementation of UNDRIP.

    “This year’s Conference program is focused on bringing BC First Nations together to discuss their involvement in forestry,” tells Charlene Higgins, CEO of the BC First Nations Forestry Council.

    “Speakers from all over the province will bring their lens to discuss the role First Nations should play in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources as full partners,” she adds.

    Sessions will cover topics related to the Timber Supply Review Process, First Nations Woodland Licenses, and the importance of strong industry partnerships with First Nations.

    This year’s event will also provide the space for discussions on Indigenous involvement in the workforce, including an award ceremony that will recognize and celebrate the achievements of the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program (IFSP).

    “This gathering offers up the unique opportunity to present exciting work ahead for the implementation of the BC First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy (the ‘Workforce Strategy’),” tells Karen Sorensen, Workforce Development Manager for the Forestry Council.

    “The success of the Workforce Strategy is based on strong partnerships, and we look forward to celebrating the successes of Indigenous talent already entering into the workforce.”

    On the Wednesday before the conference, participants are also invited to attend engagement sessions to help inform a new Indigenous Workforce in Forestry initiative currently being developed.

    “To truly implement UNDRIP, Nations must play a larger role in decisions pertaining to the management and stewardship of forest lands and resources,” tells Higgins. “The Conference will highlight good examples, and changes needed to make First Nations full partners in the forest sector.”

    The full program and speakers list is available, along with registration information, at https://pheedloop.com/FNForestryConference/site/schedule/.

     

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    ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

    The First Nations Forestry Council will be hosting the 2nd Annual BC First Nations Forestry Conference virtually between June 16-18, 2021.

    The 2021 event will bring together BC First Nations to share information related to forestry workforce opportunities, and provide a space for communities to share knowledge about forest stewardship and management practices in all regions of British Columbia.

    The theme for this year’s event is “BC First Nations as Full Partners”. As an organization, the Forestry Council strives to support and advocate for the role BC First 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. That is why this year, the conference will also provide the opportunity to bring together industry, Government, and Nations to discuss changes to forest policy and legislation, tenure, and workforce partnerships.

    For more information, or to sign on as a Sponsor, please e-mail: info@forestrycouncil.ca.

     

    THANK YOU TO OUR 2021 SILVER SPONSORS

     

     

    For additional info, contact:

    BC First Nations Forestry Council
    Michael Robach
    Communications Manager
    michael@forestrycouncil.ca
    +1 +1 604-971-3448 (ext. 4635)

     

  • (April 20, 2021) VANCOUVER, BC – The First Nations Forestry Council has announced three new partnerships with Mosaic Forest Management, Tolko Industries Ltd. (Tolko), and Western Forest Products Inc. through the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program (IFSP).

    Since the launch of the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program in 2012, 80 Indigenous students have received full scholarships to attend a forestry program of their choice, along with a paid work placement with participating program partners.

    The program, with support from these new partners, will now offer additional full scholarships for BC First Nations entering into a career in BC forestry.

    “The growth of the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program is creating meaningful opportunities for First Nations to enter into all areas of the BC Forest Sector”, tells Charlene Higgins, CEO of the BC First Nations Forestry Council.

    “Our program partners play an integral role in the success of our Indigenous recipients, providing the resources and work opportunities necessary to grow Indigenous involvement in all areas of forestry in BC,” she adds.

    Scholarship recipients must be enrolled in full-time forestry-related studies. Candidates are then required to participate in summer work that includes periods of one-on-one career mentorship with program partners.

    For additional information on eligibility and how to apply, visit www.forestrycouncil.ca/cpages/ifsp.

    Quotes:

    Louise Bender, Director of People, Mosaic Forest Management:

    “We are proud to partner with the First Nations Forestry Council to provide support to Indigenous forestry students. As a Progressive Aboriginal Relations silver-level certified company, Mosaic’s key objective is to increase representation and opportunities for Indigenous persons in the workplace. The Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program compliments Mosaic’s broader scholarships and training programs and commitment to our First Nations partners.”

    Bob Fleet, Vice-President, Environment and Forestry, Tolko Industries Ltd. (Tolko):

    “Helping Indigenous youth secure an education and career in the forest sector is important to First Nations, the province, and Tolko. We are looking forward to students joining our team and we are pleased to partner with the First Nations Forestry Council to help advance this important program.”

    Jennifer Foster, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Western Forest Products Inc.:

    “We are pleased to partner with the First Nations Forestry Council in support of the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program. This scholarship award supports our broader goal of fostering diversity in our workplace, including through Indigenous employment, as we seek to benefit from a wide range of people and perspectives. Through this well-established program, we look forward to supporting another student launch their career in forestry and providing a rewarding work experience that is mutually-beneficial.”

     

    -   END       -

     

    For media enquiries:
     

    Michael Robach

    Communications Manager

    BC First Nations Forestry Council

    michael@forestrycouncil.ca

    +1 604-971-3448

     

  • (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.

     

    -   END     -

     

    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.”

     

    -  END    -

     

    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