Toronto Star – First Nations leaders from Temagami, Matagami, Matachewan, Teme-Augama Anishnabai, Beaverhouse, and Timiskaming cited concerns that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and Timiskaming Forest Alliance Inc. (TFAI) were not taking seriously their concerns or the long-term health and sustainability of the forest and the use of herbicides.
The First Nations claim that after multiple efforts to work with the MNRF and the TFAI, “it has become clear that legitimate efforts to improve the 2021-2031 Timiskaming Forest Management Plan and ensure that First Nations share in the economic benefits of the forest, were not taken seriously.” They added that “many serious issues remain unresolved.”
“Over many years, the First Nations involved in the Timiskaming Forest have called for the MNRF to take action to include the objectives of Term and Condition 56 within the objectives of the Timiskaming (plan),” the chiefs said in a joint statement to The Speaker.
They reasoned that inclusion of Term and Condition 56 within the forest management plan “would identify and implement ways of achieving more equal participation for our Indigenous communities in the benefits provided through the FMP process.”
If included within the FMP, Chiefs Moore Frappier and Farr said those objectives would include, but are not limited to:
- Number of job opportunities provided with forest and mill operation in the vicinity to indigenous communities.
- Volume of wood supplied to wood processing facilities such as sawmills in indigenous communities;
Number of facilitated indigenous third-party licence negotiations with existing licences where opportunities exist;
- Number of forest resource licences provided to Aboriginal people where unallocated Crown timber exists close to reserves;
- Number of programs developed to provide jobs, training and income for Aboriginal people in forest management operations through joint projects with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and;
- Number of other forest resources addressed that are affected by forest management.
- In addition to that, the chiefs said the Teme-Augama Anishnabai and Temagami First Nation want to see a reduction in the use of herbicides, and, ultimately, a plan with clear targets to eliminate herbicide use and implement alternatives.
They also want to:
- revisit the size and nature of clear cuts within the Timiskaming Forest;
- create a 60-metre buffer on all riparian areas, any exceptions to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis with First Nations;
- provide for moose protection outside of MEAs;
- consult with First Nations to ensure inclusion of relevant traditional ecological knowledge;
- revise procedures to ensure any trapper who may be impacted by harvesting is notified and meaningful accommodations are made;
- commitment to include, utilize, and track the use of traditional ecological knowledge in Forest Management Plans and Annual Work plans.