THUNDER BAY, ON – Officials from the Agoke Development Limited Partnership (ADLP) are continuing efforts to secure a meaningful role within Canada’s Indigenous forestry sector within the Ogoki Forest in northwestern Ontario, calling for support for their business plan for interim management.

ADLP officials met in early June to discuss their approach towards their goal. “Agoke Development Limited Partnership intends to take a lead role in forest management for the Ogoki Forest. This includes forest management planning, harvesting, road construction, forest renewal, and monitoring, recognizing that there may be supportive partners like forestry companies and investors involved in these activities,” said Mark Bell, president, Agoke Development.

Having met with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Minister McGarry on March 7, 2017, the ADLP is currently seeking an interim arrangement while they proceed with developing a new management model that includes taking the lead on the development the next 10-year plan for the Ogoki Forest as the main proponent. They have prepared a business plan that lays out the strategy to this effect.

The ADLP is a result of a co-operation agreement signed on March 27, 2015 by Aroland, Eabametoong and Marten Falls First Nations (members of Matawa First Nations Management) to work together in obtaining a long-term forest license for the Ogoki Forest.

The forest is located 400 km northeast of Thunder Bay immediately east of the Wabakimi Provincial Park and is approximately 10,900 km² in size. It is in the traditional territories of these First Nations within James Bay Treaty No. 9.

“We are prepared to roll-out our business plan to get this done. Our First Nations have an 80-90 per cent unemployment rate and the Ogoki Forest can change that significantly. We propose this as a solution and as an opportunity for reconciliation,” said Jason Rasevych, economic development advisor, Matawa, and interim general manager, Agoke Development.

Since its incorporation, ADLP has made strides in working towards its goal by securing a Forest Resource (FR) license to harvest fibre currently moving to the Longlac Lumber Inc. sawmill and is looking at other opportunities. It has also successfully managed and administered provincial road funding. Currently, it is in discussions with regional consuming mills to identify wood flow.

As a FR licensee, ADLP is active in the forest management planning process through its input in the selection of harvest blocks during the preparation of the Ogoki Forest 2017-2018 Annual Work Schedule and is working on a plan to restart the sawmill in Nakina that could bring long-term economic development to the region.

Shown above are Mark Bell, Agoke Development LP (middle) and Jason Rasevych, Matawa First Nations (right).