Whitefeather Forest Initiative

Commercial Forestry

This is my desire, to work in the area of forestry, because we have good timber in our forest. If we go through with our planning process to do forestry we can create employment for our people in the making of lumber. If we are successful in obtaining our forestry [forestry tenure] we will achieve a landmark that will help us in our future forestry endeavours.
The late Elder George K. Strang (in translation)

Vision for Commercial Forestry:
Internationally acclaimed community-based forest management supporting commercial forestry partnerships led by our First Nation and guided by our Elders, where the forest as an indigenous cultural landscape with its cover, biodiversity, and remoteness, is maintained over time to sustain Pikangikum culture and environment and renew our economy. Forestry in the Planning Area will provide primary economic benefits to Beekahncheekahmeeng paymahteeseewahch and will contribute to the forest economy of Ontario.

Determining New Enterprise Opportunities in Commercial Forestry:
It is our intention to sustain the Whitefeather Forest and to harmonize customary land uses with new opportunities such as commercial forestry. Our resource stewardship tradition is providing the foundation for this as we have always harmonized our customary activities in the Whitefeather to the cycles of the forest. For example, when our conifer forests become old and ready for renewal, lightning comes to the land to bring fire. The old forest is killed and the new forest is born. When the renewed forest is young, many animals like pine marten and caribou go away. We have always harmonized our trapping to account for this renewal. This is what we will do when we start new livelihood activities including forestry in the Whitefeather Forest.

It is also our intention to design new uses, such as commercial forestry, in a way that is consistent with our resource stewardship tradition. This applies from access to harvesting to renewing the forest. Our Elders teach that they have techniques which we will be able to use to achieve this. They will guide us to renew the forest respecting the way the Creator made the timber to live. Our Elders have many important teachings about the relationship of Thunderbird Fire to the life cycle of the Whitefeather Forest that we will be able to use in our forest management practices. Our customary resource stewardship practices will be joined with the best of non-native forest management practices to achieve this.

Our planning for forestry has involved visits to forestry operations of other First Nations to learn about their approaches. This included visits to Noopimiing Anokeewin, a woodlands company in our region located at Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation; Tanizul Timber, operated by the Tl’azt’en Nation in British Columbia; and Menominee Tribal Enterprises, owned and operated by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. An award winning article on this trip was published in Wawatay News.

In planning for specific forestry-based manufacturing opportunities in the Whitefeather Forest we have taken account of three factors. First is our goal and urgent need to provide livelihood opportunities for our youth. Second is our direction from Pikangikum Elders to secure the highest value and best-end use of the timber in the Whitefeather Forest. Third is the current forestry business climate in the larger region where traditional forestry activities such as pulp and paper are in a state of transition. This transition provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate the potential of value-added forestry in the Whitefeather Forest.

In this context we have decided to develop forestry enterprises based on the production of specialized value-added goods which take advantage of the unique strengths of the timber growing in our northern Whitefeather Forest.


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The Whitefeather Forest lies within ancestral lands of the people of Pikangikum First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

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Keeping the Land
A Land Use Strategy for the Whitefeather... Read More »

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