A ceremony marking the transfer of forest tenure from Interfor to the Simpcw First Nation was held on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Pictured, left to right, are Interfor chief forester Stuart Card, Simpcw First Nation Councillor Ron Lampeau Jr., Interfor woodlands manager Erik Kok, Chief Shelley Loring and Couns. Tina Donald and Allison Green. (Contributed)

A ceremony marking the transfer of forest tenure from Interfor to the Simpcw First Nation was held on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Pictured, left to right, are Interfor chief forester Stuart Card, Simpcw First Nation Councillor Ron Lampeau Jr., Interfor woodlands manager Erik Kok, Chief Shelley Loring and Couns. Tina Donald and Allison Green. (Contributed)

B.C. First Nation takes over forest tenure in ‘landmark agreement’ with Interfor

Simpcw First Nation given forest tenure under two licences in Kamloops timber supply area

A new agreement with a lumber manufacturer gives an Interior B.C. First Nation forest tenure under two licences in the Kamloops timber supply area.

The Simpcw First Nation (Simpcw) announced on Wednesday, Nov. 24, that it had completed the landmark agreement with the Interfor Corporation (Interfor).

The agreement also provides for the development of a stewardship agreement within Simpcwúlecw (Simpcw Territory, which spans from McLure to north of McBride, and from Jasper to the headwaters of the Athabasca), in connection with Interfor’s operations that will facilitate joint stewardship of the tmicw (land) and resources, and a long-term business relationship.

A Nov. 24 media release from the Simpcw states the B.C. government has approved the transaction, and that the agreement is precedent-setting in Simpcwúl̓ecw, demonstrating the positive results that come from Indigenous Nations and industry pursuing relationships based on mutual respect.

“This is part of the shift that needs to happen,” commented Shelly Loring, Chief of Simpcw. “Redistributing forest tenures to Title holders and creating solid relationships with licensees provides for collaborative strategic planning and management of the resources in a way that recognizes and respects our mutual rights, values and interests.”

“This tenure transfer reflects Interfor’s support for ongoing progress on reconciliation in British Columbia,” said Stuart Card, Interfor’s Chief Forester. “We are proud to play a role in supporting the growth of the Simpcw First Nation’s Forest operations and look forward to continuing to work together in a spirit of partnership.”

Read more: Redistributing B.C. forest licences a long-term project, Horgan says

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According to the Nov. 24 media release, Simpcw and Interfor have been in discussions since 2019, when Canfor announced its agreement to sell $60 million in forestry assets in Simpcw Territory to Interfor. This followed Canfor’s announcement of the permanent closure of its nearby sawmill in Vavenby.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to reach common ground with Interfor and the result will see tenure in our hands, and long-term economic opportunities and benefits to our community, people and to the North Thompson valley,” said Loring.

Loring said Simpcw recognizes the role the B.C. government played in facilitating the transaction but noted there is a long way to go to fulfill the Province’s commitments to reconciliation.

Simpcw holds numerous tenures in its territory through its economic development corporation, Simpcw Resources LLP.

“We continue to grow and demonstrate successful and sustainable timber harvesting,” said George Lampreau, Councillor of Simpcw. “We manage our forest resources differently – it’s not just about making money but ensuring our tmicw and resources are preserved for our future generations.”

In the Shuswap, Interfor operates its Adams Lake Division sawmill and woodlands.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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First Nationsforestry