A strong, long-standing relationship was the foundation of a new three-year agreement that supports Tolko’s goal of achieving stable, sustainable cuts and the Whitefish Lake First Nation’s goal of developing economic opportunities.
The agreement allows Tolko and Whitefish Lake First Nation to cooperate in logging and hauling opportunities with the First Nation’s deciduous timber allocation (DTA). Through this agreement, Whitefish will harvest and deliver logs from the Whitefish DTA to Tolko, as well as harvest incremental volume from Tolko’s Forest Management Areas.
“This agreement provides a secure, stable fibre source for Tolko and economic opportunities for the Whitefish Lake First Nation,” says Dave Bickerton, General Manager, Prairie Woodlands.
The Whitefish Lake First Nation is located almost 75 kilometres north east of Tolko’s mill at High Prairie, Alberta. Tolko began its relationship with Whitefish in the 1990’s, and has signed similar business agreements in the past.
“We’ve had a good working relationship with Whitefish First Nation over the years,” says Allan Bell, Woodlands Manager, Slave Lake. “As we’ve increased activity and with the High Prairie restart and the restart at the Athabasca mill, we’ve been able to re-recognize opportunities with Whitefish that will create timber supply opportunities for Tolko, and income and employment opportunities for the Whitefish First Nation.”
Allan, along with Bob Fleet, Vice President, Forestry and Environment, worked with Whitefish to develop the MOU, which was signed Sept. 13, 2016, and acted as the groundwork for the agreements signed recently. Dave and Bob attended the signing ceremony along with Whitefish chief Robert Grey and counsellors.
Dave says it’s significant that the agreement spans three years, which will allow for better stability for both parties. Allan says the agreement length also speaks to Tolko’s reputation.
“It does say they have confidence in us and that we have confidence in them. We attribute part of that to our past working relationship with Whitefish and all First Nations,” says Allan.
Photo: Back row, L to R: Councillor Beatrice Laboucan (Whitefish FN), Councillor Richard Laboucan (Whitefish FN), Jeff Chalifoux (Consultant), David Bickerton (Tolko) and Councillor Darryn Auger (Whitefish FN). Front row, L to R: Bob Fleet (Tolko) and Chief Robert (Jesse) Grey (Whitefish FN).