About 70% of Indigenous communities live in forested regions in Canada, but have been historically underrepresented in the forestry sector. Luckily, this is changing fast and Indigenous Peoples and groups are increasingly playing a bigger role in the management of rehabilitation of Canada’s forests.

Nationally, there are close to 1,400 companies with Indigenous communities as major stakeholders and a growing number of these businesses are being recognized as leaders in the sector, particularly in Saskatchewan. But before we take a closer look at a company that’s based there, we urgently need to clear up a common misconception about the province.

Saskatchewan: Canada’s Forest Playground?

A flat expanse of Great Plains, wheat, bunny hugs, and the best football fans on the planet may come to mind when you think about Canada’s “Bread Basket”. A glance outside of these stereotypes reveals that almost half of the province is covered by a hearty section of Canada’s big, bold, and biodiverse boreal forest.

Community, culture, and environment: Mistik Management Ltd.

Stewards of 1.8 million hectares of boreal forest in Saskatchewan, Mistik began operations in 1989. Run by the 100% Indigenous-owned NorSask Forest Products and Meadow Lake Mechanical Pulp, the company makes extraordinary efforts to ensure local people—and the environment they depend on—benefit from their operations.

Working in what they call a “peopled forest”, close to 90% of the contractors hired by Mistik live in the area. Of these individuals, about 70% are of Indigenous descent. Mistik has also made healthy forest ecosystems a priority, developing partnerships with scientists and organizations that can help identify, assess, and protect areas of high conservation value. In 2008, one of these partnerships resulted in the company making a direct recommendation to Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment to permanently protect wetlands within its management area. And to ensure they were “walking the talk”, Mistik then voluntarily withdrew the areas from all forestry impacts until a protection plan was established.

Increasingly, thanks to the leadership Indigenous-owned companies like Mistik continue to provide, the forestry sector across Canada, is finding ways to transplant aspects of this community-and-environment-focused model that suit their operations. For northern Saskatchewan, this approach has helped the area’s forestry industry to become a significant force, generating more than $1 billion in forest product sales, up to $800 million in exports, and 6,000 direct jobs. And with sustainability at its core, this means healthy, living forests and stable employment for generations to come.

Capture a photo of a forest near you and win!

We want your family to join the Living Forests Photo Contest and show Canada how important forests are to you.

With a camera in hand, take your kids to a forest. It can be a small wooded area in your city or town, or even a national or provincial park. While you’re out enjoying nature, see if you can capture an image that will fit into one of these categories:

  • Best picture of a forest animal
  • Best picture of forest landscape
  • Best picture of a tree

The best picture in each category will win a prize:

 

Click here to learn more and to enter the contest.

 

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