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

10th year for Great Naramata Cherry Pit Contest

The event is a fun-filled way to celebrate the local harvest

Man arrested in Kelowna following Shuswap vehicle thefts, pursuit

Suspect wanted in Alberta allegdly also stole several vehicles near Sicamous over the weekend

CFSOS wants to hear from community members in Keremeos, Cawston, Olalla and Hedley

Mobility talk will take place in Keremeos on July 24 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is predicting a 30 per cent chance of showers and a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon across the Okanagan

West Kelowna vet saves turtle from hook

Dr. Moshe Oz removed fish hook lodged in the turtle’s throat

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

B.C. adding fast-charge stations for electric highway trips

Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenay stations ready for use

Comedian Gerry Dee ready to lighten things up at BC Hockey Hall of Fame

Canadian actor and stand-up comedian Gerry Dee is hosting the event in Penticton

Casa Loma residents petition to halt proposed Blackmun Bay project

West Kelowna City Council grants second reading for what would be the city’s largest development

The Okanagan’s master tailor from Chile

Sam Galvez started his business 6 years ago and hasn’t stopped loving it

Boat sails from trailer to pavement at Sicamous Highway 97A intersection

Alberta resident charged with transporting insecure load, failing to adequately connect trailer

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Collision with hydro pole cuts power to thousands in the Shuswap

Minor injuries to the driver were reported; power was restored by the following morning

Most Read