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This article was published 25/8/2016 (1323 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Indigenous residents of northern Manitoba demanded Thursday that the provincial government find a way to buy out the Tolko mill in The Pas and turn over the company's timber rights to them.
Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) expressed the deep concerns of the MKO First Nations following the announcement by Tolko Industries that the mill operations in The Pas will shut in December.
"The announcement of the closure of Tolko’s mill in The Pas will touch many MKO First Nations and will touch the lives of our MKO First Nation families throughout the north," she said in a news release.
"The forest industry has been part of the backbone of the northern economy for decades and First Nations have been part of the forest industry since the very beginning.
"The closure of the Tolko operations in The Pas will not only result in the loss of more than 300 jobs at the mill --- many of which are First Nation jobs --- but will have a devastating impact on the economy of the region," said the MKO Grand Chief.
Premier Brian Pallister has said the future of the mill is up to the company, and the province will not provide a bailout.
Wilson said MKO wants to meet with Pallister and Sustainable Development MInister Catherine Cox to find a solution.
"The closure of the mill will also affect many more jobs in the timber harvesting and forest renewal businesses in the MKO region, many of which have First Nation ownership such as Moose Lake Logging Inc.," Wilson said. "Many of these logging and tree planting businesses are family owned and operated enterprises from across our MKO region.
"In 1989, the Swampy Cree Tribal Council and MKO explored the possibility of First Nation-worker-management consortium buying the former ManFor operations at The Pas from the former Progressive Conservative government of then-Premier Gary Filmon. MKO proposes that discussions for First Nation ownership of the mill and the allocation of the forest resources be immediately reopened," she said.