The Canadian Forestry Association (CFA) and the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF/IFC) presented the community of Constance Lake First Nation, the Town of Hearst and the Municipality of Mattice-Val Côté with the “Forest Capital of Canada” award for 2015 and 2016 in a well-attended designation ceremony on Thursday, May 7th, coinciding with the Hearst Legion Springfest.

“The forestry industry is an important economic driver in Ontario and for Hearst, Constance Lake First Nation and Mattice-Val Côté to be named the forest Capital of Canada for 2015-2017 reflects that,” said Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “I want to extend my congratulations to these communities for all their hard work and their contribution to the forestry sector.”

“It’s an honour to be recognized as one of the three communities receiving the Forest Capital of Canada designation. We were all very pleased with the turn out and support from the community during the official announcement and look forward to the events and programs that will collectively take place over the next two years”, said Chief of Constance Lake First Nation, Fred Sackaney.

Constance Lake First Nation, Hearst and Mattic-Val Côté are located in the heart of Northern Ontario, approximately 7 hours north of Sault Ste. Marie. They are vibrant communities of approximately 7 000 people, whose citizens take pride in supporting their local economy and sustaining their forested landscape and ecosystems through sustainable forest management practices.

“This region of Ontario has been built around forestry. The local economy is still strongly based on the forest sector, which practices sustainability that is part of a northern way of life in living off the land. From on-the-ground operations to wood-based construction to hunting and fishing, people are closely connected to the forest here. We are very pleased to help recognize the accomplishments of these communities,” said Dana Collins, Executive Director of the CIF.

The tradition of naming a Forest Capital of Canada began in the 1970s, and is intended to celebrate and recognize a community or a region for its connectivity to the forest. The Forest Capital of Canada program focuses on the valuable role forests play in the socioeconomic and environmental health of our communities – past, present, and future.

The recognition ceremony, one of several special forestry events planned for the year, was attended by Mr. Fred Sackaney, Chief of Constance Lake First Nation, Mr. Conrad Morin, Town of Hearst Councillor and Mr. Réjean Mitron, representative of the Municipality of Mattice Val-Côté who received framed certificates from Canadian Governor General David Johnston, the patron of the CFA.

Many dignitaries were in attendance including Miss Carol Hughes, Member of Parliament for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, Mr. Steve Osawa, Hearst District Manager for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Mr. Denis Cheff, Executive Director of Hearst Forest Management Inc., and, from Constance Lake First Nation, Elder M. Stanley Stephens as well as the members of the Drum Group “Face in the Cloud”, John Munroe, Austin Baxter and Donny Jr. Sutherland.