The agreement includes creating an integrated resource management plan to protect at-risk species
With a lot of firms extending an olive branch to Indigenous communities around Canada in the past few years, private forestry company Teal Jones claims to have been working on First Nations business development for multiple decades.
The family business, which has been running since 1946, employs over 1,000 people in its woods and sawmill operations throughout B.C. Its Surrey mill and headquarters itself staffs some 500 people.
This week, Teal Jones signed an MoU with the Pacheedaht First Nation to work together in stewarding and preserving land and water in their territory. “Since taking responsibility for managing Tree Farm Licence 46 in our territory in 2004, Teal Jones has consistently demonstrated respect for our rights and values,” said Pacheedaht First Nation Chief Jeff Jones in a release. After years of conversations with the First Nation, this joint agreement is meant to explore economic opportunities relating to forestry, business and employment for both parties.
Over the number of decades that the firm has been operating in the province, it’s had various agreements with over 110 First Nations in B.C. But formalizing an MoU of this scale sets this partnership apart from others.
Teal Jones. Conrad Browne, director of Indigenous partnerships and strategic relations at Teal Jones
“We really anticipate having the Pacheedaht First Nation become more involved in the forest industry,” says Conrad Browne, Teal Jones’ director of Indigenous partnerships and strategic relations. “We’re hoping that we can bring some expertise to their mill operations [including training and salvaging] and help them streamline some of their activities around the mill…we’d really like to see the Pacheedaht continue to grow their role in the forest industry. And by having strong neighbours, partners and owners of the traditional territory, that really helps us out too.”
An essential link in this chain will be the forestry company's commitment to developing an integrated resource management plan (IRMP) that seeks to put the right people in the right place to retain the integrity of the area’s biodiversity, including at-risk species.
“This agreement makes us both stronger,” company president and co-owner Dick Jones added in a release. “We have long believed that businesses have a critical role to play in reconciliation with First Nations on whose traditional territories they work.”