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Introducing our Integrated Indigenous Relations Steering Committee

As Paper Excellence Canada, Domtar and Resolute work to integrate into one company, different groups within the three companies are coming together under a banner of collaboration.

Kicking off the Indigenous Relations Steering Committee

Since last September, the Integrated Indigenous Relations Steering Committee has been meeting monthly. The initial goal is to cross-share experiences and understand how each business’ Indigenous Relations (IR) program currently operates. Ultimately, the goal is to build a common program—developing shared best practice standards and aligning our IR policies and commitment statements.

Each company is approaching Indigenous relations from a different business background. Paper Excellence Canada operates primarily in British Colombia (BC) with one additional mill in Saskatchewan and does not manage any forest tenures in BC. In contrast, Resolute manages woodlands in ceded and unceded territories in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec as well as a network of pulp, paper and wood products operations. Domtar’s Canadian operational footprint is smaller than the other companies with one operating mill in Windsor, Quebec. However, the Windsor operation is the biggest uncoated freesheet paper mill in Canada. Domtar also manages woodlands in southern Quebec.

Paper Excellence Canada and Resolute both have Indigenous business partnerships already established (see below) and all three companies have strong working relationships with Indigenous groups in their operating areas.

Indigenous Business Partnership Examples

  • Resolute’s Thunder Bay sawmill in Ontario operates under a unique business model with Fort William First Nation. It was the first facility in Canada to work under regulations within the framework of the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, which facilitates industrial development with First Nations on their land. Learn more here.
  • Opitciwan sawmill in Quebec is a joint venture between Resolute and the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan. The operation, which is 630 km north of Montréal, has successfully operated since 1999. Learn more here.
  • Paper Excellence Canada is a partner in Atli Chip LP, a whole-log chipping facility on northern Vancouver Island which is majority owned by the ‘Namgis First Nation and supplies fibre to Paper Excellence mils. Learn more about Atli Chip here.
  • Through its Meadow Lake mill in Saskatchewan, Paper Excellence Canada is part of Mistik Management Ltd which holds the provincial Forest Management Agreement for the area. Mistik is an equal partnership between the Meadow Lake mill and NorSask Forest Products, which in turn is owned by the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. Learn more about Mistik here.

Meet the Indigenous Relations Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is made up of dedicated professionals with strong background in Indigenous relations and many years working in the forest industry.

Pierre Cormier, F. Eng., vice president, Forestry and Woodlands Operations, Quebec and Ontario, has worked in the forest products sector for 36 years. Today, Pierre is responsible for procurement of roundwood from public forests, private forests and timber auctions in Quebec, as well as from the Thunder Bay, Ignace and Atikokan sawmills in Ontario. He is also Chair of the Strategic and Tactical Advisory Committee of FPInnovations, a private, not-for-profit R&D organization that specializes in developing solutions for the Canadian forest products sector.

“Our relationships with communities are based on respect and trust. By working together on local projects, we can continue building our business partnerships to ensure a better future for all.”

Eric Lapointe, F. Eng., forest operations and woodland superintendent, has worked in the forest products sector for over 20 years. He is currently in charge of managing the company’s woodlands associated with Windsor mill in southern Quebec under ISO 14001, SFI® and FSC® certification. “Our team’s commitment to FSC certification includes a commitment to recognizing and respecting Principle 3 concerning the rights of Indigenous peoples. FSC has been an opportunity for me over the years to better understand the reality of the Indigenous nations with whom we are involved, and to forge links in ways that might not otherwise have been possible.” 

Kim Lefebvre, RPF, manager of Indigenous Fibre Partnerships, has worked in the forest products sector for almost 20 years. Currently, she works to develop fiber supply partnerships with Indigenous communities. “Working together with our colleagues at Resolute and Domtar has been a valuable cross-sharing experience to see how others are implementing Indigenous reconciliation across the country. I look forward to building on our collective knowledge and making our Indigenous Relations program even stronger.”

Tom Ratz, RPF, chief forester for Ontario has worked for over 40 years in the forest products sector. Over the years he has worked to develop long-lasting honest relationships with communities. Tom is the first and current chair of the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) Indigenous Relations Committee. “I look forward to collaborating and showing how important the local on-the-ground relationships are to building relationships.”

Etienne Vezina F. Eng., senior director, Forestry, has worked in the forest products sector for over 20 years. Currently, he oversees forest management and chain of custody certification. Etienne is a member of the Paper Excellence Group DE&I committee, a member of the FSC Canada board and co-chair of Forest Products Association of Canada’s Indigenous committee. “I have always had interest in how Indigenous reconciliation underwent out west, we now have the opportunity to discuss it with colleagues internally. This is a great opportunity to learn and get the best practices from our overall operations in North America.”

Lana Wilhelm, RPF, director of Indigenous Relations, has worked in collaboration with Indigenous communities in the forestry sector for 20 years. As the Chair of the Indigenous Relations Steering Committee overseeing the goal of building a common program, she has taken the initiative to build bridges with colleagues in all the business units in the pursuit of best practices in Indigenous relations. Working externally with both national and regional Indigenous communities, Lana has collaborated to bring a diverse voice to the company and its commitment to meaningful engagement.

“We are fortunate to have access to colleagues with collectively over a hundred years of experience in setting the bar high at effective Indigenous partnerships – and our Steering Committee is now a platform for business units to draw on for support and guidance.”

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