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Saik'uz First Nation calls for immediate forest industry policy changes

Saik’uz First Nation demands changes to forest practices in its unceded, unsurrendered territory going forward.
Saik'uz First Nation Logo
Saik'uz First Nation calls for change in forest management in their territory.

Unless there is prior consent given by the Saik’uz First Nation, forest licensees and the Province of British Columbia will not be allowed to proceed with any forestry or other resource development in their territory.

That was the clear message from Saik’uz First Nation Chief Priscilla Mueller broadcast Friday at a news conference held at the House of Ancestors in Prince George.

“We are not opposed to sustainable forest and resource management in specific areas of our territory but the key word here is sustainable,” Mueller said. “No more government and industry making important long-term land-use and forest management decisions while ignoring our needs and input and without our consent. The land belongs to us.”

During the conference opening remarks were made by Chief Mueller before a 13-minute documentary called Old Growth, New Beginnings showed multiple clear-cut logging areas in Saik’uz territory that is south of Vanderhoof.

The area is filled with a monoculture of pine plantations that were also showcased during the documentary that illustrated the devastating effects forest practices of the past have had on the land and its people.

“Our members have to travel more than two hours into the forest before they can find our traditional medicines,” was stated by a Saik’uz First Nations member in the documentary.

“And there hasn’t been one moose seen on the land in years,” Jackie Thomas, Saik’uz First Nation council member who is known as Rebel, said. “I’m so happy we’re finally doing this.”

This declaration has been in the works for years, she added.

Part of the mission to help rejuvenate the Saik’uz territory is asking the province to take action to immediately protect areas of high forest biodiversity value as well as moose and ungulate winter ranges within the territory on an interim basis until Saik’uz, the province and other Carrier Sekani First Nations conclude a resource management planning process.

Saik’uz First Nation and the province must immediately partner in developing and implementing rehabilitation and restoration projects in the territory to address the unjustified infringements of their Aboriginal title and rights have have occurred as a result of industrial forestry activities that take place in Saik’uz territory without the First Nations’ consent and against their objections.

“Our message to government and industry is that starting today we get the final say about forest management, land-use and how things are done in Saik’uz territory. I strongly suggest that government and industry obtain our consent prior to attempting to proceed with any further resource development in our territory.”