The Grand Council of the Crees

Submission to Subcommittee

The following is an exert is from a submission made to The Subcommittee on Boreal Forest of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. It was given by Jacques Carrette on behalf of the Canadian Forest Service.

Posted: 1997-03-13

Ottawa

The Subcommittee on Boreal Forest of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 9:00 a.m. to be its study on the present state and future of forestry in Canada as it relates to the boreal forest.

Senator Taylor: You mentioned management of the forest but you do seem to be leaving out the aboriginal or First Nations people. We hear pious words about it whenever a presentation is made, but when it comes to concrete facts as to how they are knit in to the development of concessions and forest, it does not seem to be anything except maybe a little advice as to where the deer or the moose are. There are no actual joint management efforts being made by either the federal or provincial governments to manage that which is essentially their home.

They are told, well, do not worry, the birth rate is not too high, and if you are nice you might get a job with a chain-saw. But their input does not seem to be of any major significance, particularly when we are looking now at self-government. Self-government brings with it a certain amount of necessity to generate your own capital, because it does not do you any good to govern yourself if you have to depend on somebody else for the money to operate. Therefore, there has to be some sort of a system of knitting- in the First Nations in the actual development and rewards not only of forestry, but they want to set aside certain parts for bio-diversity as we are talking. I do not see what the federal government is doing, outside of pious words, and this goes for the last number of governments, when it comes to First Nations people in joint management. I do not mean consulting, I mean joint management. Is there anything you can say to answer those criticisms?

Mr., Jacques Carette, Director General, Policy, Planning and International Affairs, Natural Resources Canada: I think I mentioned earlier the study that we had on traditional-related forestry knowledge that we did with the National Aboriginal Association. One of the six-case studies there is essentially what is happening at the Alberta Pacific Mill and how the aboriginals have developed working relationships with the with ALPAC Management, and how they integrate the values of each together. We will provide you with that report and I think you will have good information there,

'The second aspect you are talking about, the basic fact is that forest management is a responsibility of the provinces. I think that is part of the constitution. The federal government has responsibility on reserves.

Senator Taylor: Federal government has treaties and agreements made with the First Nations people that predate the provinces, and that the Supreme Court in the field of hunting, for instance, maintains that it extends far beyond the reserves that natives live on. So it must extend. If the hunting rights were necessary and considered over a broad area outside of the reserve necessary for the sustenance in the lifestyle of First Nations, surely the forests and the trees would be in the same category.

You mention ALPAC. Nice as it is, it is still a very paternalistic attitude to having a little better quarters for the slaves rather than allowing them to be joint managers of the plantation. They do not really get into saying you cannot go here or cannot go there or this and that. And I am just wondering. The federal government I think has abrogated or deserted or ignored or neglected a field that they should be in, because self-government for First Nations means nothing if they do not have joint management of the resources,

Senator Spivak: If I may just jump in on this, there are federal government responsibilities in terms of disputed land claims. There are also provincial government fiduciary responsibilities, which none of them have lived up to which have to do with the 1932 delegation. I do not have it in front of me, so I cannot be more precise than that.

The question to be asked is, here you are. You are the director general of the Canadian Forest Service. What is your understanding of the federal, what in the mandate, what is the legislation that you operate on in terms -- I mean, we have seen as Senator Taylor pointed out a lovely PR job of how the natives are. We want to sort of involve them. But most of it is in truth their land, which we have given away to third parties and then we say to the natives, you deal with them. Right. Now, what is your understanding of the legislation that you are supposed to deal with in terms of forestry as it relates to the aboriginal people? What is your answer to that?

Mr. Carette: From a Canadian Forest Service natural resource point of view, our mandate is with science and technology, information generation, and trying to work with various partners to develop a consensus towards sustainable forest management of the forest. Our mandate is not dealing with aboriginal rights, or whatever.

Senator Taylor: That is what you feel. It is not your mandate to coordinate in First Nations with management of forestry. You repeat that, you say that?

Senator Spivak: Is that your understanding?

Senator Taylor: Do not get me wrong. We are just trying to pin the tail on somebody around here.

Mr. Carette: Our understanding of our mandate -- I think it is best expressed with the Indian forest program that we have developed jointly with the Ministry of Indian Affairs -- is we have a science-based group, whose job it is to provide that information to all the citizens of Canada including aboriginal, and we have developed jointly a program with them to do that.

As far as all the issues of rights, obligations, provinces, non-province and all that the persons responsible directly for that is the Ministry of Indian affairs. I think you should ask them those questions, not the CFS.

Senator Spivak: Basically you have given us the answer. The answer, if I can state it clearly, is that the Canadian Forestry Service does not see it as their responsibility nor are you given that responsibility to look at what forestry companies ma be doing that may contravene what might be the federal role, or the federal mandate vis-a-vis aboriginal rights. Would you say that is an accurate statement?

Mr. Carette: It is a very long statement for a simple situation, I mean, from a CFS perspective.

Senator Spivak: That is what we want to know. You have answered that.