There are about 17,000 First Nations people working in Canada’s forest products sector. Maybe that’s why it shouldn’t be a big surprise that the investments we’re making in Northwestern Ontario represent $100 million in new business for six First Nations partners.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was officially signed in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on February 10th, 2015, that sets out a framework for negotiating business contracts related to these investments.
Contracting aboriginal businesses
Originally signed in June 2013, the agreement has yielded contracts for a number of services including:
- Construction at Resolute’s sawmills,
- Transportation for hauling chips, biomass and lumber from the sawmills,
- Yard service to manage the loading and unloading of logs, lumber and by-products, and
- Harvest and delivery work.
Ramping up activities in Northwestern Ontario
We’ve been busy in Northwestern Ontario. There’s the construction of a new sawmill in Atikokan, the upgrade and restart of the idled Ignace sawmill, the production capacity increase at our Thunder Bay sawmill, and the addition of a wood pellet plant at the Thunder Bay site.
To date, we’ve invested C$90 million in these operations. And we expect these investments to create 200 new Resolute jobs and another 200 woodlands operations jobs, in addition to significant indirect employment.
But this agreement goes beyond numbers. It truly underscores the commitment Resolute and its operating communities are making to work together to create jobs and economic opportunity for Northwestern Ontarians.
Supporting First Nation economic goals
“Speaking for all Chiefs here today, this agreement is ground-breaking and incredibly important to our First Nations,” Chief Earl Klyne of the Seine River First Nation said at the signing, adding: “It reflects a balanced approach to sustainability, not only supporting environmental goals, but the social and economic goals of the region as well.”
In attendance at the signing were Chief Windego of Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, Chief White Cloud of Lac des Milles Lacs First Nation, Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer of Resolute, Chief Klyne of Seine River First Nation, Chief Mainville of Couchiching First Nation, Chief Henderson of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, Chief Jordan of Lac La Croix First Nation.
Signaling an upturn for local forestry operations
MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro was also there and reminded attendees not only of Resolute’s proactive work with area First Nations communities and businesses, but also about the broader positive signs of such an investment. “These relationships are beneficial for both Aboriginal communities and for Resolute in signaling an upturn for local forestry operations,” he said.
Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Northern Development and Mines seconded this notion and added that, “Resolute has made significant investments in Northwestern Ontario at a time when there are growing signs of recovery in the forest products sector. As the sawmills ramp up their activity, these operations will help encourage the future prosperity of our Aboriginal communities.”
Front left to right: Chief Will Windigo, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, Chief Judy White Cloud, Lac des Milles Lacs First Nation, Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Resolute Forest Products, Chief Earl Klyne, Seine River First Nation, Chief Sara Mainville, Couchiching First Nation, Chief Janice Henderson, Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, and Chief Norman Jordan, Lac La Croix First Nation
Related article: Resolute and First Nations