VERNON, B.C. — Forest company Tolko and the Splatsin First Nation have signed a Letter of Intent that would see the two have a much closer working relationship.
They already have a long and cooperative history of working together to pursue mutually beneficial opportunities.
Tolko CEO and President Brad Thorlakson says “Working with Splatsin has been a very positive experience.”
He says over the past eight years, through open dialogue,they have worked on land management issues, forest administration areas, and procurement opportunities.
“This LOI further strengthens our relationship. As a company, we believe partnerships such as this are the way of the future and we look forward to working with Splatsin and with other Indigenous communities in the areas where we operate.”
Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian says the letter moves them towards a model of joint planning and management of a portion of Splatsin territory and will lay the foundation for a cooperative working relationship to benefit as well as the regional economy.
“Our ancestral leaders in 1910 said ‘These people wish to be partners with us in our country. We must, therefore, be the same as brothers to them, and live as one family. We will share equally in everything-half and half-in land, water, and timber, etc. What is ours will be theirs, and what is theirs will be ours. We will help each other to be great and good.'”
The letter outlines the establishment of a joint administration area; the development of strategies and plans to manage Splatsin’s and Tolko’s relationship; the establishment of business, employment and joint venture opportunities; and building capacity for long-term sustainable employment.
Barry Gladders, Tolko’s General Manager of BC Woodlands, says building partnerships with Indigenous communities that are based on collaboration and trust is an important element of Tolko’s business model. “We are committed to identifying opportunities that benefit Tolko and indigenous communities. This LOI is an example of how we are putting that commitment to work and seeing positive results.”
He points out that this LOI is the result of the longstanding effort between Tolko and Splatsin. “Tolko and Splatsin have been working together since 2008 to manage issues and develop opportunities. Ongoing discussions led to the concept of a Cooperative Working Protocol (CWP) between the parties. The CWP was signed in 2012 to set out a framework for the parties to build a relationship, deal with issues that arise, and pursue opportunities of mutual interest. The CWP was very successful and the resulting relationship has provided a platform to increase certainty on access to fiber for both parties and laid the foundation for this LOI.”
With the LOI signed, now the work begins. “Over the next months, we’ll work together to set out a clear vision for the work, secure funding for the various aspects of the LOI, establish the joint administration area and complete the timber supply analysis,” said Gladders. “We’re looking forward to getting down to work, growing the partnership and realizing the benefits envisioned by Splatsin and Tolko Industries.”
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