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Shuswap forestry projects prioritizing Indigenous interests

Gorman Group partners with Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw for wildfire revitalization work
An aerial shot shows the Canoe Forest Products Ltd. plywood/veneer plant in Canoe. (Canoe Forest Products Ltd. photo)

A B.C.-based lumber company is forging ahead with forestry projects with a focus on Indigenous partnership.

The Gorman Group operates mills across the province, including in Canoe, Revelstoke, Lumby and West Kelowna, and has always fostered a relationship with each region’s local Indigenous bands, said communication coordinator Nicole Arkle.

After the devastation of the Bush Creek East wildfire, the company is strengthening its work with Skwlāx te Secwepemcúlecw, working on rebuilding projects and prioritizing environmental needs.

While further information on specific projects will be released in coming days, Arkle said the company is passionate about doing the most it can to support decolonization efforts and highlighting the “many incredible things” the band and other Indigenous groups are always working on.

“The forging of this relationship is a feel-good moment for all,” said James Tomma, Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw Kukpi7 (Chief) in a media release.

“It brushes aside the stigma of First Nations and the corporate sector. We are hoping others will take notice and similar relationships will evolve like this one.”

Both Arkle and Tomma said the open communication and transparency from both sides is resulting in increased trust and plans for many future projects.

The first step involves the Gorman Group sponsoring helicopter tours for Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw members to fly over burned areas to see firsthand the damage and begin to cultivate ideas for what needs to be done.

“They shouldn’t have to be unable to see that,” said Arkle. “Money shouldn’t be the problem, barring you from seeing. It’s a no-brainer for us.”

Read more:Business stable for Canoe Forest Products in Salmon Arm despite some industry closures

Read more: ‘We’ll be here forever:’ Landmark sculpture embodies Secwépemc presence in Chase area

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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