Forest370/Projects/Integration of First Nations values into the colonial system of forestry: within the Tl'azt'en community

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This Wiki page will be focusing on the Tl'azt'en Nation and their experience of working within the forest industry within colonial Canada. The Tl'azt'en Nation is a First Nations group that is located within Canada, in the province of British Columbia (BC).[1] The Tl'azt'en people or Tl'azt'enne have a rich history in BC since their lands are traditionally and ancestrally theirs, they also have evidence to support that they have been living in their current area for around 4000 years.[1]

Previous interactions with the BC government

Assimilation: Colonization weapon of choice for riding Indigenous of their culture

Context of Land

First and for most it is important to recognize that the Tl'azt'en Nation has been displaced and moved onto a reserve and their lands are now recognized as unceded, be it that they are not on treaty territory.[2][3] Unceded territory is recognized as lands that have been taken without being surrender or sale.[4] Due to colonization many of the First Nations groups in BC have never given up their land, meaning that Crown land outside of treaty areas Canadian is considered to many First Nations people as stolen.

Previous Contracts With the Government

Prior to the Tl'azt'en Nation buying a tree farm license (TFL) from the BC government, they had been given a sawmill in recompense for the BC government putting a rail way through their territory[5] There was just one problem, the sawmill was ill equipped and had outdated material that was not able to effectively and properly process timber products.[5] These types of situations are not uncommon within this colonial society, many Indigenous groups in North America have been given the short end of the stick: The Trail of tears[6], The Oka Crisis[7]. The Tl'azt'en people were excited to use the equipment; however, they later realized that the cost to improve set equipment was too expensive and they could not afford the needed upgrading which would allow proper manufacturing of timber products.[5]

Forestry within the Tl’azt’en Nation


When it comes to tenure for Tl'azt'en Nation they have customary rights that are upheld by the federal government. prior to colonization First Nations people had large areas of land that they took care of and lived on; however, as colonization began to occur over the Americas, Indigenous peoples were moved onto reservation where they are now under the jurisdiction of the federal government [8]

As mentioned before the Tl'azt'en Nation bid and won a TFL which is a license in which give the Tl'azt'en Nation the legal right to harvest timber within a designated area: 54,000 hectors on Crown land.[1][3] acquiring the TFL was important because the community was looking for ways to increase jobs, so being able to set community members up with forest related jobs would work to bring income back into the community.

Affected Stakeholder

  1. Tl'azt'enne people
    • The Tl'azt'enne people are affected stakeholders because, they have been connected and living on the land for upwards of 4000 years.[1] The Tl'azt'en Nation is directly effected by anything that happens to their land and need it for things such as hunting, fishing, and gathering.
  2. Tl'azt'en forest workers
    • Tl'azt'en forest workers are affected stakeholders because their lively hood is affected by the land they live on. If they are unable to work with the Tl'azt'en Nation they do not have an employer that can send them to another job site.

Interested Stakeholders

  1. The Government
    • The government is an interested stakeholder because they have no connection to what is now Canada. If the Tl'azt'en Nation is not able to harvest timber from the Crown land, then the BC government can sell the TFL to another buyer who will in turn harvest and sell set wood.
  2. construction workers
    • The construction works that build the roads and bridges are interested stakeholders because they can go find jobs building roads, and bridges elsewhere. if they are unable to work with the Tl'azt'en Nation they will just go work for someone who can afford to pay them.
  3. non Tl'azt'enne mill and forest workers
    • The non Tl'azt'enne mill and forest works are interested stake holders because they have no direct connection and can go find a job elsewhere. also, they are not living on the reservation and therefore they are not directly affected by the changes to the environment.

Affect and reactions of the Tl'azt'en community

When it came to the community there were mixed reactions to what would happen to the environment: due to the culture of the Tl'azt'en Nation the community sought to use their TFL in sustainable ways so that they would not harm the ecosystem that was around them.[1] These sustainable ways were easier said than done, the forest committee found it impossible to please all community members, with complaints regarding the destruction of trails, hunting areas, and gathering sites.[1] This created tension for the forest committee because their actions were negatively effecting the community member plus they were not seeing much financial gain with regards to timber harvesting.

The Nation found that their overhead costs were too expensive: Stumpage which is a tax implemented by the government when trees are harvested on crown land took up 60% of their total revenue.[1][3] When looking at the effects of colonization, barriers like a stumpage tax further perpetuate the divide between Colonial societies and Indigenous populations. This is because at one point the Crown land surrounding the Tl'azt'en Nation was once owned by the Tl'azt'enne people; however, with colonization those lands were taken and are now considered unceded. Now that the Tl'azt'en Nation is harvesting timber products from the government, they are having to pay tax on collecting trees from land that was stolen from them.

How they are managing

At first the forest committee was planning on hiring mostly workers from their nation; however, they found themselves short of expertise and needed to outsource in order to build roads, bridges, and other necessities for timber extractions.[1] The Tl'azt'en Nation was ill equipped to take on a business venture of such magnitude, leaving them in a situation where their community in disarray, because all their ideas were being dismantled right in front of them. The Tl'azt'en Nation was not given any guidance into the matter, and foremost was left to fend for themselves without any government intervention: surprising as they are considered wards of the state and are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government of Canada.[8] Instead of assisting the Tl'azt'en Nation the Canadian government stood by and let them fend for themselves. The Canadian governments neglect was further shown since, it was made aware that due to unlawful practices in which the rail way was placed on Tl'azt'en territory without permission, the BC government saw fit to give the Tl'azt'en Nation the TFL to write their wrongs, even though they most likely would not have gotten the offer.[1]

The Tl'azt'en Nation was also vulnerable to market fluctuations, as they did not have the market capital that big colonial corporations have.[1] Without money to pay for workers during harsh times, the TFL was unfeasible for the Tl'azt'en Nation as they would not have enough money to support their business, in addition the TFL required that a certain amount of trees were harvested or else they would have their TFL taken away from them.[1] The information provide further proves the fact that colonial industries are more equipped to succeed especially when there is no aid from outside sources such as the government.

