Course:CONS370/Projects/A review and assessment of the forestry industry of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation in Canada's North West Territories
Lax Kw'alaams is an indigenous community that previously was called Fort Simpson, which is located on the northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada. The name Port Simpson was changed to Lax Kw'alaams in the 18th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, [insert date] which means "place of the small roses". Due to changes in environment and economic conditions, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation had to transform their original development model to adapt to the decline of forestry as the local economy depends on the forestry industry. People always ignore the contribution of indigenous people in building the contemporary economies, the indigenous people can reduce the impact of industrial resource extraction upon the landscape. The Lax Kw’alaams First Nation improved local economy through innovative land and resource management, along with entrepreneurial pursuit of new tenure rights and markets for product. The participation of first nation community in local industry development is significant. Coast Tsimshian Resources LP (CTR) is a company wholly owned by the Lax Kw'alaams Band after the bankrupt of New Skeena Forest Products in 2004. After that, the Lax Kw'alaams immediately negotiated with the Royal bank of Canada to buy the assets, including Tree Farm License No.1, for $4.8 million. It holds two forest tenures in Northwestern British Columbia, with a combined Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) of over 550,000 m³.
From the perspective of environmental protection, the forestry industry may be held responsible for sedimentation of the waters as well as chances for the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation to face the challenge of the contemporary social influences [what does this mean?]. Although current studies have investigated the economics of the implementation of the new forestry industry in the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation aboriginal forestry, the sources we have reviewed have ignored the negative effects on environment along with the forest exploitation. Based on the deficit, our research question is: how does the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation find the balance between economic development and environmental protection as they adapt to new economy? We compare and contrast the respective capacities and unique assets of the Lax Kw'alaams before and after the development of new economy in the case study. By comparing and analyzing the past as well as current situation of forest industry of the Kw'alaams, an assessment was made to point out solutions for environmental protection to fit into their strategies about economic revitalization.
- 1 Description
- 2 Tenure arrangements
- 3 Administrative arrangements
- 4 Affected Stakeholders
- 5 Interested Outside Stakeholders
- 6 Discussion
- 7 Assessment
- 8 Recommendations
- 9 References
Lax Kw’alaams, previously named Fort Simpson, is an Indigenous village community in northwestern British Columbia, Canada with about 3,737 members since August 2015.
Lax Kw'alaams derives from Laxłgu'alaams, used to spell as Lach Goo Alams, the meaning is "place of the small roses".Lax Kw'alaams are descendants of the Nine Tribes of the Tsmishian, the Nine Tribes includes:
The Nine Tribes have lived in their territories for more than 10,000 years, the traditional language for them is Sm’algyax. One of the most important events in the history of Lax Kw'alaams was a series of wars fought with the Tlingit from the north, almost 2000 years ago. The Nine Tribes consolidated their efforts to fight the enemy and turned into one of the region's most powerful political, economic and military powers after the war. They continued to expand their influence, and by the time of Contact [insert a date], the Nine Tribes' territories stretched up to the mouth of the Nass River, along the Skeena River to Terrace nowadays, also along the coast. Their influence on trade extended into the interior along the "Grease Trails"——the routes used to transport dried and reduced Eulachon, [explain what this is] and all the way to Kispiox up the Skeena watershed. The Nine Tribes became powerful and prosperous not because of an abundance of resources but through alliance building, strategy and the development of military power.
The trading ships of Americans, British and Russians came to the north coast of British Columbia to trade for sea otter pelts since the 1770s. By the 1810s, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) set up many forts in the interior to maintain the land-based fur trade as American traders increased their participation along the coast. Legex, a dynasty of chiefs from the Gispaxlo'ots tribe levied taxes on the American ships in exchange for safe passage and the privilege to trade, which had a strong impact on the operations of HBC in this area. As the location of Fort Nass which was established in 1831 wasn't that good, Fort Simpson was built on a campsite owned by Legex and know as Lax Kw'alaams. Legex asked a fee to anyone who wanted to trade at the fort for using his territory. From 1830 to 1840, the Nine Tribes turned Lax Kw'alaams from a campsite of Gispaxlo'ots to a major settlement site. The Lax Kw'alaams became more and more important as increasingly important feasts and ceremonies were being held in this area, and also the neighbouring people——especially Haida and Tlingit became the frequenters here.
