Manitoba signs pair of forestry deals with northern First Nations

·2 min read

Two Manitoba First Nations have entered into an agreement with the province to share in the financial benefits brought by the forestry industry in parts of northern Manitoba.

The Manitoba government announced this week they have signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the Chemawawin Cree Nation (CCN) and Norway House Cree Nation (NHCN).

The agreements, according to the province, will see both northern Manitoba communities receive 45% of revenues collected from timber dues “in proximity to those two communities,” retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022.

Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt said the agreements were signed because the two communities should benefit from the timber harvest on their “traditional territory.”

“These MOUs represent another purposeful step forward that our government is taking on the path of reconciliation, as we work to correct past wrongs,” Nesbitt said.

“I am honoured to sign these historic agreements, which will allow CCN and NHCN to now benefit from forestry operations on their traditional territory.”

NHCN is currently one of the largest Indigenous communities in Manitoba, with about 6,500 residents, and its chief, Larson Anderson said he wanted the agreement signed because he believes First Nations people and communities should be benefitting when profit is generated on their traditional land.

“The NHCN chief and council unanimously agreed to move forward with this revenue sharing agreement. I am pleased that the people of my nation will finally start receiving their share of revenues generated from the abundant resources on our traditional territory,” Anderson said.

“The understanding of our treaty with Canada was based on sharing the lands and waters.”

CCN is home to about 1,200 residents, and CCN Chief Clarence Easter said he hopes their agreement will also lead to more partnerships that would see more First Nations communities getting involved in the forestry industry and forestry management in Manitoba.

“I am glad to see the Manitoba government working with First Nations on natural resources development, and we welcome the opportunity to share the benefits,” Easter said.

“In addition to revenue sharing, we look forward to being involved in the development of a sustainable, viable, forest management planning process and economic development in our areas.”

The agreements signed with the two communities are similar to agreements signed with Mosakahiken Cree Nation (MCN) and Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) in August, as part of what the province said is their “ongoing commitment to enhancing Indigenous participation in the forestry sector to ensure everyone benefits from Manitoba’s resources.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun