Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council tours a library rebuilt after the 2011 Japan tsunami

Indigenous forest industry looks to Pacific Rim

#BCForestFuture series: Carrier Sekani chief joins forest trade mission to Asia, where cultural ties and business are intertwined

NATORI CITY, JAPAN – If there is one certainty about the future of the B.C. forest industry, it is the growing participation of indigenous people whose traditional territories take in most of the Crown land in the province.

Aboriginal leaders assumed responsibility for ecosystem-based harvesting in the Great Bear Rainforest agreement, mapping out protected areas with the B.C. government. And around the province, more than 100 forest harvest licences have been assigned to aboriginal communities as a step toward treaties.

Now an aboriginal leader has joined the province’s annual forest industry trade mission to Asia, where cultural ties and business are intertwined by long tradition.

Terry Teegee is a registered professional forester, a member of the Takla Lake First Nation and tribal chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, representing eight reserve communities in the Prince George area. He spoke with Black Press as he toured a public library built with Canada Wood, B.C. and Canadian government sponsorship to replace one wiped out by the 2011 tsunami that devastated the east coast of Japan.

“I’m here to assist the province in terms of promoting B.C. forest products, Canadian forest products, which we’re very much involved with because we hold tenures, we have companies,” Teegee said. “We do have ownership of mills. That’s what basically drives our economy too.”

Carrier Sekani member communities run logging companies to supply fibre to local mills.

Burns Lake Native Development Corp. is partner with Oregon-based Hampton Affiliates in Babine Forest Products, whose sawmill was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2012.

And after Oregon-based Pope & Talbot went bankrupt in 2007, a new company called Conifex took over its sawmills at Fort St. James and later Mackenzie.

Conifex CEO Ken Shields said the company has unique relationships with aboriginal communities. When the company restarted the Fort St. James operation in 2008, the Nak’azdli, Tl’azt’en and Takla Lake First Nations were original shareholders as well as employees.

When the company took over the Mackenzie operations in 2010, it made commercial arrangements with the three communities in the harvest area, Kwadacha, Tsay Keh Dene and the McLeod Lake Indian Band, which has its own logging and construction companies.

Conifex buys roadbuilding timbers from the small mill at Kwadacha and sponsors education programs in Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene, both remote communities on Williston Lake.

Conifex started up a 36-megawatt biomass power plant at its Mackenzie facilities last year. The company is shifting to process more balsam and spruce as the supply of lodgepole pine declines due to beetle impact, said Hans Thur, vice-president of sales and marketing.

Japan is Conifex’s third largest market by volume and buys high-quality lumber, Thur said. Lower-grade pine is currently sold to Chinese buyers, with stiff competition from Russia where the ruble has been devalued.

Just Posted

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Port Alberni council looking at nearly 4% tax increase for 2019

Policing, bridge rehabilitation and impending cruise ship visits all jostling for funding

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Australian woman killed in avalanche while snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but the woman died in hospital

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

Regulator’s report unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline expansion battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Most Read