Legex died in 1840, left a power vacuum in the Nine Tribes, other eight Tribes contended for the position and control of the lucrative trade around the HBC fort. At the same year, Tsimshian people worked as wage labourers in wood cutting and logging at Fort Simpson. their working was so important to the fort that the fort was constructed entirely around the seasonal cycle of the Tsimshian. Since 1856, Lax Kw’alaams has become the most popular and important settlement for the Nine Tribes. However, after gold was found in 1858 and British Columbia became a colony of Great Britain, the importance of Lax Kw’alaams gradually declined. In 1860, an Anglican named William Duncan arrived here and finally persuaded many Nine Tribes members to move to Metlakatla.
After British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, the matters related to Aboriginal people came under federal jurisdiction. The government used missionaries to encouraged the Nine Tribes to reject Tsimshian values and adopt European values, like the nuclear family. To that end, by 1877, thirty new houses had been built in Lax Kw’alaams. By 1880, 650 single family homes, and by the 1890s, all the traditional houses were gone along with their totem markers. The result of the increased demand for lumber meant a water-powered sawmill was built and Lax Kw’alaams people worked at that mill for nearly a century, supplying other communities. The introduction of William Duncan and Thomas Crosby is seen by most historians as the beginning of the colonization of the Nine Tribes.
By 1900, Lax Kw'alaams, increasingly referred to as Port Simpson, was a small community of about 1,100 people, both of Aboriginal and European descent. The town had a number of industries, such as boat building, clam and salmon canning, and logging, all with Aboriginal owners. During this time, Lax Kw'alaams held the largest concentration of Aboriginally-owned businesses in the entire province. Coast Tsimshian fishers were important to the regional catch and exercised considerable control over their labour. The Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) reported that, in the 1880s, Native productivity jumped from about $250,000 to $4 million. Credit for these spikes was largely attributed to the Tsimshian, and DIA consistently applauded their efforts. During this same period, the Nine Tribes became more vocal and insistent on their rights and title to the land. Through the 20th century, federal government policies had the cumulative effect of segregating Aboriginal people from the mainstream economic and social society of an emerging Canadian culture. Restrictive fishing regulations made it impossible for Lax Kw'alaams people to continue their primary form of sustenance and economic wealth. 
The Tsimshian proved to be shrewd business people who early European fur traders learned were formidable commercial competitors.
The Tsimshian had vast experience facilitating inter-tribal trade, given their pivotal location on the coast. Tribal leaders originally utilized trade with Europeans to further develop their cultures under their own distinctive lines.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the Tsimshian were significantly involved in industrial production, manufacturing, mercantile enterprises, and wage labour. The traditional economy of the Tsimshian was largely based on fishing, hunting and trapping. Today, we [who is we???] are involved in the fishing industry, aquaculture, forestry, and are seeking to rebuild our ??? financial system by constructively engaging in the market economy.
Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 states:
RIGHTS OF THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLES OF CANADA
35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.
(2) In this Act, "aboriginal peoples of Canada" includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) "treaty rights" includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.
(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.
Forest tenures are the agreement between a company, a community or an individual and the B.C. government that grant the rights and outlines the conditions (through licences and permits) under which timber is harvested from provincial land. Approximately 95% of the province's timber is publicly owned. The B.C. government authorizes the rights to harvest Crown timber through forest tenures.
Lax Kw’alaams First Nation has described its traditional territory as all of the lands and waters between the land surrounding the tributaries of the Skeena River, the height of land east of the Zymoetz River, and the Kitsumkalum River itself. To the west, traditional territory includes Nass Bay and the Nass River. To the north, traditional territory includes Wales and Pearse Islands and the Dundas and Stephens Islands groups, as well as lands and waters at the mouth of the Skeena stretching south along Grenville Channel.
Before British Columbia joined Canada and matters related to Aboriginal people became federal jurisdiction in 1871, the Nine Tribes have lived in their territories for more than 10,000 years and Lax Kw'alaams had become an important Nine Tribes settlement for almost 40 years. Government policy towards Aboriginal people was intended to reorder three core components to their lives: their relationship with the land; their social structures; and the way they educated their young. For the most part, the government used missionaries to carry out these policies, so that Thomas Crosby, a Methodist missionary, was invited to Lax Kw’alaams. To that end, by 1877, thirty new houses had been built in Lax Kw’alaams. By 1880, 650 single family homes, and by the 1890s, all the traditional houses were gone along with their totem markers. Nine Tribes adopted a number of European outlooks, but it was within the larger context of the robust Tsimshian culture. At the 1880s, the Nine Tribes became more vocal and insistent on their rights and title to the land.
