NORTH ISLAND GAZETTE — A historic agreement has been announced where the Wuikinuxv First Nation (Wuikinuxv) will acquire a forest license in the Great Bear Rainforest Timber Supply Area from Interfor Corporation (Interfor).

This tenure transfer was approved by the Province of British Columbia under the Bill 22 Forest Amendment Act and builds on a long-term partnership between Wuikinuxv and Interfor.

More than six years in the making, the acquisition triples the forest tenure held by the Wuikinuxv. Substantive benefits from forestry development will now flow to the nation. In addition, the nation has assumed a controlling interest in managing forestry operations throughout the Territory.

Wuikinuxv Chief Councillor Danielle Shaw noted in a statement to media that the nation “strives to balance conservation with economic opportunities within our territory. With the purchase of this forest license, we are able to ensure harvest consistent with ecosystem-based management and responsible stewardship”.

Wuikinuxv has lived continuously in Rivers Inlet since time immemorial. In the past, Wuikinuxv thrived on the abundant resources of Rivers Inlet and the lands surrounding Oweekeno Lake. However, development in the territory over the past century has extracted fish and timber leaving little return to the Wuikinuxv people.

Councillor Jennifer Walkus said that for decades “companies logged at Oweekeno Lake and in our inlet. We could see the logs going past our village and disappearing down the inlet but our community did not benefit.”

Advancements in the Wuikinuxv’s treaty negotiations with British Columbia and Canada, as well as relationship development with Interfor, has led to a shift that is yielding results. With 100,000 m3 of volume now under its control, Wuikinuxv has the ability to sustain a viable business on terms that are consistent with its overarching commitment to stewardship.

The tenure purchase marks a milestone in the relationship between Wuikinuxv and Interfor.

Ralph Friedrich, Vice President Coastal Operations of Interfor said that after working on joint forestry projects with Wuikinuxv over the past 10 years, “we are looking forward to continuing working with its forestry corporation, Kvamua, on forestry operations in the Wuikinuxv Territory. This tenure transfer is an exciting time for the Wuikinuxv Nation and Interfor and reaffirms Interfor’s commitment to continue building on our partnership with Wuikinuxv and other Indigenous Peoples throughout British Columbia to enable them to become full partners in the forest sector.”

Wuikinuxv and Interfor will continue to leverage the benefits of pooling resources and working together on forestry projects in Wuikinuxv Territory. Meanwhile, Wuikinuxv continues on the path to re-establishing economic independence and jurisdiction over its lands and resources.

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