The symbiotic relationship between the forestry sector and Indigenous peoples has grown to be recognized as a fundamental part of growth and sustainability for all parties involved.
There has been a concerted shift in the way Indigenous peoples engage in resource development in Canada. Despite a long history of exclusion, there is now recognition of the unique and vital role Indigenous stewardship plays in managing the land, and of forests in particular. Many First Nations and Métis communities hold generations of forestry knowledge, giving them a deep understanding of how forests evolve and how they can be managed in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.
“Indigenous peoples are fundamentally peoples of place,” says Paul Robitaille, senior advisor of Indigenous relations for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. “Their languages, cultures, laws, governance structures, ways of knowing and being—they are all born from their place in the world. And in many regions, those places are forests. So Indigenous peoples are often a reflection of the forest and the land, and you really can’t separate the two.”