Forest Renewal BC
Joint Venture Targets First Nations Jobs
By Bill Tice
Owned 50 per cent by Aspen Planers Ltd. of Merritt, BC and 50 per cent by four local native bands, Qwa'eet Forest Products is a joint venture carrying some high hopes for all involved.
In addition to running a profitable commercial enterprise, Qwa'eet Forest Products went into the new venture with a goal of hiring and training as many First Nations workers as possible, providing they have the appropriate experience and skills, with a view to assisting in the economic well-being of all community members in the Merritt and surrounding areas.
Aspen Planers' goals, hand in hand with forming a profitable economic partnership with local First Nations people, includes securing a fibre source for their Merritt sawmill, which would in turn contribute to the economy in Merritt by maintaining a consistent level of employment. The company is also looking to play a role in the conversion of problem forest types to new stands in order to maintain the long-term timber supply in the Merritt TSA.
For the native bands, there is the same goal of earning a profit to provide the social and economic benefits required to ensure the long-term stability of their communities. The bands also want to obtain significant First Nation's ownership in a forest licence while actively participating in a significant way to the forest industry in the Merritt area; to create job and business opportunities for First Nations people in the areas of forest management, logging, silviculture and manufacturing; and to develop experience in the management of forests while incorporating the traditional native use of the land.
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