Two native bands in the Fraser Lake area have ordered a subsidiary of forest giant West Fraser Timber out of their traditional territories by June 18.
If Pacific Inland Resources doesn’t cease logging operations in the Binta Lake area, the Nadleh Whut’en and Stellat’en First Nation say they will start blockading the company’s cut blocks.
The two bands, part of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, say the company is operating illegally because of a failure to consult with First Nations.
The company also failed to adequately involve the bands in harvesting operations in their traditional territories, said Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en.
“They weren’t willing to sit down and talk to me,” he said. “I tried dealing with West Fraser in the last few weeks and I couldn’t get nowhere with them. We’re trying to work locally here with West Fraser and they wouldn’t even give us the time of day.”
No one from West Fraser was available for comment Friday afternoon.
Forests Minister Mike de Jong was out of the country and unavailable for comment. He has said in response to previous Carrier Sekani protests that he wanted nothing to do with a group that he says is threatening his government and the jobs of British Columbians.
“The vexing issue for me is on the one hand there are members of that organization who demand the government move ahead with creating economic opportunities,” he said in April. “And on the other hand there are members of that organization who demand you stop. And sometimes it’s the same people. It is a very confusing message that one hears at times.”
Louie said West Fraser refused to renew a 40,000 cubic metre logging contract it had awarded to the band last winter.
The company told him it thought the band would have failed to complete the job had they not been pushed by West Fraser, he said. He doesn’t agree.
“I was pissed off because I hired people to do the work. We did everything according to their specs, the same as any other contractor, and now they won’t even talk to us.”
An initial 50,000 cubic metre contract with Canfor was increased to 70,000 cubic metres last year, he said, adding Canfor has told him it would like to increase the volume again to 100,000 cubic metres.
The band also holds a 150,000 cubic metre non-renewable license from the provincial government Louie said it bid for successfully on the open market.
He said he wanted to discuss trading some of the volume from that license with West Fraser in order to feed a small dimension value-added mill the band wants to build in Lejac, near Fraser Lake. The company turned him down, he said.
The Nadleh Whut’en has about 450 members, most of whom live in Nautley near Fraser Lake. Their traditional territory extends west of the Nechako River to near Burns Lake and south down to Kenney Dam.
Patrick Michell of the Stellat’en Nation did not return phone calls by press time.