Stuwix Resources Ltd. is a local First Nations forestry company now in the second year of operation. The company was named in honor of their ancestors – the Stuwix people who lived in this region hundreds of years ago. Like these ancient people, Stuwix Resources Ltd. represents a solid foundation on which a promising future is being built for First Nations people in their area .
The company is owned and operated by eight local Indian Bands. A Board of Directors, made up of one appointee from each Band, oversees the company’s operations. Board members include:
Chief George Saddleman, Upper Nicola Band
Chief Harold Aljam, Coldwater Band
Philippe Batini, Upper Similkameen Indian Band
Robert Sterling Jr., Councillor, Lower Nicola Band
Chief Dewey Shackelly, Nooaitch Band
Chief Percy Joe, Shackan Band
Chief David Walkem, Cooks Ferry Band
Chief Fred Sampson, Siska Band
As they work together, these First Nations communities will share in the economic and social benefits generated by Stuwix Resources Ltd.
Stuwix is the only First Nations company in the B.C. Interior to hold a replaceable forest license. That license, which was transferred from Ardew Wood Products in 2001, had as start-up AAC of 950 m3 per year and this enabled Stuwix to obtain an Innovative Forest Practices Agreement (IFPA) within the Merritt Timber Supply Area (TSA). Stuwix Resources is one of six timber licensees in the Merritt TSA to hold an IFPA. The IFPAs give the licensees the ability to develop environmentally sustainable forest plans that advance their management of the forests in return for increased harvest levels.
In 1999, five licensees, eight Indian bands, and the MoF BCTS formed the Nicola-Similkameen Innovative Forestry Society. After nearly five years of developing innovative forestry practices and in-depth timber supply analyses, the Society has shown that a significant increase in AAC is sustainable and environmentally sound. NSIFS submitted an application to the government to increase the AAC in the Merritt TSA by 549,000 m3 per year. A Share Agreement, supported by Society members, recommended to the Regional Manager of the Southern Interior Forest Region that Stuwix Resources receive 50 percent of any AAC increase approved by the Regional Manager. It also recommended that First Nations people have increased employment opportunities as a result of the IFPA work of all members.
Stuwix Resources logging and forest management activities will be conducted through Stuwix Resources Joint Venture. A management committee, also made up of representatives from the eight Bands, operates the Joint Venture.
“The employment opportunities that Stuwix will provide to Aboriginal people in the area will be significant,” says Stuwix president Chief David Walkem. “We will be looking to local First Nations contractors to carry out the company’s harvesting and silviculture work.”
He says Stuwix will initially hire an outside contractor to provide forest management, financial management and log sales expertise because these skills are currently not available within local First Nation communities. However, part of that contractor’s responsibilities will be to help build this capacity internally.
“Our goal is to have First Nations people in these management positions within the next three to five years,” says David. “We believe that we have the necessary skills and expertise within our communities to undertake the harvesting, technical planning, and silviculture work that will be required.”