October 20, 2021 – Campbell River, British Columbia – Nanwakolas Council and Western Forest Products Inc. (Western) are pleased to announce the completion of a Letter of Understanding (LOU) to develop a Joint Planning and Reconciliation Protocol Agreement. Under this comprehensive agreement, the parties will work towards co-developing an Integrated Resource Management Plan (IMRP) and mutually beneficial business solutions in support of economic reconciliation.
Through the IRMP process, the parties intend to work closely together to jointly develop a collaborative approach to sustainable forest management in the traditional territories of the member First Nations on central Vancouver Island.
Based on the identification of common and shared interests, the parties will explore options for long-term business partnerships that continue to support local communities and advance BC-based sawmilling and value-added manufacturing. Through the protocol agreement, the parties may propose joint solutions to the BC government to advance reconciliation with Indigenous communities while advancing BC’s leadership in the sustainable management of forests.
“This agreement builds on our 2020 Information Sharing Protocol and Large Cultural Cedar Declaration,” said Dallas Smith, President of the Nanwakolas Council. “The joint planning process will implement the parties’ shared commitment to promote healthy and resilient forests and establish workable solutions for economic reconciliation that support good paying jobs necessary for vibrant communities.”
The Nanwakolas Council and Western will consider relevant information and work together to include the values of Indigenous communities, employing leading experts to design and implement new approaches to old forest management considering all 14 recommendations of the BC Old Forest Review – inclusive of a joint and balanced approach to old forest deferrals.
“Nanwakolas and Western will work together on developing a long-term view that supports sustainable and economic access to the full forest profile while incorporating the values and interests of the Nanwakolas Council Member Nations in designing the shared management approach,” said Shannon Janzen, Western’s Vice President, Partnerships & Sustainability and Chief Forester. “The Nations and Western intend to apply science-based and data driven approaches in concert with traditional Indigenous knowledge consistent with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. This collaborative approach builds upon similar initiatives in other areas of the coast and we are excited to work with Nanwakolas on a Joint Planning and Reconciliation Protocol Agreement.”
For the purposes of this LOU, Nanwakolas Council represents Tlowitsis, K’ómoks, Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai First Nations. Several Western forest tenures, including TFL 39 (Blocks 2, 3 and 5), TFL 25 (Block 2), and TFL 37, overlap with the Nations’ traditional territories. In recent years, the Nations and Western have engaged in several innovative projects, including implementation of the Nanwakolas Large Cultural Cedar Declaration and the Information Sharing Protocol. Development of the joint plan may include opportunities to amend it to engage with other Nanwakolas Council Member Nations.
About Nanwakolas Council
The Nanwakolas Council provides its member First Nations with advocacy and information services, technical support, coordination, and advice to assist them in their decision-making work. That work includes reviewing applications for provincial tenures and permits referred to the member First Nation for their decision and watching over Aweenak’ola through the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network. Through Nanwakolas Council, the member First Nations come together to make decisions on matters in which they share common interests. They unite to uphold their Aboriginal rights and title, using the powerful collective voice on the Nanwakolas Council. The Nanwakolas Council engages with governments, industry, and partners of the member First Nations to protect the rights of the First Nations, and to ensure they are honoured and respected. For more information – www.nanwakolas.com
About Western Forest Products Inc.
Western is an integrated forest products company building a margin-focused log and lumber business to compete successfully in global softwood markets. With operations and employees located primarily on the coast of British Columbia and Washington State, Western is a premier supplier of high-value, specialty forest products to worldwide markets. Western has a lumber capacity in excess of 1.0 billion board feet from seven sawmills and four remanufacturing facilities. The Company sources timber from its private lands, long-term licenses, First Nations arrangements, and market purchases. Western supplements its production through a wholesale program providing customers with a comprehensive range of specialty products.
This press release contains statements that may constitute forward-looking statements under the applicable securities laws. Readers are cautioned against placing undue reliance on forward-looking statements. All statements herein, other than statements of historical fact, may be forward-looking statements and can be identified by references to future periods. Although such statements reflect management’s current reasonable beliefs, expectations and assumptions, there can be no assurance that forward-looking statements are accurate, and actual results or performance may materially vary. Many factors could cause our actual results or performance to be materially different, including factors referenced under the “Risks and Uncertainties” section of our MD&A in our 2020 Annual Report dated February 18, 2021.
For further information, please contact:
Dallas Smith, President, Nanwakolas Council
Senior Director, Communications, Western