Last week I signed two agreements with the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC), whose traditional territory is home to our operations in the East Kootenay region. Combined, the two agreements define the working relationship between Canfor and the Ktunaxa; a relationship that both parties can be proud of, and which is based on mutual respect and understanding.
Last week’s Supreme Court of Canada decision (Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia) has placed great responsibility on the Province and industry to consult and negotiate with First Nations regarding land and resource use within their traditional territories. As an underlying principle of our agreements with the Ktunaxa, Canfor recognizes their aboriginal rights and will work co-operatively with the KNC to ensure that our operations do not unjustifiably infringe upon those rights and title, and to ensure that their interests are still accommodated if infringements do occur.
To accomplish this, it is crucial that the Ktunaxa be meaningfully involved in resource development activities, including planning, management, and decision-making. That is why Canfor and the KNC will continue to engage and consult with one another to oversee the implementation of our agreement and share information. Both parties have goals and principles that are similar in many respects, and recognize each other as having a vital role to play in economic growth within Ktunaxa traditional territory. For their part, the Ktunaxa recognize our authorized use of forest resources within their traditional territory.
On behalf of Canfor, I would like to extend our deepest thanks Kathryn Teneese, Chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, as well as her negotiating team, for their role in making this agreement possible. I would also like to credit our predecessor, Tembec Inc., with establishing similar agreements that were in place when we acquired our East Kootenay operations, agreements that initiated the exceptional relationship that we enjoy today.
We look forward to continuing and expanding our business ties, and especially our cultural understanding.