In 1999, Lax Kw’alaams was in a poverty-stricken situation, with the Band facing many of the social and economic problems that afflict other isolated First Nation communities in Canada. The roads were bad, housing was in terrible shape, unemployment was around 80%. To make matters worse, the Band was effectively bankrupt and the balance sheet was a mess. In 2004, an article indicated that the economy of Lax Kw'alaams had improved and the unemployment rate has declined from 80% in 2000 to lower than 5% in 2004 . The declining of the unemployment rate was mainly because of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation business ventures, mostly on account of substantial forestry and fisheries operations. The forestry development is conducted by the Coast Tsimshian Resource LP, the company is wholly owned by the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation and managed by A&A Trading Ltd. This partnership holds two forest tenures in northwestern BC, with a combined allowable annual cut(AAC) of over 550,000 m³.“Lax Kw’alaams has been involved in forestry management and harvesting activities for thousands of years,” says Carl Sampson, Director of Business and Employment for LKBD. “In more modern times, Lax Kw’alaams has had a very active on-reserve forestry operation throughout the 80s and 90s. When the Forest economy started to experience the economic decline and the closures of Pulp, Paper and Sawmills throughout the Province, our operations took a hit as a result.” Obviously, Lax Kw'alaams took the chance and revitalized forestry.
In 2003, Lax Kw’alaams First Nation signed a forestry accommodation agreement with the Province of BC, providing the community with access to 650,000 m³ of timber and $6.85 million in shared revenue over five years.
In 2004, when New Skeena Forest Products went bankrupt and no one bid on its timber assets, the Lax Kw’alaams arranged a financing package with the Royal Bank of Canada to buy the assets, including Tree Farm License No. 1, for $4.8 million.
In 2005, the BC government paid $3.1 million to the Coast Tsimshian Resources Limited Partnership (a Lax Kw'alaams First Nation business entity) for the return of timber harvesting rights that totalled 120,782 m³.
The community of Lax Kw'alaams is not far from the city of Prince Rupert. It was reported to be 3,737 members in the community in August 2015. However 81% of the members live off-reserve in Vancouver, Prince Rupert and urban centres, 2% of the members live in other First Nation communities, only 17% of the members live on the Lax Kw'alaams reserve. Lax Kw'alaam is governed through a custom code election so that the community can establish its own election law. Lax Kw’alaams has been very transparent with their election laws by posting their custom election code online—not a practice employed by other custom code bands. Also, the hereditary leaders of the Nine Tribes, elders insist on their Aboriginal title and rights over a section of land north of Prince Rupert including Dundas Island, Grassy Point, Lax Kw’alaams, the Nasoga Gulf, the Khutzeymateen Inlet and the Nass River.
Note*: Election System - The type of system used by a First Nation in the selection of its chief and councillors (can be either under the Indian Act election system, the First Nations Elections Act, a custom system, or under the provisions of a self-governing agreement).
First Nation OfficalElected Council Members
|Title||Surename||Given Name||Appionment Date||Expiry Date|
|Councillor||MATHER JR||RUSSELL R.||11/24/2015||11/23/2019|
|Councillor||WHITE||THEODORE H. H.||11/24/2015||11/23/2019|
The council on behalf of the voice for hereditary leaders in Lax Kw’alaams.
Affected stakeholder of Lax Kw'alaams First Nation is any group of persons that largely depends on forest products or likely to be affected by the activities in the customarily-claimed forest area. It includes local or indigenous communities who respect the intrinsic value of the traditional forest. Lax Kw’alaams Business Development LP (LKBD), which was formed in 2016, works to enhance the quality of life for all of the members of the Lax Kw’alaams Band by forging partnerships that build an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable future. It includes three Band-owned corporations: Coast Tsimshian Resources LP, Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant and Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant. Coast Tsimshian Resources LP, as the company wholly owned by the Lax Kw’alaams Band, holds two forest tenures in Northwestern British Columbia, with a combined Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) of over 550,000m³. The table below shows the affected stakeholders, their main relevant objectives, their relative power and degree of care for the forest.
