3M, Mars, Nestlé and Earthworm Foundation are partnering with the Tsay Keh Dene First Nation in British Columbia, Canada to help respect their rights to decide how their territory is managed. This includes protecting key areas in their territory from unwanted harvesting for pulp and paper or other industrial activities.

First Nations and the Forestry Sector in B.C.

In 2019, Canada exported $33.2 billion worth of forest products, like lumber and wood pulp. It is the fourth-largest exporter worldwide. Nearly half of its wood comes from the province of British Columbia (B.C.), with the forestry sector employing over 55,000 people. This wood is used for construction, energy biomass, and a wide range of pulp and paper products like packaging. Directly or indirectly, it also ends up in the supply chains of Earthworm members like 3M, Mars and Nestlé – that have responsible sourcing policies committing them to protect High Conservation Values (HCV) and Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC).

The B.C. province is also home to over 232,000 Indigenous people. It is here that the Tsay Keh Dene reside. In the northern interior of the province, their territory spans 3.2 million hectares across the watersheds of the Ingenika, Ospika, Swannel and Finlay Rivers, to name a few.

“The Tsay Keh Dene are culturally ‘Sekani,’ often translated as ‘people of the rocks’ or ‘people of the mountains,’” said Chief Johnny Pierre. “The Sekani were the original inhabitants of the Rocky Mountain Trench in British Columbia.”

Traditionally, the Tsay Keh Dene people moved based on seasons and available resources. They continue to do so today – moving from cabins to camp sites across their territory, which contains intact forest landscapes, endangered woodland caribou and other important flora and fauna.

“Our way of life is intimately connected to the land, water and resources in Tsay Keh Dene territory,” Chief Pierre said.

“For the Tsay Keh Dene people, these forests and all life inhabiting them are not simply commodities, but sources of sustenance, culture, history and extended family. The TKD Nation is working to sustainably manage their territory for generations to come,” said Robin Barr, who leads Earthworm’s work on community and indigenous rights.

“This is the driving force behind the collaboration between the nation, Earthworm Foundation and its private sector members,” she said.

Read the full article about the Tsay Keh Dene’s efforts by Earthworm Foundation at Global Washington.