November 24, 2022 - Waswanipi, Quebec - In rural, remote and Indigenous communities across the country, the Canadian forest sector continues to play a significant role in maintaining and creating good jobs.
The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), on behalf of the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, with Irene Neeposh, Chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, Paul Gull, President of the Mishtuk Corporation, and Michel Filion, Chief Operating Officer of Chantiers Chibougamau, today announced a $20-million investment, including a $4.7-million federal investment, to support the upgrade and restart of the Cree Forestry Project in Waswanipi, Quebec.
This is a unique partnership between Mishtuk Corporation and Chantiers Chibougamau, a private firm in the region that operates forestry products facilities.
The funding will support business and partnership planning for a more economically sustainable upgrade to the facility and site and for equipment reconditioning. The recommissioned facility will also produce mill-finished timber for retail markets with a focus on addressing the housing shortage in the Cree region of Quebec.
By creating 30 jobs in the region, the project will contribute to the growth and socio-economic development of the Cree community of Waswanipi by utilizing local natural resources responsibly and sustainably.
A first financial contribution in the amount of $2.3-million comes from Natural Resources Canada’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI), which provides financial support to Indigenous-led economic development projects in Canada’s forest sector. Benefits of the program include:
increased Indigenous participation in forestry-related opportunities, businesses, careers and governance;
increased engagement and economic development for Indigenous communities and peoples involved in the forest sector; and
increased investment and collaboration between Indigenous Peoples and other natural resource development stakeholders, including governments, industry and non-governmental organizations.
CED is also providing a $2.4-million repayable contribution to enable the Cree Lumber Limited Partnership to increase its productivity by acquiring and modernizing equipment. The funding announced today has been granted under theJobs and Growth Fund (JGF) program. This program targets businesses and economic organizations to help them prepare local economies for long-term growth. It involves strategic investments in projects aimed at reducing Canada’s environmental impact and fostering a green, resilient economy.
The Government of Canada is dedicated to collaborating with First Nation, Métis and Inuit Peoples and communities to ensure that they take part in and benefit from natural resource developments.
“Developing our natural resources in a sustainable manner is essential to ensuring future prosperity. And by working in real partnership with Indigenous communities, we can advance meaningful economic reconciliation and create good jobs, all while helping to build up the low-carbon economy. That’s why the Government of Canada is pleased to support this project. Recommissioning and upgrading the Cree Forestry Project will result in new opportunities for the local community and Canada’s forestry sector in Quebec.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources
“Today’s announcement at Cree Lumber Limited Partnership represents excellent news for the Waswanipi community and the Nord-du-Québec region. Our government is proud to grant $4.7M to support this project, which will generate major economic spin-offs for the entire region. This investment will enable the Waswanipi sawmill to reduce its environmental footprint by using renewable forestry resources and enhance its competitiveness. Congratulations to the entire team on their efforts and pursuit of this green shift.”
The Honourable Pascale St-Onge
Member of Parliament for Brome–Missisquoi, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for CED
“It’s all about sustainability: we take only what we need to sustain ourselves. Most of all, we do need to create economic opportunities and economic prosperity. The Cree forestry announcement is part of that vision of sustainability that is much needed for us as a community. Having the facility reopened allows people to be part of the solution in addressing the housing crisis and encourages them to build their own home so we’re not so heavily dependent on social housing.”
Chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi
“The pride we have in the reopening of the facility is the creation of long-lasting jobs for the Waswanipi community. Those jobs won’t go away overnight. Whether in mechanics or trucking, they will directly contribute to the expansion and the sustainability of Cree forestry products.”
President of the Mishtuk Corporation
“Today's announcement is not an end goal; we are investing to give our know-how and ensure the longevity and sustainability of this Waswanipi-led project and make it a business and social success. It first starts with the technologies that we have carefully mobilized, with our partners, that are adapted for the Nord-du-Québec boreal forest. When the community asked forestry companies to partner in this ambitious project, it was natural and also very important for us to accept the invitation and put all our energy and all our resources into taking up the challenge.”
Chief Operating Officer of Chantiers Chibougamau
NRCan’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative (IFI) encourages Indigenous inclusion in the forest economy by supporting forest-based, Indigenous-led economic development projects across Canada.
Canada’s support for increasing Indigenous leadership in forestry and forest products manufacturing also advances economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
Natural Resources Canada is contributing $13 million over three years (2020–2023) to support Indigenous forestry projects across Canada through the IFI.
Since 2017, the IFI has allocated more than $30 million in funding, creating almost 800 jobs and providing training opportunities to nearly 1,000 Indigenous individuals. The program also supported 70 market/feasibility studies; 54 plans for new businesses; 7 negotiations with industry, jurisdictions and capital financiers; and 41 new or expanded joint ventures.
In 2018, Natural Resources Canada invested $300,000 for the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi to support business planning and equipment reconditioning for the Nabakatuk Forest Products facility.
Source: Natural Resources Canada