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Upgrades planned for Indigenous-owned Saskatchewan sawmill

Meadow Lake Tribal Council Chief Richard Ben said the federal government’s investment in NorSask is a statement of support for forest-based economies.
Meadow Lake Tribal Council Chief Richard Ben said the federal government’s investment in NorSask is a statement of support for forest-based economies. Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

The federal government says investing in a northern Saskatchewan sawmill will help modernize the Indigenous-owned facility.

Natural Resource Minister Amarjeet Sohi said it will also create jobs and support clean energy.

READ MORE: Meadow Lake Tribal Council clean energy project to power thousands of homes

“Investing in Indigenous-led businesses in Canada’s forest sector supports economic growth and job creation in Indigenous communities while promoting clean energy solutions for future generations,” Sohi said Wednesday in Saskatoon in announcing a $3 million investment in NorSask Forest Products.

“We are proud to support the NorSask facility as it invests in new innovative technologies that will sustain hundreds of jobs in northwest Saskatchewan.”

Richard Ben, chief of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) which owns NorSask, said the investment is a statement of support from the federal government for forest-based economies.

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“Specifically, the financial support provided by NRCAN undergirds 30 years of MLTC ownership, investment, employment opportunity and growth in the forest product manufacturing sector in northwest Saskatchewan,” Ben said.

“Through this kind of affirmative action, the federal government demonstrates its commitment to ensuring ongoing and sustained participation of Indigenous communities in forestry-based economic opportunities.”

READ MORE: Okanagan region feeling lumber slowdown

MLTC will use the investment to enhance efficiency and reduce energy consumption through upgrades and innovative technologies.

NorSask is the largest wholly First Nations-owned sawmill in Canada.

MLTC acquired 100 per cent ownership of the mill in 1988 after acquiring a minority stake in the mill in 1987.

Approximately 120-million board feet of lumber is produced at the mill annually, according to MLTC.

WATCH (June 2019): Okanagan lumber industry hurting like the rest of province

Click to play video 'Okanagan lumber industry hurting like the rest of province' Okanagan lumber industry hurting like the rest of province
Okanagan lumber industry hurting like the rest of province