|Affected Stakeholder||Main relevant objectives||Relative power||Degree of care for forest|
|Lax Kw'alaams Council Members||
|Lax Kw'alaams First Nation||
|Coast Tsimshian Resources Lp||
Interested Outside Stakeholders
The interested stakeholder of Lax Kw'alaams is any person, group of persons or entity that is linked in a transaction or an activity relating to a forest area, but who does or do not have a long-term dependency on that forest area. The retailers or dealers in forest produce, logging company workers, Logging company or holder of logging concession licence are considered as interested stakeholders in most cases.
|Interested Stakeholder||Main relevant objectives||Relative power||Degree of care for forest|
|B.C. Ministry of Forests||
|Fujian Hijong Wood industry co. ltd. of Putian, China||
|Other Band-owned Corporation||
Implications for Development
The aim of Lax Kw'alaams Business Development LP is to enhance the opportunities and quality of life for all members of the Band by creating sustainable economic development opportunities and meaningful employment opportunities for the community and the members in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable manner. Its goals are to take advantage of business opportunities within the Lax Kw’alaams Band’s territory, build both business and employment capacity by participating in sustainable joint venture business opportunities as well as enhance opportunities for all Lax Kw’alaams Band members by providing education and training support.
The Prince Rupert, BC, region was experiencing a major downturn in the forestry industry in 2005. The decline of forestry contributed to a wider pattern of decline in northwest employment that contrasted with improving employment conditions and economic expansion throughout the rest of the province. The Lax Kw'alaams First Nation paid $4.8 million for Tree Farm Licence No. 1, which was a huge risk, for a community with its own economic problems, including an unemployment rate hovering around 80 percent. Because Lax Kw'alaams is an isolated community of 1,000 residents, about one hour by boat from Prince Rupert and band members historically relied on logging for seasonal employment, the decision to buy the Terrace-area tree farm licence led the success of Lax Kw'alaams.
To seize the opportunities for Lax Kw’alaams, and to enhance the opportunities and quality of life for all members of the Band, the Lax Kw’alaams Business Development LP (LKBD) was formed in 2016. What surprised many in the forestry industry was CTR's success at finding a market for wood nobody else wanted — low-grade hemlock and balsam. With no local pulp mill or sawmill to sell to, CTR built a global market for its product by shipping raw logs to Japan, Korea and China. Coast Tsimshian Resources, which is one of the corporations of the Lax Kw’alaams Business Development LP, has signed a major contract to sell logs to a Chinese company. Since opening up the international market, the company's annual revenues have ranged from $12 to $26 million annually over the past decade. Forestry revenues helped pay for a new swimming pool and community centre in the village of Lax Kw'alaams. CTR profits also support community sport teams, and some years, have been distributed as dividends of $100 to each community member.
Despite Coast Tsimshian’s profitability, opportunities for new business, and a combined allowable annual cut (AAC) of over 850,000 m³, its business decisions are always guided by the Band’s respect for the land, principles of sustainability and the quality of life of its people. That’s why one of the first things the Lax Kw’alaams did when they acquired Tree Farm License #1 and the Terrace Forest License, was reduce the allowable cut by 40%. With the support of assets acquired in forestry industry, a fish processing plant was opened in 2012, which now employs 100 people with steady work for nine months of the year. Other ventures include the Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant, which received a major renovation and upgrade in 2012, making it the most modern fish processing plant on the Coast of British Columbia.
With the development of forestry industry and fishing processing, the coastal waters surrounding the Port of Prince Rupert are under potential environmental pressure as a result of plans to build a number of large infrastructure. One example is that the design plan for the proposed LNG terminal could disrupt the processes in such a way that sand could be lost from the bank, which can affect the water bodies as well as surrounding living area for Lax Kw'alaams. Local leaders express serious concerns about the health of the environment, and the impacts of climate change on their food sources and resource base, because forest-based communities may be especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, not solely due to the anticipated climatic impacts to forest ecosystems but also due to the particular social context in which these communities are situated. Therefore, how to balance the economic development and environment protection is becoming a big issue for Lax Kw'alaams.