Divide between First Nations Communities and the Colonial industry


Sage is an important plant as it is used with First Nations culture. It is valued by First Nations communities, so it would be very likely that First Nations communities would protect those areas in which it grows.

When it comes to values associated with land, Colonial industries and First Nations groups such as the Tl'azt'en Nation have different ideas of what is important.[1] As mentioned before First Nations groups have been live on what is now called Canada since time and memorial, while colonization has only occurred in the last couple centuries. When one has no connection to the land they are better able to dissociate themselves from it which makes colonial forest industries very profitable, because they can reach their timber harvesting quotas without much consideration for the effects on the land, as long as they follow the rules set in place by the government. In comparison Indigenous communities must follow the government rules, but they must also adhere to their own rules, which makes things more tricky, as shown by the effects on trapping, hunting, fishing, and gathering.[1]

For years the Canadian government has worked to assimilate the Indigenous peoples of Canada as shown by the Indian Act.[8] As the Tl'azt'en Nation began to extract wood from the land they started to notice a change in their own people with regards to the land: Tl'azt'enne people began to see the land as something to take from and use for financial gain.[1] As the Tl'azt'en Nation began to enter into a colonial enterprise, the values of the nation started to be transformed to reflect that of a western view, which is exactly the aim of colonization. These situations were not something that the Tl'azt'en Nation had intended upon, with history and culture being changed right before their eyes.

What are the problems associated with different values?

Having different values when it comes to resource harvesting can create a couple of problems, firstly, it can create tension between communities and industries since they are not able to agree upon a common theme. As mentioned within the article there is no loyalty towards the land so industries have no direct connection to the land and therefore are not affected stakeholders.[1] Without this connection to the land there is no reason to protect the land, which can lead to shortcuts that only disrupt local ecosystems. It is not possible for the Tl'azt'en Nation for leave 4000 years of history like an colonial business can, they are faced with the reciprocation with any action taken on their land.

Other First Nations communities and Forest licenses

Problems facing Indigenous groups

One problem with First Nations groups and forestry is only 4% of timber licenses are owned by First Nations communities, most of which are small.[9] This shows how little impact First Nations communities have when it comes to the forest industry in Canada. Also there are not a lot of First Nations experts in the field of forestry.[9] Having such a small amount of Indigenous representation makes it so Indigenous values are not prominent in the forest industry. Such small representation further creates a divide between Indigenous values and the values of the colonial forest industry. It would be beneficial to have more Indigenous experts when it comes to land, which would benefit both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. With more Indigenous experts forestry can be conducted in a way that protects the environment, while also uplifting Indigenous communities.

Similar problems

like the Tl'azt'en Nation many First Nations groups in Canada experience difficulties when it comes to interacting with colonial forest industries.[9] Sustainability regarding the environment is something that is very important to many Indigenous nations, these values make it so First Nations groups by pass the colonial way of forestry and incorporating their own values into timber harvesting.[1][9] Values regarding nature are something that many Indigenous groups view as important, so it is important that this is taken into consideration when colonial industries are working with Indigenous groups. With understanding and cooperation these problems could be ameliorated, thereby creating healthy relationships between industry and Indigeneity.

Review and Conclusion

First Nations communities, specifically the Tl'azt'en Nation, are affected by the forestry industry within Canada, whether that be through different values, unequal treatment, or lack of knowledge. First Nations communities do not seek to conduct business regarding forest harvesting the same ways in which colonial business do.[9] These differences can cause stress between community members, since forest committees may feel the need to sacrifice certain values in order to profit from a forest industry. Nevertheless, First Nations communities are still working towards building up their communities, even if that means finding new ways to harvest timber while keeping the ecosystems intact. It is also important to understand that there is not just one way of doing things, so incorporating different ideas could lead to new innovations that protect ecosystems while creating a profit. First Nations groups have been on what is now Canada since time in memorial and understand how the land works, and also have a spiritual connection as well, so if the forest industry is working towards protecting this land it is important that they consult those who have lived here the longest.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Booth, A. L., & Skelton, N. W. (2010). ""Theres a Conflict Right There": Integrating Indigenous Community Values into Commercial Forestry in the Tl'azt'en First Nation". Society & Natural Resources. 24(4): 368–383.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Tl'azt'en Nation | British Columbia Canada. (n.d.). "Welcome to the Tl'azt'en Nation".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations. (2017). "Forestry".
  4. Indigenous Corporate Training INC (2018). "Why you should avoid using "Crown Lands" in First Nation consultation".
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Booth, A. L., & Skelton, N. W. (2010). ""Theres a Conflict Right There": Integrating Indigenous Community Values into Commercial Forestry in the Tl'azt'en First Nation". Society & Natural Resources. 24(4): 368–383.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. A&E Television Network (2009). "Trail of Tears". History.
  7. Marshall, Tabitha (2013). "Oka Crisis". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Government of Canada (2018). "Indian Act". Justice Laws Website.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Booth, A. L., & Muir, B. R. (2013). ""How far do you have to walk to find peace again?": A case study of First Nations operational values for a community forest in Northeast British Columbia, Canada". Natural Resources Forum. 37(3): 153–166.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)