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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)