Landmark Agreement Between Canadian Forest Sector and Assembly of First Nations



    QUEBEC CITY, July 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The Forest Products Association of
Canada (FPAC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Assembly of
First Nations (AFN) that sees First Nations and forest industry leaders
agreeing to work together to strengthen Canada's forest sector through
economic development initiatives and business investments, strong
environmental stewardship and the creation of skill development opportunities,
particularly targeted to First Nations youth. These are also the quality of
life issues that will be discussed at the Council of Federation meeting.
    "The Canadian forest industry and First Nations peoples have a proven
track record of working together. In fact, the forest industry is the largest
industrial employer of Aboriginal peoples (17,000) and depends upon 1400
Aboriginal businesses for its day to day operations. The Forest Products
Association and the Assembly of First Nations are here today because we share
a common set of objectives: the creation of high skilled jobs for First
Nations youth; the use of forest practices that set the global standard for
environmental stewardship, and the development of solid business relationships
that will create economic opportunity in Canada's remote communities.
Moreover, we both understand that we can only succeed if we collaborate across
the board on aggressively pursuing these goals," said Avrim Lazar, President
and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.
    "First Nations have a vital role to play in shaping the future of a
healthy forest industry. The fate of the industry is tied up with the fate of
hundreds of rural communities across this land as the forest sector has been
the main source of business investment, employment and educational
opportunities for First Nations people," said National Chief Phil Fontaine.
"We are therefore delighted forestry leaders took up our challenge to
seriously identify ways we can create long-lasting economic initiatives
founded in good environmental practices."
    This landmark agreement is in keeping with the theme of AFN's General
Assembly - Renewing Our Place as Founding Nations - which emphasizes economic
and business investment, environmental responsibility and education and skills
development. The agreement's three key objectives are to support lasting
economic initiatives, promote mutually beneficial business relationships and
develop strategies designed to enhance the capacity for business development
of First Nations people and communities.
    The forest industry is the largest industry to take the AFN's Corporate
Challenge.

    The Canadian forest products industry records $80-billion annually in
sales, accounts for 12% of Canada's manufacturing GDP, directly employs nearly
300,000 Canadians in more than 300 communities across the country. The sector
employs more than 17,000 Aboriginal people and involves more than 1400
Aboriginal businesses.
    FPAC is the voice of Canada's wood, pulp and paper producers nationally
and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs.

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.

    For more information on FPAC's partnerships with Aboriginal Communities
visit the FPAC website at: www.fpac.ca
    Photographs of the signing ceremony can be obtained through Fiona Story
at fstory@meca.ca




For further information:

For further information: Monica Bailey, Manager, External Relations,
Forest Products Association of Canada, (613) 563-1441 ext: 323, On-site cell:
(613) 878-4144, Monica.bailey@fpac.ca; Bryan Hendry, Senior Policy Advisor,
Economic Partnerships, Assembly of First Nations, On-site cell: (613)
293-6106, bhendry@afn.ca


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