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First Nations, municipalities and industry stakeholders form forestry alliance

Group said it formed to “defend way of life”
Stakeholders concerned for the future of the forestry industry in rural and Northern Ontario announced on Jan. 18 they have formed an alliance. (File photo)

Indigenous communities, municipalities and other Northern leaders and organizations have formed an alliance to promote forestry in Northern and rural Ontario.

On Jan. 18, the group, which goes simply by “the Alliance,” issued a press release indicating its concern about the province’s proposed policies on species at risk and the Endangered Species Act, and how they could impact the forest sector across Northern and rural communities across Ontario.

“In light of reconciliation and economic sustainability, we as First Nations and non-First Nations must rally in support of one another to defend our shared forestry interests and lands unique to Northern and rural Ontario through a working alliance, forged on the principles of unity, strength and prosperity,” said Seine River First Nation Chief Thomas Johnson Jr. in the release.

“Our collective action reaches beyond today by working to secure a sustainable future for the generations to come. As the chief of Seine River, I stand in solidarity with the Alliance. I am calling all treaty partners to join and support us in moving the reconciliation agenda forward.”

Jamie Lin, president and CEO of the Ontario Forestry Industries Association (OFIA), said the sector needs “workable provincial and federal policy” in order to maintain industry jobs.

“Workable provincial and federal policy developed with input from stakeholders, rights holders, practitioners, and professional foresters will maintain and grow good-paying jobs in Northern and rural Ontario,” she said.

“Members of the Alliance are committed to increasing sustainable harvesting, growing their local economies while continuing to respect science-based environmental values.”

The group said it was hopeful when former Natural Resources Minister Kathryn McGarry announced a delay of species at risk forestry prescriptions in August.

But with little information being provided since then, and a recent cabinet shuffle in the provincial government, the Alliance said it’s left “wondering what decisions have been made in the meantime.”