Working with First Nations

Our operations overlap with numerous First Nations’ traditional territories in British Columbia. We are committed to the development of mutually beneficial opportunities for First Nations participation in our planning and operations, including economic development, procurement, education and employment. 

Examples of successful business arrangements with First Nations, include those with Ktunaxa, Lheidli T’enneh, Moricetown, Cheslatta, McLeod Lake, Bonaparte, Blueberry River, Doig River, Halfway River, Prophet River, Saulteau, Wet’suwet’en and West Moberly First Nations, to name a few. In 2017, the value of our business relationships with First Nation enterprises was $53 million, including various contracts, licenses, logging services, employment, purchase agreements and other business. Our First Nations Working Group continues to make progress in expanding partnerships with First Nations.

Our corporate strategy is built on a foundation of respect for First Nations and an interest in opening up opportunities both through training, employment and business activities, and through understanding of the growing involvement of First Nations in the resource sector. 

Our Aboriginal relationships manager is working with First Nations, the British Columbia government and others in the resource sector to align efforts which, among other things, encourage First Nations involvement in forest sector careers and help industry-First Nations best practices. Our operational teams undertake significant on-the-ground work to consult with First Nations and involve them in our business activities.

We worked with First Nations to develop a three-month First Nations Work Experience Program, which will be introduced in Fort St. John in 2018. Four First Nations individuals will receive valuable work experience and training specific to the forestry industry and trades. They will be trained in workforce readiness, and shadow supervisors at our mills to learn about safety, mill operations and equipment.

Through the Relationship Protocol and Engagement and Benefits Agreement we signed with Ktunaxa Nation Council in 2014, we have provided support for training, given preference to contractors who hire Ktunaxa employees, and donated products and money to support Ktunaxa Nation communities. This included providing enough lumber at wholesale prices to build up to 10 houses to support Akisqnuk First Nation’s community housing needs. The value of our procurement from Ktunaxa businesses was $5.8 million in 2017, compared with $4.2 million in 2014.

In 2017, we sponsored a number of key First Nations activities across British Columbia, including the Kley’ate’ley Documentary, Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s Christmas dinner and Tsay Keh Dene Nation’s Christmas event. We provided lumber for Shuswap Indian Band’s Aboriginal Day raffle and the Lower Kootenay Indian Band’s baseball diamond, and so Ktunaxa Nation could repair Scotty’s House for vulnerable adults. Tsay Keh Dene is a part of our recently signed Agreement. 

Through open communication with First Nations, we benefit from local and traditional knowledge and ensure that areas of cultural importance are managed in a way that retains First Nations traditions and values. Through these discussions, we identify and track culturally important, sacred and spiritual sites so they can be managed appropriately in our forestry planning.

To learn more on Canfor's commitment to increasing the diversity of its workforce and the progress made to increase the participation and advancement of First Nations employees, visit the Diversity section of this report.