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August 2, 2022
Through a collaborative effort, the Manitoba government is signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mosakahiken Cree Nation (MCN) and finalizing another MOU with Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) this week to work toward the development of revenue sharing that will see up to 45 per cent of revenues collected from timber dues returned to rights holders, Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt, Mosakahiken Cree Nation (MCN) Chief Vincent Bercier and Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Chief Sidney Ballantyne announced today.
“For too long, Indigenous communities have not benefited from forestry operations on their traditional territories, and our government understands we must take concrete steps to correct past wrongs and advance reconciliation,” Nesbitt said. “Our government is proud to sign these historic memorandums of understanding with Mosakahiken Cree Nation and Opaskwayak Cree Nation, which are the first of their kind for Manitoba. We look forward to engaging with other Indigenous leadership and nations, as Indigenous participation in the forestry sector is essential to ensure everyone benefits from Manitoba’s resources.”
The Manitoba government has signed a MOU with Mosakahiken Cree Nation. Tomorrow, the minister and provincial government representatives will be in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation to sign a similar two-year pilot agreement. This pilot agreement will allow both Cree nations, as well as the province, to test and assess the approach in preparation for a longer-term agreement, the minister noted.
“This is a historic day for the community of Mosakahiken Cree Nation. Our people deserve a bright future and this is a start that will create more opportunities to improve our community. This revenue sharing agreement will help with putting more homes, more jobs, more gatherings, and more services for our people that are dealing with drugs and alcohol,” said Bercier. “As chief of Mosakahiken Cree Nation, I can see positive change happening for the community. This will educate all of us on what we need to work on moving forward. This is a first-of-its-kind agreement in Manitoba and I am proud that we are the first community to take pen to paper, but more proud that other First Nations have negotiated similar agreements. This would not have been possible without the collaborative effort by all. I would like to thank my good friend Floyd North, my councillors Allard Nasekapow, Sandra Lambert, Rueben Grey, Joey Martin, Alfred Tobacco, and Flora McNabb. Also my supporters, and to my wife and kids who motivate me everyday. Today is a great accomplishment for all. Ekosie.”
The province has been working with both Mosakahiken Cree Nation and Opaskwayak Cree Nation on the agreements since early 2022.
“In the spirit of reconciliation, this is a great first step that allows us to assert our sovereign rights as the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. This revenue sharing concept has been talked about for years with our community and to see this finally come to action gives me hope as a leader,” said Ballantyne. “Not only will the added revenue help with improving our services for our people, it will benefit both our community and our neighbours in Mosakahiken with added employment opportunities. This is a momentous occasion that shows the province intends to do things in a good way with First Nations people moving forward. This move also shows the willingness of Opaskwayak to work on other major agreements not just with the province but with any other governments and business sectors across the country and the rest of the world.”
Under these agreements, Manitoba will share up to 45 per cent of the dues collected for timber harvested in proximity to Mosakahiken Cree Nation and Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN), respectively. Timber dues revenue collected since Jan. 1, 2022, and up to June 30, 2024, will be within scope of the pilot agreement.
Canadian Kraft Paper, Louisiana Pacific and Spruce Products Ltd are the largest forestry operations in Manitoba, with approximately 1,450 direct jobs in Swan River and The Pas. Between 25 to 38 per cent of these jobs are held by individuals from Indigenous communities.
Last year, the Manitoba government allocated more than $1 million towards grants to support key economic development activities, including $200,000 to improve the viability of Manitoba’s forest sector by encouraging enhanced Indigenous participation in the forest economy.
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