ABITIBI-TÉMISCAMINGUE, QC, CNW — Canada’s forest sector continues to be an important source of employment across the country, including in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. That is why the Government of Canada is investing in projects to equip Indigenous communities with tools to build greener businesses and promote further economic opportunity in the forest sector.

Parliamentary Secretary Paul Lefebvre, on behalf of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced $620,738 in funding allocated to two projects in northern Quebec:

  • A $100,000 investment to the Kebaowek First Nation for a training program that provides one-on-one guidance across a whole range of timber harvesting skills. This program will increase economic development and grow forestry businesses, creating additional full-time employment opportunities within the community.
  • Eagle Villagwe, Kebowek First Nation
  • A $292,000 investment to the Timiskaming First Nation to explore the opportunities to market products foraged from the boreal forest, using traditional knowledge. This funding enables Timiskaming First Nation to collaborate with neighbouring communities to study and map opportunities in wild foods and medicine collection, processing, and market development. It builds on an existing $228,738 investment by Indigenous Services Canada and Natural Resources Canada, which supported the launch of business operations, and efforts by Timiskaming First Nation to share their knowledge of non-timber forest products business development with other Indigenous communities in Quebec and Ontario.
  • Timiskaming First Nation

Funding from Natural Resources Canada is provided through the Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI) program, which supports Indigenous-led economic development opportunities in Canada’s forest sector. By investing in forest sector technologies, we can provide greener solutions that will help tackle climate change and transition toward a low-carbon economy. Funding from Indigenous Services Canada is provided through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI) program, which fosters federal coordination to help Indigenous communities participate in complex economic opportunities.

Today’s announcement builds on Budget 2019 funding of $12.6 million over three years for the IFI program to support Indigenous-owned forest businesses that build capacity and create jobs in communities while helping Indigenous communities increase and diversify their forest sector opportunities. These investments will create employment and increase Indigenous participation in the management of forest resources on their traditional lands.

“These projects will support Indigenous communities’ participation in the forest sector through the development of skills and the use of Indigenous knowledge of plants. They will allow us to find new markets for the many resources in our forests,” said the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.

“As we help assist Indigenous forestry businesses transition to a diversified industry, these projects are terrific examples of local initiatives creating local business on their traditional lands. This is why we must work together to preserve it for future generations while creating economic opportunities today,” said Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.

“Congratulations to Timiskaming First Nation for its dynamism and leadership. Through their Forest Full Value Initiative, community members will be able to take advantage of their traditional knowledge and explore new economic opportunities while developing greater autonomy in the management of their natural resources,” said the Honourable Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services.

“One of Kebaowek’s key goals in any development in the community is to one day become self-sufficient. But without the aid of programs like the Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI), I would not say it would be impossible, but it would be a lot more difficult. Programs like IFI give us the access to funds we need to be able to train our people and build the capacity we need to become active players, and leaders, in our region in industry sectors like forestry,” said Chief Lance Haymond, Kebaowek First Nation.

“Natural Resources Canada has continuously been a major supporter in developing our project, The Wild Basket. The IFI program has enabled us to build capacity and economic potential for the future of Timiskaming First Nation. It has been really rewarding to see the progress we have been making in our community around forest foods. We are happy to create job opportunities for our community members, to enable access to healthy and local traditional foods, to rightfully reclaim the land as our own, and to increase food sovereignty in our nation,” said Elissa Marcil, General Director of Timiskaming First Nation.