A Vancouver Island First Nation and a forestry company will engage in dialogue to identify areas of joint economic opportunity while safeguarding the environment.
The Pacheedaht First Nation, located near Port Renfrew, and Teal Jones have agreed to identify specific forestry, business, commercial, and employment opportunities within the Nation’s traditional territories and pursue them through joint working agreements.
The deal includes developing a world-class integrated resource management plan, known as an IRMP, to ensure responsible stewardship of at-risk species and ecosystems within the Nation’s traditional territories.
The memorandum of understanding, or MOU, covers an area known as Tree Forest Licence 46. The block of Crown land, located between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew, has been the centre of controversy for two years as forest activists fight to save the old-growth forest known as Fairy Creek.
Pacheedaht First Nation Chief Jeff Jones said Teal Jones has consistently demonstrated respect for his community’s rights and values.
“The MOU will build upon our existing relationship and commits us to work together to identify and pursue business endeavours, create new employment and training opportunities for our community members, and ensure our way of life and environment are protected for future generations through an IRMP,” Jones said.
In addition, the deal commits both sides to job and training opportunities in forestry with Pacheedaht First Nation members, recognizes the integrity of forest resources, cultural heritage value and the environment and contributes to the long-term stability of the regional and local economy, mainly through forestry.
“This agreement makes us both stronger,” said Dick Jones, Teal Jones president and co-owner.
“We have long believed businesses have a critical role to play in reconciliation with First Nations on whose traditional territories they work. This agreement reflects our commitment to the Pacheedaht people and to working side-by-side with them to create lasting prosperity through responsible forestry.”
– with files from Black Press Media and The Canadian Press