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Polak lauds partnership with Kwantlen First Nation

Langley MLA Mary Polak (right), Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Township Mayor Jack Froese were draped in ceremonial blankets during a ceremony on Friday marking a new agreement which boosts the First Nations’ involvement in the forestry sector. - Natasha Jones/Langley Times
Langley MLA Mary Polak (right), Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Township Mayor Jack Froese were draped in ceremonial blankets during a ceremony on Friday marking a new agreement which boosts the First Nations’ involvement in the forestry sector.
— image credit: Natasha Jones/Langley Times

To succeed, relationships take time, effort and meaningful conversation.

Those elements were apparent on Friday (April 20) when the Kwantlen First Nation and the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation celebrated the signing of a new agreement aimed at increasing Kwantlen’s involvement in the forest sector and diversifying their economy.

The agreement is an element of the government’s recently-released Forest Sector Strategy which makes partnerships with First Nations in forestry a priority.

Over the next year, the province will pursue new forest tenure opportunity agreements that provide First Nations with both short and longer-term certainty of supply for their business, with the goal of achieving 13 new tenure agreement in 2012-13.

A colourful ceremony Friday included the blanketing of dignitaries, including Langley MLA Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

Polak said that by signing the agreement the Kwantlen people “will be putting forestry revenue back into their community to help realize economic and social goals, while supporting industry with clarity on operational decisions.”

Chief Marilyn Gabriel hailed the agreement as a chance for the First Nations people “to continue to build capacity, diversify our economy and play a larger and more involved role in forestry activity within our traditional territory.”

Polak said that the agreement shows that “when we work together we can do some amazing things.”

A tremendous amount has already been done that will lead to other productive elements coming from the agreement, she predicted.

Township Mayor Jack Froese spoke of the significance and importance of the First Nations in the community. Noting that this week marks the 139th anniversary of the Township’s founding as a corporation, Froese said: “We are not just your neighbours. We are your guests on your land. We have been your guests for 139 years.”

Among the guests was Theresa Gibson, a 97-year-old elder who had travelled from California for the ceremony.

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