By: The Working Forest Staff
THE WILLAMS LAKE TRIBUNE — ‘It hits home yet again when you see our own members and businesses out of work’: Chief Joe Alphonse
Stumpage rate hikes are having a negative impact on his communities, said Nits’il?n (Chief) Joe Alphonse as the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) is calling for an urgent review of the situation.
“We need to take a hard look at forestry in the Chilcotin,” Alphonse said. “We have to ask the hard questions. Who continues to profit from logging in our backyard?”
Alphonse said in the new year, Tsilhqo’tin chiefs will be meeting to discuss their position on forestry and set out next steps to address logging on Tsilhqo’tin lands.
“Small Indigenous forestry companies can’t ride out these huge spikes in stumpage fees,” said Yunes’itin Government Chief Lennon Solomon.
“It might seem like small logging contracts, but it means jobs for our members and food on the table. It is devastating that we can’t put our members to work because the stumpage rates are suddenly through the roof.”
Solomon said the high stumpage rate is putting people out of work at the very worst time, right over the holidays.
“It hurts our workers and their families and our whole community. I won’t stand for it. If we can’t benefit from the forests in our own territory, nobody should be logging. We need a better, fairer, system for Indigenous communities.”
Tl’esqox First Nation Government Chief Francis Laceese said his community has been building an economy based on smaller, sustainable logging, including training, harvesting, mill work and value-added.
“As Indigenous peoples, we are working hard to build ourselves up from the margins of the economy, but we are the first to suffer and the first to be shut down by impacts like these unfair stumpage rates. We won’t stand by while others log our territory and we don’t see fair benefits coming to our communities,” Laceese said.
“This issue has to be addressed immediately. Our communities will stand firmly together to fight against this unfairness.”
The Tribune has reached out to the Ministry of Forests for comment
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