VERNON, British Columbia -Tolko and Splatsin, the southern-most community of the 17 that make up the Secwepemc Nation, have a long and cooperative history of working together to pursue mutually beneficial opportunities. In November, this relationship took another step forward with the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) that further strengthens the partnership.
“Working with Splatsin has been a very positive experience,” said Brad Thorlakson, President and CEO. “Over the past eight years, through open dialogue, we have worked together on land management issues, forest administration areas, and procurement opportunities. This LOI further strengthens our relationship. As a company, we believe partnerships such as this are the way of the future and we look forward to working with Splatsin and with other Indigenous communities in the areas where we operate.”
“The LOI with Tolko and Splatsin moves us towards a model of joint planning and management of a portion of our territory,” said Chief Kukpi7 Wayne Christian. “Our ancestral leaders in 1910 said ‘These people wish to be partners with us in our country. We must, therefore, be the same as brothers to them, and live as one family. We will share equally in everything—half and half—in land, water, and timber, etc. What is ours will be theirs, and what is theirs will be ours. We will help each other to be great and good.’"
Splatsin sees this partnership with Tolko as bringing to life these words of its ancestral leaders. The LOI will lay the foundation for a cooperative working relationship that will benefit Splatsin and Tolko as well as the regional economy.
The LOI outlines the establishment of a joint administration area; the development of strategies and plans to manage Splatsin’s and Tolko’s relationship; the establishment of business, employment and joint venture opportunities; and building capacity for long-term sustainable employment.
Barry Gladders, Tolko’s General Manager of BC Woodlands, says building partnerships with Indigenous communities that are based on collaboration and trust is an important element of Tolko’s business model. “We are committed to identifying opportunities that benefit Tolko and indigenous communities. This LOI is an example of how we are putting that commitment to work and seeing positive results.”
He points out that this LOI is the result of the longstanding effort between Tolko and Splatsin. “Tolko and Splatsin have been working together since 2008 to manage issues and develop opportunities. Ongoing discussions led to the concept of a Cooperative Working Protocol (CWP) between the parties. The CWP was signed in 2012 to set out a framework for the parties to build a relationship, deal with issues that arise, and pursue opportunities of mutual interest. The CWP was very successful and the resulting relationship has provided a platform to increase certainty on access to fiber for both parties and laid the foundation for this LOI.”
With the LOI signed, now the work begins. “Over the next months, we’ll work together to set out a clear vision for the work, secure funding for the various aspects of the LOI, establish the joint administration area and complete the timber supply analysis,” said Gladders. “We’re looking forward to getting down to work, growing the partnership and realizing the benefits envisioned by Splatsin and Tolko Industries.”
Splatsin is the southern-most community of the 17 that make up the Secwepemc Nation. There are three reserves, Salmon River, Enderby, and Sicamous, and more than 900 members. More than half the membership lives off reserve. The Splatsin have a long history in the forest industry. Splatsin men were instrumental in the Shuswap River log drives that occurred every year. For more information visit: https://www.splatsin.ca/.
Tolko Industries Ltd.
Tolko Industries Ltd. is a private, Canadian-owned forest products company based in Vernon, British Columbia. With more than 3500 employees, Tolko is a major producer and marketer of lumber, veneer, plywood, and oriented strand board, with manufacturing operations across Western Canada. The company’s woodlands operations have been recognized by third-party certification of its sustainable forest management systems. For more information, visit www.tolko.com.