Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins (left) and Yunesit’in Band Councillor Gabe Pukacz (right) met with Armajeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Tuesday in Williams Lake to talk about the success of programs in their communities that received federal funding previously. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins (left) and Yunesit’in Band Councillor Gabe Pukacz (right) met with Armajeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Tuesday in Williams Lake to talk about the success of programs in their communities that received federal funding previously. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Federal minister announces Indigenous participation in forest sector in Williams Lake

The funding was approved two years ago, and Sohi was in Williams Lake to celebrate the projects’ successes

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi, was in Williams Lake Tuesday to follow up on a multi-year $321,500 investment in two Indigenous forestry projects in British Columbia that created jobs and boosted the economy.

Sohi said when the funding was originally approved two years ago he did not have the opportunity to travel to the region to make the formal announcement.

“We approved the funding then so they could move on with their training opportunities and business opportunities,” he told the Tribune. “Now that we are here, we thought we’d celebrate the two projects and celebrate with the communities.”

The first investment of $173,500 helped the Yune’sit’in Government support the business planning of an Indigenous-owned milling operation. The project, in partnership with Tolko Industries Ltd. and the Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Employment Centre, helped workers with training and business plan development to take advantage of new opportunities in the forestry sector.

Yunesit’in band councillor Gabe Pukacz said the funding opportunity was a long-time coming for his community with industry doing the resource removal for decades in traditional caretaker areas.

“Thanks NARCAN for helping us turn an idea into a reality,” he said. “We wanted to see more dollars staying within our communities, we wanted to manage our forests while protecting our lands and also mill our timber and putting quality wood products back in our community, instilling pride, and a good feeling.”

The community emerged from the project with a business plan proving its viability to move forward, Pukacz said.

“Our Forest to Frame starts with us on the ground identifying and laying out of timber, a small scale logging operation, milling and marketing of lumber from our own portable sawmill, building materials for our own homes and other projects in our community.”

Read more: Yunesit’in greenhouse celebrates open house

The second investment of $148,000 helped train Esk-etemc First Nation community members in forest management, environmental monitoring, business development and safety and first aid, thus providing knowledge to support the community’s forestry-based economic development.

“Community members gained skills that will support the community forest resource industry and economic development in the future,” said Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins.

Several community members went through the program and are moving forward in the industry, he added.

“Jonathan Hutchison has started his own contracting business and has his own skidder and is now looking at small scale salvage for our community forest,” he said, noting another community member is now looking at “infrastructure in the community and the environmental pieces behind that.”

Both projects were funded by the Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFA) that is part of our government’s Softwood Lumber Action.

Sohi said the funding continues to be available through IFA through Natural Resources Canada for innovative investments and training opportunities across Canada.

“This is part of our overall effort that we are putting forward to improve the economy and growing our forest sector and opportunities for rural and Indigenous communities.”

As for the Softwood Lumber Agreement, Sohi said it’s an ongoing dispute.

“We are defending industry and will continue to defend our industry and we have a program that supports industry through loans and offers protection if the need arises.”

On Monday evening, Sohi met informally with some locals at a cafe to discuss the region’s economy and challenges, he said.

READ MORE: First Nations collaborating to rehabilitate forests


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi in Williams Lake Tuesday. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi in Williams Lake Tuesday. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Esketemc Chief Fred Robbins, Yunesit’in band councillor Gabe Pukacz, Esk’etemc economic development officer Ashley George, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi, Williams Lake mayor Walt Cobb and Tolko manager of external and stakeholder relations Tom Hoffman were present at the Ramada Hotel in Williams Lake Tuesday morning to follow up on two multi-year Indigenous forestry partnerships. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Esketemc Chief Fred Robbins, Yunesit’in band councillor Gabe Pukacz, Esk’etemc economic development officer Ashley George, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi, Williams Lake mayor Walt Cobb and Tolko manager of external and stakeholder relations Tom Hoffman were present at the Ramada Hotel in Williams Lake Tuesday morning to follow up on two multi-year Indigenous forestry partnerships. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Just Posted

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake’s Robert Webster, who helps operate the organization’s Parking Lot Clothing Drive, and Angela Kadar, executive director, collect clothing at BBBSWL’s new, permanent cargo trailer location at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds infield. BBBSWL will be at the infield parking lot from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday until the fall collecting soft goods including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, outerwear, boots, shoes, hats, mittens, scarves, ties, socks, purses, wallets, bags, bedding, towels and jewellery. Kadar thanked the Williams Lake Stampede Association for being so accommodating and for allowing them to use the space to park the trailer. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake Parking Lot Clothing Drive gets new, permanent location

BBBSWL will be at the Stampede infield parking lot from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday

Williams Lake Stampeders forward Dylan Richardson thwarts a Quesnel Kangaroos defender as he skates in for a shot on goal during the 2019/20 Central Interior Hockey League season. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Stampeders plan post pandemic return to ice in Williams Lake

The eight-team Central Interior Hockey League includes franchises in Quesnel and Williams Lake

Interior Health’s mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic will be at the 150 Mile House Fire Department on Wednesday, June 23 for people to receive their first dose of the vaccine. (Monica Lamb-Yorski
Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic slated for 150 Mile House June 23

The clinic is for people who have not received a first dose

Drivers continue to go through rough areas on Highway 20 where repairs have been made to address areas impacted by a historical slide. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Highway 20, Dog Creek Road repairs won’t be completed until later this summer

Geotechnical and hydrotechnical investigation continues

Mackey Pierce stands with two of the four paintings she has in the Cariboo Art Society exhibit at the Station House Gallery. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Art Society member exhibit June show at Station House Gallery

Title ‘This and That’, the show reflects the art of 11 members

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read