In some of the communities in which Resolute Forest Products operates in Canada, Indigenous peoples form a large segment of the population. Resolute recognizes and respects the cultural and social significance of the land, water and forests to Indigenous peoples. We also understand these resources are critical to their future prosperity and economic sustainability. We share a common interest in ensuring that the forests we rely upon continue to provide for cultural, environmental and economic needs of future generations.
Resolute is committed to supporting and maintaining constructive relationships with First Nations and other Indigenous communities in our operating regions in Canada. Our focus is on developing employment and business opportunities of mutual benefit. We have ongoing consultative relationships and business partnerships with close to 40 Indigenous communities and organizations.
Nurturing Constructive Relationships
We are committed to nurturing constructive working relationships with Indigenous peoples, including the need to respect treaties and traditional land rights, to pursue mutually beneficial commercial relationships, and to support socio-economic prosperity and viability.
In 2013, Resolute developed an Indigenous Peoples Policy that outlines our commitment to building strong relationships, ensuring Indigenous communities are consulted in decisions impacting their communities, and developing shared economic prosperity.
In Ontario, Indigenous communities are consulted as part of the development of forest management plans. In Quebec, harvest blocks must be harmonized with Indigenous communities to ensure that any issue they may have is voiced and considered in the finalization of the harvest block prior to granting authorization for logging.
Indigenous communities can also raise issues during third-party certification audits that are reported to the provincial or federal governments and, occasionally, to the public. Resolute conducts internal audits, called direction management reviews, prior to third-party certification audits to help identify, define and track any issues related to Indigenous affairs.
In the majority of our woodlands operations, we use ISO 14001-certified systems to track all incidents, including those involving Indigenous communities. Resolute mostly tracks incidents at the divisional level, as the majority are related to woodlands operations (forestry). These tracking systems were primarily designed to support forest management certification audits and to provide evidence for certification requirements related to Indigenous harmonization. Incidents are brought to the attention of the appropriate parties as soon as possible.
Indigenous Economic Participation in the Forest Products Sector
In keeping with our principles of corporate social, environmental and economic sustainability, Resolute has implemented Indigenous Procurement Policy Guidelines to further strengthen our commitment to Indigenous communities across Ontario and Quebec. Our goal is to provide equitable access to commercial opportunities and to promote the economic participation of Indigenous peoples and businesses in the forest products sector.
Forest Management Planning
Open dialogue between management and Indigenous communities is maintained in all locations where Resolute operations have an impact on Indigenous peoples. Regular meetings are held to discuss topics of mutual importance, such as distribution of harvest zones, energy conservation and noise control, as well as developments of interest to the communities, like new access roads.
We maintain and nurture these relationships through public consultations and cooperative agreements in an effort to create collaborative approaches and to foster sustainable economic activities. These public consultations are an essential step in the sustainable and responsible forest management planning process. Resolute actively engages Indigenous peoples in the review of our harvesting plans to ensure that the company accounts for local cultural, environmental, social and economic considerations.
While industry is often called upon to participate in discussions, in Canada the legal responsibility to consult with Indigenous peoples and harmonize forest management practices with their traditional land uses lies with government. Within this framework, Resolute collaborates with Indigenous peoples and governments to promote constructive discussions that we hope lead to long-term solutions.
Maintaining Relationships with Indigenous Peoples
In Ontario, the company maintains close ties with 18 Indigenous Nations and collaborates on the development of mutually acceptable management plans for the areas where we operate. In Quebec, Resolute regularly engages with 11 different Indigenous communities to harmonize our operating plans with their traditional land use practices.
In one case, agreements were briefly delayed when the Algonquins of Barrière Lake in Quebec sent a statement to the provincial government concerning a lack of consultation over logging permits issued for the area in 2012. These consultations are carried out by government representatives, with or without the involvement of Resolute. Discussions on harmonization have continued with success, and harvest allocations have been released to the industry.
