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

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: More than half of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read