A successful and growing partnership between two First Nations communities in the Cariboo Chilcotin is the recipient of a 2018 BC Indigenous Business Award.
Cariboo Aboriginal Forestry Enterprises (CAFE) – formed two and half years ago by the communities of Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) and Tl’esqox (Toosey) — will be awarded a 2018 Outstanding Business Achievers award at a gala on Monday, Oct. 15 in Vancouver.
“It is unique because it is two different nations working together — Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in,” said Gord Chipman, a registered professional forester who initiated the partnership and manages it with Craig Kennedy from Chilcotin Plateau Enterprises (CPE).
Chipman is also the forest manager for Alkali Resource Management (ARM) and Eniyud Community Forest in the Chilcotin.
“Normally most partnerships are between some large company and some First Nations company, but this one is 100 per cent owned by First Nations,” he said.
The working relationship demonstrates that different communities can work together for mutual benefits, he added, noting the intent has been to build a relationship between two different communities that share the same territory and build capacity within the communities.
CAFE is managing 41,000 hectares of forest in the Chilcotin Military Training Area and there are overlaps from several different communities, although the two closest are Esk’etemc and Tl’esqox.
“Last year about 12,000 hectares burned in the 2017 wildfire so we started salvaging timber while it was still worth something,” Chipman said.
The partnership also offers training at the Old School Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek on a regular basis.
Before the 2017 wildfires, CAFE purchased some heavy equipment, including a backhoe, dump truck and firewood processor.
“We produced over 800 cords of firewood last winter and with that provided firewood to Toosey and Alkali. We’re just starting to build the business up to sell it more widely. We bought a second processor and should be able to start selling firewood by the beginning of October.”
They installed the processor in West Fraser Plywood plant’s yard and processed logs the plant couldn’t use.
“We are going to have a number of different locations for the firewood but there are a lot of rules we have to follow before we can get that set up. We can easily produce 10 cords in a day with one processor.”
Recently 23 individuals completed a danger tree assessing course at the Old School that was opened up to all the different communities in the area and during the second and third week of September they offered a silviculture surveying course.
The logging companies they hire are First Nations, including Tsideldel Enterprises, Deadwood Contracting and Eco-link Forestry Services.
“We look for opportunities that people would be interested in training for.,” Chipman said. “We try to manage the federal lands for future generations.”
CAFE has a board of directors — Bill Chelsea representing ARM (Alkali Resources Management), Jason Garland representing Chilcotin Plateau Enterprises Ltd. — and receives “very good support” from chiefs of the two communities.
Mark Runge, West Fraser woods manager, nominated CAFE for the award.
“We work a lot with CAFE and have purchased timber from them, harvested from the military reserve,” Runge said.
“They’ve also got a lot of great training programs.”
Launched in 2008 to honour and celebrate business excellence, the Indigenous Business Awards program will recognize 16 Indigenous businesses, entrepreneurs, partnership entities and community-owned enterprises this year.
Members of the 2018 jury panel included Brenda Baptiste, Louis de Jaeger, Laurie Sterritt and Laara Yaghujaanas.
The BC Indigenous Business Awards are presented by the BC Achievement Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and generously supported by New Relationship Trust, Teck, TD, BC Hydro, CN, Enbridge, Encana, FortisBC, Vancity and Western Forest Products.
An independent foundation established and endowed in 2003 by the Province of British Columbia, the BC Achievement