The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) that sees First Nations and forest industry leaders agreeing to work together to strengthen Canada’s forest sector through economic development initiatives and business investments, strong environmental stewardship and the creation of skill development opportunities, particularly targeted to First Nations youth. These are also the quality of life issues that will be discussed at the Council of Federation meeting.

“The Canadian forest industry and First Nations peoples have a proven track record of working together. In fact, the forest industry is the largest industrial employer of Aboriginal peoples (17,000) and depends upon 1400 Aboriginal businesses for its day to day operations. The Forest Products Association and the Assembly of First Nations are here today because we share a common set of objectives:  the creation of high skilled jobs for First Nations youth; the use of forest practices that set the global standard for environmental stewardship, and the development of solid business relationships that will create economic opportunity in Canada’s remote communities. Moreover, we both understand that we can only succeed if we collaborate across the board on aggressively pursuing these goals,” said Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.

“First Nations have a vital role to play in shaping the future of a healthy forest industry. The fate of the industry is tied up with the fate of hundreds of rural communities across this land as the forest sector has been the main source of business investment, employment and educational opportunities for First Nations people,” said National Chief Phil Fontaine. “We are therefore delighted forestry leaders took up our challenge to seriously identify ways we can create long-lasting economic initiatives founded in good environmental practices.”

This landmark agreement is in keeping with the theme of AFN’s General Assembly – Renewing Our Place as Founding Nations – which emphasizes economic and business investment, environmental responsibility and education and skills development. The agreement’s three key objectives are to support lasting economic initiatives, promote mutually beneficial business relationships and develop strategies designed to enhance the capacity for business development of First Nations people and communities.

The forest industry is the largest industry to take the AFN’s Corporate Challenge.
The Canadian forest products industry records $80-billion annually in sales, accounts for 12% of Canada’s manufacturing GDP, directly employs nearly 300,000 Canadians in more than 300 communities across the country. The sector employs more than 17,000 Aboriginal people and involves more than 1400 Aboriginal businesses.

FPAC is the voice of Canada’s wood, pulp and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For more information on FPAC’s partnerships with Aboriginal Communities visit the FPAC website at: www.fpac.lo

Photographs of the signing ceremony can be obtained through Fiona Story at  fstory@meca.ca

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For more information, contact:

Fiona McDonald
Communications Coordinator
Forest Products Association of Canada
613-563-1441 x318
fmcdonald@fpac.ca

Bryan Hendry
Senior Policy Advisor
Economic Partnerships
Assembly of First Nations
On-site cell: 613-293-6106
bhendry@afn.ca