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Manitoba First Nations concerned over major issues in province's forestry plan

Duck Mountain Provincial Park Duck Mountain Provincial Park
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Three Manitoba First Nations are calling on the provincial government to reject a forest management plan for the Duck Mountain and Kettle Hills area.

On Wednesday, Minegoziibe Anishinabe, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (WSFN), and Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (SCN) released a statement, saying that the government needs to take action to protect their land and Treaty rights.

According to the statement, the province has allowed a U.S.-based logging company to harvest timber in First Nation territories without an approved forest management plan for nearly two decades. This commercial logging is taking place in Duck Mountain Provincial Park, as well as the Kettle Kills Area.

Now, the province is set to approve a 20-year forest management plan. However, the First Nations are saying that studies show there are deficiencies in this plan.

“In 2012 Manitoba agreed to consider other logging practices to protect moose habitat,” said Minegoziibe Anishinabe Chief Derek Nepinak.

“More than 12 years later Manitoba is still without a viable plan. This failure has negative impacts on our ability to bring our traditional healthy foods home to our families.”

According to the three First Nations, the issues with this plan have been known for years because a working group was created in 2022 in response to their concerns about forestry.

Through this working group, the First Nations got a series of experts to determine the impacts of the plan and current logging practices. According to the First Nations, the experts determined that the plan is based on “bad methodology, inadequate baseline information, and flawed assumptions.”

Now, these communities are asking the province to fix the shortcomings in the forest management plan, establish measures to protect Treaty rights and ensure that the First Nations are involved in decision-making before allowing any further forestry activities on their land.

“The days of Manitoba putting the interests of companies over the rights of First Nations needs to end now,” said Chief Nelson Genaille of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation.

“It’s time for Manitoba to do the right thing. That means stepping up and protecting our lands and our Treaty rights.”

In a statement, Jamie Moses, Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources said the province recognizes the critical importance of working with Indigenous communities on the direction of forestry in Manitoba.

“I have heard the concerns of the three First Nations involved and already had a meeting scheduled with their leadership for this week," Moses said. "I look forward to being in conversation with communities as we work to find a positive path forward.”

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