Mutually Beneficial Initiatives
Resolute has a number of partnerships with members of Indigenous communities. These include working together to identify employment and contracting opportunities, providing support for educational programs and cultural-landmark mapping, and collaborating on agreements, planning, road construction and forest regeneration. The following examples illustrate what is possible when we join forces on sustainable initiatives.
Resolute has signed memorandums of agreement with several First Nations in Ontario that have yielded economic activity with mutual benefits: construction work at Resolute’s sawmills; transportation of wood chips, biomass and lumber from the sawmills; yard services to manage the loading and unloading of logs, lumber and by-products; and log harvesting and delivery.
Multi-year contracts in excess of C$100 million have been awarded resulting from Resolute’s Northwestern Ontario investments in the Atikokan and Ignace sawmills, as well as from the production capacity increase at the Thunder Bay sawmill and the addition of a wood pellet plant at the Thunder Bay site. These contracts are in addition to existing agreements, worth approximately C$50 million a year, at other operations in the regionn.
The nations that are parties to these memorandums include:
Between 2019 and 2020, we also signed memorandums of agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario as well as Whitesand First Nation in order to establish a structure for ongoing cooperation and to develop additional agreements and projects between the parties.
In the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, Resolute worked with the Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan First Nation of Mashteuiatsh and the Government of Quebec to complete a consolidation project after the company’s Roberval sawmill closed in 2014. As a result, over 50% of the Roberval wood allocation was transferred to the community of Mashteuiatsh, while the remainder went to our La Doré and Saint-Félicien sawmills. In 2018, we signed a five-year agreement with the First Nation for access to approximately 250,000 m3 of wood fiber per year.
Resolute also signed an agreement with the Council of the Innu of Pessamit in June 2015. Titled "A Balance Between the Protection of Nitassinan and Economic Development," the collaboration will lead to the recruitment, training and hiring of Innu labor. Members of the Pessamit community will benefit from a range of job opportunities at Resolute operations. The agreement will also lead to investment in Innu businesses in the forest, biofuel and wildlife industries.
In 2020, we renewed our agreement with Kitigan Zibi First Nation for access to approximately 151,900 m3 of wood fiber in the Outaouais region.
In addition, Resolute has signed memorandums of agreement with Lac-Simon and Waswanipi First Nations in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.
Partnerships and Ventures
- Our Thunder Bay (Ontario) sawmill, which operates under a unique business model with Resolute and the Fort William First Nation, is the first facility in Canada to work under regulations created under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, which facilitates industrial development with First Nations on their land.
- The Opitciwan (Quebec) sawmill is a unique joint venture that has operated successfully since 1999. The Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan has a 55% interest in the joint venture, while Resolute owns 45%. In September 2013, the sawmill was awarded the prestigious Aboriginal Business Leadership Award by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), among other awards received from the Royal Bank of Canada and Industry Canada in the early 2000s.
- Through our ongoing partnership with the community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, we carry out forest management and harvesting activities and pay a stumpage fee in exchange for volumes allocated to the First Nation by the Quebec government.
Creating Opportunities for Indigenous Youth
Resolute recognizes the importance of fostering long-term prosperity for Indigenous communities through the creation of opportunities for young people in the communities where we operate.
- In 2015, we helped set up and contributed financially toward the creation of a Leadership Chair in Indigenous Education in Forestry, a new program aimed at strengthening employment opportunities in Indigenous communities in Quebec.
- In 2016, we signed memorandums of agreement with Confederation College in Thunder Bay (Ontario) and with the Anishinabek Employment & Training Service (AETS), an Indigenous employment and training organization that supports Indigenous peoples who are transitioning into the workforce.
- In 2018, we also announced a C$150,000 contribution over five years to Confederation College’s Technology, Education and Collaboration (TEC) Hub Campaign that will help support the state-of-the art training center for Thunder Bay, best-in-class training opportunities for the region’s youth, and the development of a growing pool of highly educated talent ready to begin careers in the forest products sector.
- In 2020, we also launched a youth employment and training program in partnership with Wabigoon First Nation, which includes a $24,978 contribution from Resolute, as part of our agreement with the community.