Resolute Forest Products not honouring SFL agreement, says First Nations leader: Treaty 3 chief calls out forest products giant, throws support behind Fort Frances mill revival.

AuthorRoss, Ian

A northwestern Ontario First Nations leader maintains Resolute Forest Products shouldn't be permitted to take Crown wood out of the Fort Frances area.

Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh, Grand Chief of Treaty 3, said the conditions of the provincial sustainable forest licence (SFL) agreement that the Montreal forest products company holds for the Crossroute Forest "does not appear to have been honoured."

"Resolute not only closed its Fort Frances mill, but has been cutting trees from our forest for its operations outside of Treaty 3. It is unclear who authorized this change," he said in a March 7 news release.

"Certainly, no authorization for this arrangement was ever sought from the Treaty 3 First Nations, nor would an authorization likely have been granted, because our traditional law requires that our resources support the local economy of our territory."

Resolute is the SFL licence holder for the Crossroute and has been diverting logs to its other operations in northwestern Ontario. But Kavanaugh and the Town of Fort Frances point out that the conditions of the SFL agreement indicate that that fibre belongs to the Fort Frances operation.

Kavanaugh cited Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty 3 resource law --Manito Aki Inakonigaawin --which calls for the use of natural resources to be authorized by the Anishinaabe people, and for those resources to benefit the people living in their territory.

Headquartered in Kenora, Grand Council Treaty 3 represents 28 communities and 25,000 people in northwestern Ontario.

The Town of Fort Frances and the community anticipate Resolute will make an announcement this spring that a company is being brought in to demolish the former pulp mill, which was closed in 2013, a move the municipality vehemently opposes.

For years, the town has been working with the province for local control of area Crown forest --through an Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence--to enable a new owner to restart the mill with a new product line.

But town officials express little confidence that Resolute is actually looking to find a buyer that will bring the mill back to life, especially if it uses...

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