On the other hand, the leaders also hold a distinct perspective of change; one that includes a different frame of reference that overlays the impacts of settler society on an environment that they have witnessed in flux over thousands of years. Becoming threatened by large-scale market forces and administrative structures, First Nations have already been forced to adapt to devastating changes, of both human and natural origins. The retention of their culture provides them with both a means to defend their immediate interests in the arenas of resource management, while also furnishing them with the confidence that they can endure further changes to their environment. Lax Kw’alaams does not occupy this space conditionally, or as an extension of a broader society that they rely upon for leadership in altering the course of their social development to mitigate the effects of climate change. [clarify the meaning of this final sentence. I do not know what you are trying to say]
Lax Kw'alaams Council Members
As we mentioned before, the council members are managers and decision makers for Lax Kw’alaams, they have high power in the very local context. Under the decision of the council, when New Skeena Forest Products went bankrupt in 2004, the Lax Kw’alaams arranged a financing package with the Royal Bank of Canada to buy the assets, including Tree Farm License No. 1, for $4.8 million. To hold the licenses the council had bought, the council members created Coast Tsimshian Resources and hired management companies to manage the logging for them and report to Coast Tsimshian.. Additionally, millions of dollars are going into education, health care, home renovations and other community development projects. The Council also reopened and upgraded a long-shuttered cannery built in the 1970s——Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant Ltd. now exports frozen fish, often hauled in by Alaskan fishing boats, to Asia and Europe. It employs more than 200 band members in the peak season and has an annual payroll of $1.5 million.
Lax Kw'alaams First Nation members
They are Indigenous people of Lax Kw'alaams. Indigenous peoples, also known as first peoples, aboriginal peoples or native peoples, are ethnic groups who are the original settlers of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. It's obvious that they're the owner of the land, but their opinions and actions are presented by the Band Council, so they have low power. It is worth mentioning that the members' interests always come first by the Band Council.
Coast Tsimshian Resource LP
Coast Tsimshian Resources LP holds two forest tenures——Tree Farm License No. 1 and the neighbouring Terrace Forest License in Northwestern British Columbia, with a combined Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) of over 550,000m³. Based in Terrace, B.C., Coast Tsimshian Resources LP’s woodlands are located within close proximity to the Ports of Prince Rupert, Kitimat, and Stewart, the woodlands are managed by A&A Trading Ltd. Although Coast Tsimshian Resource is wholly owned by Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, the Chief and three Councillors sit on its Board. the Board of Coast Tsimshian operates independently of Band council to protect the Band from any risk associated with Coast Tsimshian’s forestry operations. The board Chair reports regularly to Band Council. Therefore, Coast Tsimshian Resource LP has high power.
Under the management of Coast Tsimshian’s private sector partner, A&A Trading Ltd., the Lax Kw’alaams’ forest business has thrived. In 2008, Coast Tsimshian Resources was a $100-million business, which employs 225 Band members. Its business is focused largely on selling raw logs to foreign and domestic users, particularly China.
As mentioned before, this study was designed to explore the solutions of finding the balance between economic development and environmental protection as the Lax Kw'alaams adapts to new economy. Three characteristics can be used to describe new economy: justice, sustainability and democracy. In other words, a new economy supports regeneration of both human and natural systems, incorporates democratic principles into the management of economic and civic life as well as works for all people. Under the trend of new economy, Lax Kw'alaams First Nation is supposed to rebuild their economies and in turn, reshape their community identities. Here are our recommendations for adapting to the new economy when considering the balance between economy and environment.
Lax Kw'alaams experienced economic changes twice over the past 40 years. The indigenous population in Canada hit the nadir in the early 20th, and then rebounded rapidly. Large numbers of aboriginal people continue to follow harvesting lifestyle, with a strong reliance on hunting, fishing, and gathering. The second change is that the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation paid $4.8 million for Tree Farm Licence No. 1 when the Prince Rupert, BC, region was experiencing a major downturn in the forestry industry in 2005. As they are facing the new challenge of new economy, economic renewal requires a whole community approach, largely dependent on moving from a space-based to a place-based economy in both policy and actions, which includes creation of an “economy of place” among northern communities, and the respective capacities and unique assets of northwest communities in terms of their value to both attracting industry and supporting quality of life.
Reshape Community Identities
As a resource-dependent community, Lax Kw'alaams had an opportunity to reconsider and re-establish their relationships with the environment and to articulate a new identity rooted in the environmental bases of their community culture. Following the decline of the forestry monolith that drove the northwest economy and held sway over the landscape, northwest communities are using their resource base (including both extractive and non-extractive industries) and the position given to these activities in visions of these communities’ futures, which is an inspiration to Lax Kw'alaams First Nation.
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