Many opportunities exist for Aboriginal people to participate in Canada’s resource economy. These opportunities flow from four principle sources.
1 . A b o r i g i n a l c o m m u n i t i e s a r e e x p a n d i n g t h e i r l a n d b a s e t h r o u g h a v a r i e t y o f m e c h a n i s m s i n c l u d i n g l a n d claims, modern treaties, and treaty land entitlements. 1
2 . O p p o r t u n i t i e s t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e r e s o u r c e e c o n o m y a r e o c c u r r i n g t h r o u g h d e v e l o p m e n t s s u c h a s t h e Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak in British Columbia. 2
3.The reallocation of timber resources in British Columbia3 and New Brunswick.4
4 . T h e r e s o u r c e s e c t o r i s p r o j e c t i n g a s k i l l s s h o r t a g e w i t h i n t h e n e x t f i v e t o t e n y e a r s a s t h e c u r r e n t workforce retires. 5
As part of Manitoba’s obligations under the Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement, the province will set aside of 985,949 acres of Crown land for First Nations (Government of Manitoba Press Release. May 05, 2005).
The mountain pine beetle infestation in British Columbia has spread over the past 10 years to affect 7,000,000 hectares of forest land. Salvage operations are occurring, or planned for much of this area. A significant percentage of the salvage operations are expected to be allocated to affected First Nations (Globe and Mail. September 01, 2005).
As part of its plan to revitalize the forest industry, the Government of British Columbia has committed to reallocating 20% of the annual allowable cut to groups that include First Nations (Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Forest News Release #2004OTP0005-000037).
Harvesting agreements, between the Government of New Brunswick and First Nations have provided First Nations Communities with 5.3 percent of the province’s annual allowable cut (Government of New Brunswick, Department of Natural Resources. 2004-2005).
According to Statistics Canada, Market Labour Force Study (September 2005), 17% of the forestry workforce in Canada is 55 years of age or older. Conceivably this portion of the workforce will retire within the next 5 - 10 years.